Women on War

Women on War


Daniela Gioseffi
An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 03-01-2003

From Margaret Atwood to Daisy Zamora, Simone de Beauvoir to Virginia Woolf, many of the world's greatest women writers have reflected upon one of humanity's most tragic and powerful experiences: war. Yet most of these writings are little known, just as women's perceptions of war remain largely absent from the history books.

Women on War gathers together writings by more than 150 women, including renowned poets, novelists, essayists, journalists, and activists, as well as ordinary women with firsthand experience of armed conflict as survivors, refugees, rape victims, nurses, and soldiers. Spanning the globe and traversing more than two centuries, the pieces in this compelling collection range from an ancient verse by Sappho about a wife who awaits the return of her warrior husband to an essay by Arundhati Roy about the impact of September 11. In voices that are gripping, mournful, defiant, and often surprisingly hopeful, these writers join to produce a portrait of wartime experience and a plea for peace.

"As long as our species has made war, individuals have spoken out against it, and women are prominent among those who argue cogently and eloquently for peace. Now that weapons of mass destruction have made war a truly apocalyptic prospect, the call for nonviolent resolutions to world conflicts is all the more urgent, and the voices in this powerful and important collection (an extensively revised and updated version of an earlier volume) are all the more precious. Gioseffi, a prize-winning poet, activist, and educator, sets the scene for this invaluable anthology in a bracing introduction that traces the enormous shadow militarism casts across our planet and our lives, from the immediate tragedies of war to the environmental damage caused by military industries and the poverty exacerbated by huge military expenditures. The poems, essays, eyewitness accounts, and probing inquiries that follow are dramatic and knowledgeable, forthright and reasonable, full of compassion and accepting of responsibility, a diverse and inspiring gathering of writers of conscience including Jane Addams, Martha Gellhorn, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Arundhati Roy, Grace Paley, Claribel Alegria, Toni Morrison, Helen Caldicott, and dozens more who courageously question the necessity and protest the insanity of global violence." —Booklist

"The first edition of this anthology, published in 1988, was subtitled Essential Voices for the Nuclear Age and won an American Book Award. This second edition is certainly well timed. While it still addresses issues of the nuclear age and the further past it seems to speak directly to today's conflicts. Ranging widely in time and place, the over 150 women featured here (e.g., Anna Akhmatova, Marguerite Duras, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and Emily Dickinson) include professional writers in several areas as well as activists (such as members of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of Women) and 'ordinary' women. Well-known names such as Indian writer Arundhati Roy might jump out, but readers may be most affected by some of the first-person accounts which can, however, be difficult to read—both for their graphic descriptions and for their sheer heartrending poignancy. Editor Gioseffi's introduction nicely contextualizes the wide-range contributions." —Library Journal

"An eloquent response to global violence [which] sweeps with authority through time and across national boundaries. . . . This is one book one hopes will be translated into all of humankind's languages." —New York Times Book Review

"In Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present, Daniela Gioseffi, an award-winning poet and activist, has assembled a diverse collection of powerful poems, essays, eyewitness accounts, and inquiries that valiantly and penetratingly question the premise of war and argue for its elimination from the repertoire of human behavior." —Speakeasy Magazine

"In many ways the book is an antidote to the dark, supermacho world in which we are living. It pulses with defiance, hope, and celebration." —Tikkun