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Hedin, Robert, ed. Old Glory; American war poems from the Revolutionary War to the war on terror.

HEDIN, Robert, ed. Old Glory; American war poems from the Revolutionary War to the war on terror. Persea Books. 366p. index. c2004. 0-89255-310-3. $20.00. SA *

At a time when the US is at war in Afghanistan and in Iraq as well as fighting a global war on terrorism, it is hard to imagine a more appropriate and compelling anthology of poetry than that edited by noted author Robert Hedin. There are many ways to read about war: histories, biographies, letters, journals and the like. However, in the foreword to this book, Walter Cronkite reminds us "the gift of telling what war is really like has been bestowed upon the poets." Hedin presents 175 poems written by 140 different authors, half of whom have direct experience of war as combatants. The selections are arranged chronologically, with a section on each American war beginning with the Revolutionary War and "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and ending with the War on Terror and "Transcircularities" by Quincy Troupe.

Hedin's introduction is an insightful overview of the collection, noting the characteristics of the poetry that emerges from each war, from the patriotism of colonial America to the disillusionment of those writing about WWI. He observes that the "wide range of themes and attitudes" that emerge here "go beyond the American experience to explore the nature of war itself." Walt Whitman's poetry is recognized as offering "some of the most poignant portrayals of suffering in American literature." The poetry of the Gulf War and the War on Terror are found to have produced "no verse of any real value" by battlefield participants to date. Each poem in the collection is preceded by a brief biographical sketch that is quite helpful in appreciating the context of the poem that follows. Some of the poems are often anthologized; some are printed here for the first time. Hedin best describes his own anthology as "haunting and memorable." Teachers and students of history and literature should find in this collection many works for reflection and discussion. Anthony Pucci, English Dept. Chair., Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY
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Author:Pucci, Anthony
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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