Antiwar Literature and Protest Songs


Statue Depicting WWI Soldiers


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Topics on the Page


A History of Anti-War Literature





Re-emergence of the Genre


Anti-War Novels by Women


History of Protest Music







History of Anti-War Literature


Link to an article on the History of Anti-War Literature



Anti-War Literature emerged after World War I as an expression of frustration of authors who served during The Great War. These included works by Hemingway, Vonnegut, and other prominent authors.


10 War Novels That Will Turn You Into a Pacifist



  Street Scene in Dresden, Germany (1945). 

Setting for Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse 5



Slaughterhouse 5


A Summary of Kurt Vonnegut's Novel: 


Biography of Vonnegut: 


CrashCourse Video on the novel: 


Teaching Guide for the Novel: 




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All Quiet on the Western Front


Link to Influential Literature page for All Quiet on the Western Front


Vietnam War


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Following World War II, The Vietnam War was a major point of political and social contention in the long 60's.  As a part of this, after the war many memoirs and novels emerged expressing the Antiwar sentiment. 


Article from the New York Times, "The Four Stages of the Anti-War Movement":


Opinion piece from the New York Times on a novel written by a refugee of the Vietnam War:


The Things They Carried



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The Things They Carried is a fictional work based in the author's experiences as a foot soldier in the Vietnam War.


Biography on Tim O'Brien: 


Overview of the novel from the National Endowment for the Arts: 


Animated summary of the novel: 


Link to a full audiobook narrated by Bryan Cranston: 



The Genre Reemerges


Post 9/11, an anti-war perspective emerged once again in modern literature. 


Article on the Rise in Anti-War novels in modern day


10 Vietnam War Novels to Read, Council on Foreign Relations blog


Barbara Kingslover, Author of the Poisonwood Bible


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Anti-War Novels by Women


While Anti-War novels post WWI were written mainly by men, there are many novels with Anti-War themes written by women. They chronicle international conflicts and present new perspectives to the genre.



50 Anti-War Novels by Women








History of Protest Music


Billie Holiday recorded the song Strange Fruit in 1939 to protest

violence and racism against African Americans



Brief Overview of Protest Songs, National Women's History Museum



The History of American Protest Music, from "Yankee Doodle" to Kendrick Lamar, Vox (May 22, 2017)



The Power of Protest Songs, American Indian Magazine, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian



Hear Billie Holiday sing Strange Fruit




16 Songs from the Past Century of Protest Music, People (February 10, 2017)



Protest Songs, A Musical Introduction, Smithsonian Folkways



Teaching with Protest Music, The New York Times Learning Network



Analyzing Protest Songs of the 1960s



World War I:  From Propaganda to Poetry, Common Sense Education



33 Revolutions Per MInute:  A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day.  Dorian Lynskey (Ecco, 2011).