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Beauty is the Beginning of Terror, compiled by Colonel David Harper and cadets from West Point Military Academy, with introduction by General Martin E. Dempsey

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To commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I, Thornwillow Press, in association with cadets and faculty from the United States Military Academy at West Point, is deeply honored to publish a letterpress, hand-bound, limited edition anthology of poems and excerpts by writers who experienced the war from all sides of the conflict: Beauty is the Beginning of Terror.


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What began as a classroom project at the United States Military Academy at West Point, in Colonel David Harper’s “The History of the Book”, has evolved into an extraordinary enterprise. The West Point cadets have assembled voices that are not often found in anthologies, from all perspectives of the conflict. They have given space to those who fought on the “other side,” to women at home and near the front, to Black American soldiers who dreamed they might return to a better nation than the one they had left, and more. With over thirty poems and excerpts by authors such as Erich Maria Remarque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Wilfred Owen, Edith Wharton and others, Beauty is the Beginning of Terror gives the reader viewpoints that are utterly poignant and difficult to fathom: soldiers at a variety of fronts, prisoners of war, words of protest, bitter and sweet memories of an unprecedented conflict that devastated lives, landscapes and nations. This talented class of cadets has brought history to the present by highlighting the work of powerful writers during an almost forgotten time period.

Retired General Martin E. Dempsey—who served as the nation’s highest-ranking military officer for more than forty-one years, and was President Barack Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—has said of Beauty is the Beginning of Terror, that it reveals “a profound truth about the nature of warfare, which is marked by the best and worst of human nature.”

Now Thornwillow has been given the privilege of publishing this unique anthology in a letterpress, hand-bound edition with an introduction by General Dempsey. This special publication will include never-before-published photographs, sketches, maps and letters from the United States Military Academy Library Unique Resources Collection.

“The young cadets who have assembled this anthology of World War I poetry are far more likely than their peers in other walks of life to experience the terrors of war, to explore the intersection of beauty and terror, of honor and cruelty, of patriotism and nationalism when politics and diplomacy fail,” said General Dempsey. “For them, but also for those who will send them into this cauldron, this is an important book.”


Additional Information
About The Author Retired General Martin E. Dempsey—who served as the nation’s highest-ranking military officer for more than forty-one years, and was President Barack Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Dimensions 6 1/4’’ x 9 1/2’’
Edition No
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