My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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TEHRAN, Iran—A powerful and timely book, "The Face of War," by Martha Gellhorn, has recently been published by Simon and Schuster, and I would like to urge that this book be read carefully by the leaders in every nation of the world, certainly in the Soviet Union as well as in the U. S.

Martha Gellhorn, as an experienced journalist, writes extremely well—almost too well to make the reading of this book bearable. In fact, at times I had to put it down and close my eyes and try to think of other things. It is the account of her war experiences during eight years in 12 countries. She tells not only of the men at war but of the countless human beings—men, women and children, and especially children—who lived through these wars and bore the brunt of the horror which was man-made.

One of her statements I think none of us today should ever forget. "From the earliest wars of men to our last heart-breaking worldwide effort," she writes, "all we could do was kill ourselves. Now we are able to kill the future."

On the last page of this book, which so graphically describes the face of war, she writes: "If we will not learn, is there any hope for us? The answer is that we cannot help hoping; we do not control it. We are given a supply which only runs out in death, perhaps because each one of us knows love, the source of hope. . . But this is our final chance to learn. The second World War was an evil that men could stop; the unknown nuclear war will have no end. No peace treaty will stop the interminable, invisible poison dust. The war of the universe will be carried on by the wind. War is a crime against the living and always has been; no one can begin to imagine the size and the shape of the crime of nuclear war. . . Where will the survivors be, outside the limits of civilization, not worth immediately killing—and what can they hope for, what can they create again to the honor of mankind, knowing that the earth and the air and the water are incurably tainted, and that they have nothing to hand on to their children and their children's children except disease, a withering end to the last of the race? . . . To preserve freedom? What freedom? For whom?"

These are very pertinent questions. This book forces you to think them through. There was a time when you could believe that to be willing to die for your country and to fight for it might have ennobling effects upon the character of man. With nuclear weapons that day is past, for you preserve nothing for the future or for anyone but a slow and certain death.

Is there no wisdom among us today which will force us to use and to develop the machinery set up after World War II in the U. N. so that the peoples of the world—all of whom will suffer if nuclear warfare breaks out on the face of the earth—can use their collective genius to prevent the destruction of the future?



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Iran [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 16, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.