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Robert C Comeau <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Fri, 9 Jun 1995 14:46:06 -0400
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     Jim Zwick (ed.). _Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-
     Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War_.
     Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992.  (Syracuse Studies
     on Peace and Conflict Resolution.)  Pp. xlii, 213.  Includes
     index.  $34.95.  Cloth, 6-1/4" x 9-1/4".  ISBN 0-8156-0268-

     Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum by:

          Robert C. Comeau <[log in to unmask]>
          Drew University
          Madison, NJ

     Copyright (c) Mark Twain Forum, 1995.  This review may not
     be published or redistributed in any medium without

Albert Bigelow Paine expressed, while discussing "The Man
That Corrupted Hadleyburg," the idea that Mark Twain, at the
turn of the century, was no longer a mere storyteller or
humorist, but had become almost exclusively a moralist.  It
is exactly this moralist who speaks to us from the pages of
_Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire_, a Mark Twain who certainly had
not abandoned the incisive wit, irony and gift for turning a
phrase evident in most of his earlier writing, and a Mark Twain
who took very seriously his contention, expressed in
_The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts_, that the human race's
most effective weapon against shams and frauds of all sorts
was laughter and ridicule--in other words, the satirist's

Jim Zwick has provided the world with a neat, compact look at
Mark Twain's satiric writings relative to the Philippine-
American war of February 1899-July 1902 and beyond, all of which
date from 1900-1908.  There are some well-known pieces, some
already heavily anthologized, and there are a variety of more
incidental writings collected here for the first time, ranging
from newspaper articles and brief-mentions to little-known
speeches and items of private correspondence and notebook
jottings (see table of contents below), and a profusion of
interesting and amusing illustrations and editorial cartoons.  In
some instances, the familiar is neatly juxtaposed with the
obscure, as when the savage and justly famous "A Defence of
General Funston" is followed immediately by the unknown "General
Funston vs. Huck Finn," in which Twain, with a taste of rather
bitter humor, describes the banning of _Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn_ in Denver as a result of his attack on Funston in the
earlier essay (though it's a bit like blaming Sir Walter
Scott for the Civil War in _Life On the Mississippi_).

This book is a focused snapshot of one aspect of Twain's late
period, but it seems to me to be a good place for someone just
starting to investigate this phase, after reading "Hadleyburg"
and _The Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts_, to begin.  The
philosophies expressed fictionally in these two masterpieces are
here given more factual substance.  "The War Prayer" is here, and
so is "To The Person Sitting In Darkness."  Relevant excerpts
from "Three Thousand Years among the Microbes" and "The Secret
History of Eddypus" are also included, judiciously chosen by the
editor, but there is a high enough percentage of newly available
material here to interest even the most seasoned of Mark Twain
specialists.  "Dialogue on the Philippines," a socratic dialogue
styled after _What Is Man?_, expands upon some of the ideas in
the earlier effort, while applying Twain's philosophical theories
in a more practically directed fashion.  In "Introducing Winston
S. Churchill," Twain uses the occasion of his introduction of
Churchill at New York's Waldorf-Astoria on December 12, 1900 to
accuse the United States of following the United Kingdom's
policies in the Boer War, referring to England and America as
"kin in sin."

Jim Zwick's Introduction and headnotes are exemplary, giving
excellent historical and biographical context for the novice
reader and specialist alike.  Also, he has certainly done his
archive and library time here, seeming to have carefully combed
the Mark Twain Papers as well as other archives from far and
near.  Where possible he has used texts established by the
editors of the Mark Twain Papers. In the absence of a Mark Twain
Project edition, he has used the most recent and most accurate
texts available, making good use of the previous editorial work
of Frederick Anderson and Bernard DeVoto, among others.  This was
clearly a labor of love for Jim Zwick, and this is shown
throughout by his meticulous attention to detail and his desire
to present this facet of Mark Twain's career to the world in the
best possible manner, giving it the seriousness of intention it
deserves.  It is a book which succeeds because of its intentions
and the quality of the work which went into it.  It is useful
because of its ability to allow us to watch a great, courageous
and highly moral mind track a subject which it found particularly

My fear is that this valuable book will not gain the readership
it deserves.  College and university libraries should certainly
acquire it, but so should high school and public libraries.  The
ideas lampooned by Twain have not gone away, and will not until
more informed readers are able to articulate their objections to
certain policies.  In speaking for himself, Mark Twain spoke for
everyone, and articulated his anger and disillusionment for all.

The Mark Twain whom we meet in this remarkable collection is no
stranger to most of us.  He is irascible, angry and standing on
higher moral ground than practically anybody he knows.  He has
read the news and is outraged at the actions of his government in
perpetuating a foreign military entanglement which he believes is
none of our business, and which, even worse, he interprets as a
colossal land-grab, an attempt at subjugating and enslaving an
entire people half a world away.  He has accepted his country's
highest moral principals and is filled with loathing for its
leaders who seem to have forgotten them.  He is, in short, the
spokesperson for all of us who have some ideal vision of America
which we perceive as being compromised almost daily in more
sordid pursuits.  He speaks for you and he speaks for me, and
while his subject matter may be America's involvement in the
Philippines in the early twentieth century, we can change the
names and the locations and find things remarkably unchanged
since then.  Good satire is timeless because human folly and
depravity are timeless.  I think Mark Twain knew that.

 Appendix to the book review
Contents of _Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire_

     Introduction (by Jim Zwick)

          Anti-Imperialist Homecoming
          Welcome Home: Lotos Club Dinner Speech
          Introducing Winston S. Churchill
          A Salutation to the Twentieth Century
          The American Flag
          Why I Protest: Four Letters
          To the Person Sitting In Darkness
          Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date)
          The Stupendous Procession
          The Philippine Incident
          Recruits for a Liberty-crucifying Crusade; Letter to
               William James Lampton
          Training That Pays
          Civilizations Proceed From the Heart: Letter to Albert
          Patriots and Traitors: Lotos Club Dinner Speech
          History 1,000 Years from Now: A Translation
          The Fall of the Great Republic
          The Secret History of Eddypus, the World Empire
          Review of Edwin Wildman's Biography of Aguinaldo
          General Funston Is Satire Incarnated
          Notes on Patriotism
          As Regards Patriotism
          A Defence of General Funston
          General Funston vs. Huck Finn: Letter to the _Denver
          Dialogue On the Philippines
          The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger
          Major General Wood, M.D.
          The War Prayer
          Patriotic America
          Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes
          Comments on the Moro Massacre
          Roosevelt, the American Gentleman
          The Anglo-Saxon Race
          The Stupendous Joke of the Century
          True Patriotism and the Children's Theater
          Monarchical and Republican Patriotism

     Select Bibliography
     Sources of Texts