Thanks are due to Mark Kleiman, who asked ‘are there any works of art that are pro-war?’ Mark asked this question, and then answered in the negative, which is largely, but not completely true. He says:
The celebration of battle feats is, it seems to me, the “pro-war” feature that’s present in the Iliad and absent in, say, War and Peace. Tolstoy certainly glorifies Kutuzov and intends the reader to be pleased by Napoleon’s defeat. But Tolstoy doesn’t put you in the shoes of a Russian artilleryman and ask you to admire his coolness under fire or his brilliant improvisation after his horse gets shot.
So I think my reader’s point stands: the Homeric attitude toward warfare is impossible for the modern novelist to reproduce.
To counter, I’ll offer this from Mark Helprin’s Memoir from Antproof Case:
By the time I reached altitude, I could hardly see the Messeschmitts. They were nothing more than specks that appeared and disappeared. Had they gone back to their field, I would have missed them, but they continued their patrol, turning west. That would give me a broadside, out of the sun.
I took it. I hit one so hard he broke up in the air, and the other simply fled. At this point I was very low on fuel and ammunition and I back-rolled for home hoping that the remining Schmitt would not come back. He didn’t.
Just enough fuel was left to skim the beach before landing. We were not supposed to do that, but it was often too enticing not to. It was like shouting out that you were still alive, and your voice was not your voice but the voice of your swift and powerful plane, with an engine that shook the ground, with six cannons, and light wings that rocketed through the clouds. The planes returned as if from nowhere, propellers churning in golden light, avenging angels descending from unimaginable wars in the ether. After my first kill I understood that we were singing a terribly sad song. But I’m not ashamed of having sung that song, for, no matter what you may suspect, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.
His book Refiner’s Fire has similar, as I recall, but I don’t have it handy.
Thanks to Mark, I pulled it off the shelf and read it yesterday…what a great book. And no, I don’t drink coffee.