Early Responses to Leaving World War II Behind

“This is a book of wide synthesis and trenchant commentary. Keep it near to hand for those all-too-frequent moments when you hear someone using World War II to justify yet another horrific military adventure.” –Nicholson Baker, author of Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, The End of Civilization

“A mythic history surrounds ‘the Good War,’ but the truth is far more complicated than that told by Hollywood and in high school history books. Swanson demolishes the myths by amassing a huge number of facts, all carefully documented, and leaves us the true, if unpalatable but liberating, history of World War II.” –Kent D. Shifferd, Ph.D., author of From War To Peace: A Guide To The Next Hundred Years

“If you, like me, thought that WWII was the exceptional ‘good war,’ think again. In Leaving World War II Behind, David Swanson brilliantly cuts through the myths surrounding WWII, and in the process cuts through the fog of all wars. Reading this book, I started to dream. What if Swanson was a regular commentator on CNN, destroying the arguments of every Pentagon pundit, Raytheon lobbyist and warhawk politician? What if Swanson was hired by Hollywood to review all war films for their accuracy? What if he could oversee the history books taught in U.S. schools? We would have what the military-industrial complex most fears: a well-informed public. As we build the platform that Swanson and anti-war academics/activists deserve—and the world so needs—we can start by reading this superb book and encouraging everyone we know to read it.” –Medea Benjamin, author/cofounder CODEPINK for Peace

“In his latest book, David Swanson passionately debunks many of the common arguments used to justify the horrific violence of World War Two. By revealing the less-than-humanitarian decision-making leading up to the United States’ involvement with the fight against the Nazi government, he demonstrates the inherent tensions behind the myth of a ‘good war.’ No one hates war more than Swanson and no one alive has devoted themselves more fully to its abolition. This book is an expression of his deep moral commitment to peace.” –Scott J. Shapiro, Professor of Law and Philosophy at Yale Law School, Director of Yale’s Center for Law and Philosophy, coauthor of The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World

“The proximate goal of David Swanson’s new book is to challenge the moral arguments for World War II, the war that supposedly justifies war. Its ultimate goal is to make the case for ending war once and for all. This is a brave, passionate, brilliant book, which should be read by anyone who gives a damn about humanity’s future.” –John Horgan, science journalist and author, The End of War.

“David Swanson’s Leaving World War II Behind, could have been easily entitled leaving revisionist history behind because he shatters all the self-congratulatory distortions that justified U.S. participation in the ‘good war’ of WWII. In systematically dismantling the moral and political reasoning of U.S. policy-makers leading up to, during, and after the great war, Swanson reveals how little has changed with the arguments and technics elites use to mask their real intentions and win over ordinary working class people, who fight the elites’ wars, to an agenda that does not have anything to do with them. In a rational society, Swanson’s latest would be incorporated into the school curriculum from middle-school on. But this is not a rational or a moral society. And this is why the existence of a David Swanson is such a wonder.” –Ajamu Baraka, contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and writer for Counterpunch.

“Brick by brick, David Swanson demolishes the wall of mythological history behind which we cower in manufactured ignorance and fear. As the wall comes down, we step out into a world where all is possible and nobody’s children need ever again be sacrificed on the blood-drenched altar of war.” –Nicolas Davies, author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

“David Swanson achieves two worthy goals. One, he proves that nearly everything we are told about World War II is false. The United States played a role in creating Nazi ideology and American businesses like IBM and Ford literally helped build Hitler’s war machine. Two, the lies about WWII persist and have been used to justify every act of aggression committed by this country since that time. Leaving World War II Behind is a must read for everyone who works for peace and against the indoctrination that invariably leads to endless state violence and human suffering.” –Margaret Kimberley, author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents

“David Swanson argues persuasively against justifications for World War II as ‘the good war.’ What if there were alternatives? And who did WWII really help? Leaving World War II Behind amply refutes war marketers’ assurances that the U.S. only goes to war as a last resort because there are no alternatives. Swanson insists we must reckon with relentlessly racist beliefs and practices which actually fuel wars, trample human rights, and enable repressive elites to control resources. The book offers a momentous rallying cry to activists seeking equitable relations in a sustainable world. Use this book to generate a massive shift in public opinion, demanding we abolish war.”–Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence

“If war is ever to be abolished through rational argument, this is the book that will do it. Leaving behind World War II is essential to abolishing war and Leaving World War II Behind, the book, explains how. It is an inspiring and profound service in the ongoing effort to a safer and saner world.” –Mike Ferner, author of Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq

“When it comes to revealing the wretched corruption of war, David Swanson is in a league by himself. His uncompromising power of conviction is the sledgehammer needed to obliterate the myths and lies inherent in America’s murder machine. In fact, war is America’s favorite and most lucrative pastime and the one killing spree that remains sacrosanct in the hearts and minds of Americans, especially their historians, is World War II. Well, folks, don your helmets and slip on your Kevlar®, Swanson takes on the “good war” with the necessary grim, meat-hook of reality. The book is chock-full of incredible revelations, eye-opening historical facts that wipe out America’s house of cards. His argument why WWII did not have to happen is brilliant and bolsters the entire book. As I read Swanson’s new book, I was reminded of Rev. William Sloane Coffin when he posed the query, ‘If what we’re doing in Vietnam is right, what is there left to be called wrong?’ The power of Swanson’s book asks the same question of the so-called ‘good war.’ Leaving World War II Behind is worth every minute of your time. –Stephen Vittoria, documentary filmmaker and co-author with Mumia Abu-Jamal of Murder Incorporated: Empire, Genocide, and Manifest Destiny

“Though I have been an antiwar activist for many years, I admit I haven’t always been able to deftly handle the ‘What about Hitler?’ argument, in part because I had never been taught the truth. Like Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States, David Swanson’s book reveals the ugly truth about WWII, and in doing so repudiates all possible arguments supporting the characterization of WWII as ‘just’.” –Leah Bolger, President of the Board of World BEYOND War

“In a well-constructed and compassionate book, David Swanson delivers something that’s sorely missing in the age of alternate facts and social media flame wars: He respects and trusts his readers. Leaving World War II Behind connects the dots across an incredible range of topics. In doing so, Swanson meticulously provides us with the documented evidence we need to begin questioning embedded myths and thus accessing our better selves.” –Mickey Z., author of Saving Private Power: The Hidden History of “The Good War”

“As David Swanson points out in this important book, World War II was the most destructive event in human history. And he also shows us that it was not necessary and that it has led to profound brokenness in the 75 years since it ended. Given the enormity of the evils wrought by that worst of all wars, people in the United States are remarkably uninformed about its true history. Thankfully, Swanson gives us a wide-ranging and clearly presented antidote for our ignorance.”  –Ted Grimsrud, Senior Professor of Peace Theology at Eastern Mennonite University and author of The Good War That Wasn’t—And Why It Matters: World War II’s Moral Legacy

“David Swanson has written an excellent book that should occupy a designated spot in every household and library with a copy of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation directly abutting that treacly tome. Swanson deserves credit for shredding the most common fallback argument of those who call history’s most bloody conflict ‘the Good War,’ namely the false ex-post-facto claim that WWII was ‘justified’ because it was necessary to ‘save the Jews’ from Nazi extermination. In fact, virtually nothing was done to save the Jews until the very final months of the war, by which time Hitler had managed to murder 6 million Jews, hundreds of thousands of Romani people, and countless Communists and physically and mentally disabled people.  As Swanson documents, far from saving Jews, the U.S., Britain, and other nations, when they had a chance to rescue German and Austrian Jewry in 1938, rejected a call to open their borders to threatened populations. Of 32 nations meeting in Evian, France to discuss the humanitarian threat, only two — Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic — agreed to increase their Jewish immigration quotas.” –Dave Lindorff, independent journalist, winner of 2019 Izzy Award

“War is organized insanity played out with mass murder. Nobody knows this better than David Swanson.  In this book, revealing the hidden history of even our so-called ‘just war,’ Swanson will hopefully shock and awaken enough of us to reject war for all time.” –Thom Hartmann, author and radio host

“David Swanson provides an abundant amount of well-supported facts that deconstruct the myth about the necessity of World War II and the resulting misguided national and global priorities. Once you see how Swanson lays the false notions about WWII to rest, it becomes much easier to be against war, against all wars.” –Patrick Hiller, Executive Director of the War Prevention Initiative

“Leaving World War II Behind, is a fascinating scholarly account of killing, orchestrated by wealthy corporations and industrialists. Read it to know why America has been and is the world’s leading killer in the name of money.” — Helen Caldicott, Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility

“There is no more important time in world affairs to face the truth about ‘the good war’ and get beyond the myths that continue to obstruct sensible conflict resolution.  I am confident that my father, who fought in it, would agree.  Read Swanson’s book— and talk to your neighbours about it!” –William S. Geimer, author of Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars

“In Leaving World War II Behind, David Swanson brilliantly destroys the myth that even if war is generally a bad thing World War II was the good war. In a stunning, fact-laden exposition, Swanson demonstrates the systemic failures of the western governments together with their corporate enablers that generated the practices of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and concentration camps, empowering Hitler. Swanson shows incontrovertibly that it was an underlying drive to preserve capitalism and destroy communist encroachment that led to support for Hitler when he was eminently stoppable. Every serious citizen should read this book. There is well-documented information here you have probably never heard reported before, about the myths of war as well as solutions that will surely transform your view of the world.” –Alice Slater, UN NGO Representative of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Board Member of World BEYOND War, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, and Global Council of Abolition 2000.

“David Swanson puts little known facts about the origins of World War II into a compelling argument that there are alternatives to wars, if the war money-makers don’t influence the politicians who can pursue the alternatives. He documents that the World War II ‘good’ war wasn’t as ‘good’ as our history books tell us, detailing the U.S. targeting of civilians; firebombing cities in Germany and Japan; insisting on total, unconditional surrender that lengthened the war with Japan; refusing to take steps to save the victims of the Holocaust in the concentration camps; and developing and using nuclear weapons that did not shorten the war and continue to threaten human existence.”  –Ann Wright, co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

“David Swanson’s latest, revelatory book, Leaving World War II Behind, challenges a long list of pervasive myths enshrined in both U.S. history books and Hollywood movies. Like a present-day Morpheus, Swanson invites readers to choose the ‘red pill’ that strips away the false matrix of morality from ‘The Great War.’ Swanson’s 18 chapters (backed with more than 500 footnotes) expose scores of uncomfortable truths. Some examples: Hitler’s rise was abetted by some of America’s most powerful corporations and businesses. The U.S. ignored Japan’s repeated offers to surrender in order to demonstrate the power of its new nuclear weapons. Wars are no longer waged for territory, Swanson notes: ‘they’re waged for weapons sales, fossil fuels, lusts for power, and bragging rights.’” –Gar Smith, author of Nuclear Roulette and The War and Environment Reader

“David Swanson’s new book on World War II is both about the potency of myth and the dynamism of choice. The myth of the ‘Good War’ has been powerfully destructive, and Swanson devastatingly demonstrates how dangerous the consequences of this myth have been. But as the book unveils example after example of U.S. militarism and environmental destruction, we are reminded that at every step along the way, people have had the power of choice. Sometimes that choice may be blunted by group psychological processes, but it still exists, omnipresently in the background. Swanson’s book is an impassioned plea to choose nonviolence and pacifism as against war and aggression. Revulsion against fascism fueled U.S. national interests in promoting WWII as a progressive cause. If nothing else, Leaving World War II Behind shatters the illusions that buttress such a myth, as well as subsidiary narratives that promote other U.S. imperialist wars from the Philippines to Vietnam to Iraq. With the U.S. moving towards war with Russia or China or both, this is a book every activist and antiwar partisan will want on their bookshelf.” –Jeffrey Kaye, author and psychologist

“My only regret of David Swanson’s Leaving World War II Behind is that it was not available during the decades I taught  high school social studies. Every American student should be exposed to the myths of World War II. Swanson’s Leaving World War II Behind offers teachers and students the opportunity to unmask accepted textbook falsehoods of the most damaging war ever.” –Jack Gilroy, Maine-Endwell High School, Endwell NY (retired)

“David Swanson’s Leaving World War II Behind not only debunks many of the myths surrounding WWII as the ‘good’ war, it thoroughly eviscerates them. One doesn’t have to agree with every facet of Swanson’s interpretation or even his conclusions to realize that this book makes profound moral and historical arguments that need to be thought about, debated, and learned from if we are ever to end the vicious cycle of violence, bloodshed, suffering, and retribution that has marked our world since long before the Second World War and continues to pose an existential threat to humanity today.” –Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University and co-author (with Oliver Stone) of The Untold History of the United States (books and documentary film series)

“In this age of endless wars, David Swanson’s mission to put an end to war has taken on a new urgency. He calls his latest book a moral argument,  but he  backs it up with carefully documented historical evidence derived from others and then shapes the evidence into a new polemic: Was the epitome of a good war (WWII) really that great — and thus a reason why more ‘good wars’ are likely to be necessary?  How many Americans know that Hitler studied some of the evils perpetuated in the US — genocide of Indians, reservations (models for concentration camps) slavery, westward expansion, and racist laws to name a few–and incorporated them into his own diabolical vision of Aryan greatness? (‘Go East Young Man’ a German newspaper proclaimed). Or that powerful US corporations and their leaders collaborated with Nazis before, during and after the war to achieve a desired goal: the defeat of the Soviet Union? This, Swanson states confidently, is the ‘dirty little secret’ hiding in World War II:  ‘the top enemy of the West ….was the Russian communist menace.’ And isn’t it still so? Swanson forces us to come to grips with the myths and lies that abound in all wars, including the supposed good war in Afghanistan, and challenges us to join him in peace activism because ‘mass murder is horrible,’ a notion that led him to becoming a determined peace activist in the first place. Perhaps Covid-19, which has stripped away the veneer of America’s exceptional ‘greatness,’ in so many way, will also yield a Renaissance of new thinking about the imperative to end all wars and use the savings to create a new, more just world. To this end, David Swanson has shown us the way and done so brilliantly.” –Charlotte Dennett, author of The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, A Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil

“I like the logic here. Swanson  lays out the logic of pacifism in a couple hundred pages without mentioning the word. If you don’t have time to read the book, see if you can read Chapter 18,  “WWII and the case for war abolition.” If you can’t make the time for this prescient and timely selection, take an entire minute to contemplate these 64 words from the final chapter that succinctly identify the myths about war and the reasons to end it forever: ‘The myths are that war is, or can be, inevitable, necessary, beneficial, or just. The reasons to end war are that war is immoral; war endangers rather than protects; war destroys the natural environment; war erodes liberties; war impoverishes; war promotes bigotry; and the resources spent on war could do incredible good if spent elsewhere — far more good even than the good of preventing wars.’ That’s 4 myths about war and 7 reasons to end it. Don’t bogart this book, my friend. Pass it on.” –Pat Elder, signer of the Declaration of Peace https://worldbeyondwar.org/individual

“All wars are lies. David Swanson shows that World War II was no exception. We must not allow the power holders to continue to argue that WWII — the ‘good war’ — justifies the idea that fighting wars and preparing for ever more wars as the way to fight the ‘next Hitler’ can create security for our country and the world.  Without the idea of ‘the good war,’ the notion of war as a means of resolving conflicts and achieving ‘security’ goes out the window. Too bad for the war profiteers! Why did the United States pass up so many opportunities to stop U.S. companies investing in and helping arm Germany in preparation of WWII? Why did the U.S. and other countries refuse to accept Jewish refugees fleeing Germany? Why did the U.S. delay making peace with Japan before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though Japan indicated offers to surrender and end the war earlier? Was preparing for a future war with the Soviet Union the real reason for many U.S. actions during and after WWII? The U.S. did NOT pursue all peaceful means to resolve conflicts with either Germany or Japan before the war, but by their actions, chose to prepare for war and do those things which made war more likely. Through WWII, the U.S. became addicted to militarism, and wars, and preparations for more wars. But this addiction is our choice. We can choose to end our addiction to war and pursue peaceful means to achieve security — not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. Swanson holds out the vision of creating real security by spending one trillion dollars a year (which we are presently spending on wars) to create a good and decent life for every American and people all over the world – and create REAL SECURITY for the American people rather than the FAKE SECURITY of endless wars and creating ever more enemies. People all over the world should read Leaving World War II Behind, give up our addiction to war, and get involved with World BEYOND War to help end all wars. Very highly recommended if you want a future of peace and well being for your children, grandchildren, and future generations!” –David Hartsough, Co-Founder World BEYOND War and Nonviolent Peaceforce, author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist

“In Leaving World War II Behind, David Swanson continues his chronicle of the full costs of militarization.  His new work centers on a fundamental dimension of those costs, the many-sided environmental consequences of war and perpetual preparations for war.  For the public that hardly understands the links between military operations and environmental damage, this book is a major contribution.” –Richard Tucker, editor of Nature at War: American Environments and World War II

“Many of us World War II authors wrote the Who, What, When, Where and How. Seventy-five years after the largest event in world history changed the world, David Swanson presents the Who?, What?, When?, Where? and How? of World War II.” — James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers