Written by one of America's most innovative and articulate feminists, this book illustrates how childhood experience, gender and sexuality, private aspirations, and public personae all assume undeniable roles in the causes and effects of war.
War, Griffin contends, is an evil rooted in lies, and arises from personal lies and family secrets as well as polarized gender roles that warp the private self. That message dominates this lengthy lyric meditation, a fragmentary collage in which the feminist Griffin ( Woman and Nature ) jumps disjointedly from the fire-bombing of Dresden to her discovery that her grandfather was an alcoholic. Mixing history, myth and memoir, this kaleidoscopic work contains passages of striking power along with dazzling character sketches: Kaiser Wilhelm II riding a white horse through the streets of Tangier; Gandhi heeding his inner voices; Nazi Heinrich Himmler, as a boy, repeating classmates' confidences to his schoolmaster father; Werner von Braun designing rockets in Alabama; General MacArthur trying to impress his mother with his heroism. Ultimately, though, one feels that Griffin's comment about Hemingway's experience of war--``the fragments never came together''--applies to this book as well. Author tour. (Oct.)