Dead on a High Hill

Essays on War, Literature and Living, 2002–2012

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About the Book

A new collection of Bill Ehrhart’s essays—25 of them, written between 2002 and 2012 on subjects ranging from the Vietnam War failures of American policy-makers to life in 21st century Vietnam; the trenches of the Western Front, the mountains of Korea, the sands of Iraq; from the value of one’s name to the cowardice of Congress; mountain gorillas in Rwanda, the journalist Gloria Emerson, teaching poetry to teenagers; on the famous (Wilfred Owen) and the obscure (Robert James Elliott)… These essays explore the fallacies of history, the madness of war, the craft of poetry, the profession of teaching, and the art of living.

About the Author(s)

Memoirist, poet and editor and former Marine W.D. Ehrhart teaches English and history at the Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania. The author of 20 books, his prose and poetry have appeared in hundreds of publications including the Los Angeles Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Utne Reader, Reader’s Digest, American Poetry Review and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Bibliographic Details

W.D. Ehrhart
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: 44 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7039-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9253-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      1

THE ESSAYS

The World Is Watching      8

Batter My Heart with the Liquor Store: or, Teaching Poetry to Teenagers      16

Hell’s Music: A Neglected Poem from a Neglected War      32

The Power to Declare      40

James Magner, Jr., William Meredith and Reg Saner: Reluctant Poets of the Korean War      42

What’s the Point of Poetry?      67

Kaleidoscope      70

Carrying the Ghost of Ray Catina      73

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: A Brief History of National Myopia      75

What the Fuss Is All About      80

“I Have to Go Now. Bye!” A Remembrance of Gloria Emerson      83

Concerning Memorial Day      87

“Knock Their Jocks Off, Boys!”      89

The Value of Your Name      93

Words for John Balaban      98

Good Wars, Bad Wars, Forgotten Wars and Poetry      106

“They Want Enough Rice”: Reflections on the Late American War in Vietnam      112

Samuel Exler: The Poet as Historian      125

One, Two, Many Vietnams?      131

The Origins of Passion      133

The Pity of War Poetry      137

“That Damned Bad”: Fragments from the Life of Robert James Elliott      139

Con Thien and Dancin’ Jack      143

Dead on a High Hill: Poetry from the Korean War      147

Ken and Bill’s Excellent Adventure      163

Military History of W. D. Ehrhart      187

About the Author      189

Index      191

Book Reviews & Awards

“this book contains many such small treasures, big ones too”—Veterans for Peace Newsletter; “As a poet and editor, Bill Ehrhart is clearly one of the major figures in Vietnam War literature”—John Newman, curator of the Vietnam War Literature Collection at Colorado State University; “one of the great poets and writers of nonfiction produced by the Vietnam War”—The Nation.