When most of us think of Jack London, we think of the famous "Call of the Wild" or "White Fang." Many of us read them in school. Some readers who aren't hardcore London fans may have never heard of the short story "War."
I found "War" in an antique book of short stories, published in 1918. The title of the book is "Modern Short Stories." When I purchased the book, I realized a teenage boy named Clarence wrote on the side of the book and inside on the pages, which made it even more interesting. This is one of the reasons I love buying antique books.
Anyway, I had never heard of "War," so I decided to give it a try. "War" is only a few pages long, so it didn't take me long to read. It's written in 3rd person, and it takes place in a war field. The war is not named and the characters are not named. I didn't take issue with this. In fact, as a reader, I quite enjoy vague but powerful short stories.
The story opens with a young man in his 20s, nervously scouting his surroundings. We soon learn just how nervous he is to be part of all this, but understands his duty. Readers are described scenes of nature and the horrors of war in between.
I feel like there's only one important aspect to this short story, and it involves a man who is only described as the man with the ginger beard. As I stated, no one in this story has a name. There is a scene where the narrator spots the man with the ginger beard (an enemy) and contemplates shooting him, however, he thinks better of it. "But he did not shoot. Slowly, he lowered the carbine and watched." This scene becomes significant at the end of the story, which I won't spoil here in case you wish to read it.
I give "War" 5 out of 5 stars. Jack London always seems to hit the nail on the head, which leaves me wondering why he received so many rejection letters (some people suck!). Here he writes a story that's only a few pages long, but it's just as powerful as a novel. If you enjoy Jack London, or just classics in general, and you haven't read "War" yet, I highly recommend it.