Why We Fight: A Full Haus Review

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Editor’s Note: Our very own gem Nathaniel Scott authored this review of Antelope Hill’s new writing competition anthology, Why We Fight. Although my wife already busts my chops for the shameful number of unread books piled up around here, he inspired me to splurge for another one, but I’ll actually put this one at the top of the reading heap.

Why We Fight

Most people read book reviews to receive an answer to the question, “Should I buy this book?” To save you some time, I’ll be upfront and answer with an emphatic and resounding yes. 

I have been blown away by the talent and creativity found in our movement, and this collection reaffirmed my perception. I’ve been interested in poetry for years, and astute listeners will remember the first Navigating the Collapse featured a poem by Kipling. The poetry section of Why We Fight was thus especially enjoyable, and I found myself getting choked up each time I read it. The prose and essay sections were also emotional and inspiring in a way that cuts to the core of the soul. 

I can honestly foresee a textbook several hundred years in the future showcasing parts of this book under titles like “Early 21st Century Poetry,” “Pre-Reconquest Era Literature,” or “A Glimpse into the Mind of our Ancestors.” There are works that contain messages that will only be understood by those immersed in our culture, and one day will require a paragraph long footnote explaining the context in detail. There are others that can be instantly understood by anyone, and just as easily understood three hundred years ago, or three hundred years from now.

Each work has its own special brilliance, and I won’t spoil them for you, but I’d like to commend a few of my favorites other than the winners and honorable mentions. The latter are titans, spine-chilling, and reminiscent of authors like Tolkien and Kipling, but I know that readers may read them first, so I want to highlight the other works as a reminder that none should be skipped.

The Day by Edward Altura is a beautiful and simple poem that I will undoubtedly read to my future children before bedtime. It shows the way will be difficult, the struggle generational, and the night long, but there is still comfort in knowing that the day will dawn once again. 

The Thoroughbred by John David references Spengler’s famous quote while describing the Roman soldier who stayed at his post in Pompeii because he was never relieved of duty. How could that soldier have known that thousands of years after his death men would look to his last moments as an inspiration to hold our ground? In the same way, while our struggle may seem difficult, impossible, or even meaningless, it will have ramifications that we may never know.  Sometimes all we can do is grit our teeth, grasp our spears, and stand.

For the Forest Brothers by Laima Sedula brings to life the relationships of the Forest Brothers during the aftermath of WW2 in the Baltics, a period and region many in our movement may be less familiar with. Brave men fought against the Soviet occupation for many years, toiling and suffering, while their families and loved ones did the same. This triptych presents the relationships between a brother, a lover, and a mother, all present in the fight.  It was not long ago that these men and women fought their struggle, and it may not be too far in the future that we will face a similar challenge.

The Union by Æthelrey tells the story of a Polish hussar at war against Islamic invaders.  While riding with his troop, he faces a situation that brings the nature and potential cost of the war into clear focus, but which I won’t spoil.  The language is particularly beautiful, on the cusp of poetry itself. In the modern world it is easy to forget that historical events featured individuals struggling with similar emotions, goals, and dreams as we do.  When we read of a battle from 500 years ago, it’s hard to wrap the mind around “20,000 dead” meaning that 20,000 homes had an empty seat for the rest of its days.  Stories like this help bring those facts into reality. By rehumanizing our ancestors in our minds, we achieve a deeper connection to them than before.

Ghost Stories by Casey McDonough depicts a fairly standard modern American man going through one such journey to an understanding of the men of the past. This is something our opponents have never experienced. They have placed our heroes of the past firmly in the category of “Marvel movie villains.” They denigrate our legends as devils, whose goals are to destroy the world, or mindlessly inflict pain.  We all know that’s not the case, and the characters of the story are presented with this challenge to their worldview and how to resolve that internal dilemma. The whole story is gripping, and especially poignant for anyone with Southern ancestry.

Why We Fight by Arminius is an excellent distillation of that underlying current of the book, as well as a shot in the arm to spur us on toward greater things. I may still do a Full Haus bit containing this one, so I don’t want to spoil it too much, but I’ll drop the final words here. “Victory is who we are.”

This entire book is like a highly concentrated anti-depressant and pre-workout mix in written form. There are many works included that I have not mentioned, yet deeply affected me. I encourage everyone to buy it, read it slowly, one or two works at a time, and speak all the poetry out loud.  Whether our grandchildren will be studying in a quiet schoolhouse, or a remote forest grove, this is one of the books they will be reading. Send us an email if any part of the book had a particular impact on you; we’d love to hear about it. Hail victory!

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