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Seymour Chwast

Mark Twain's War Prayer

On sale date: May 21, 2024

Mark Twain's lambasting of phony, war-mongering patriotism reinterpreted by one of our finest contemporary illustrators.

Written in 1910 in his 70th year, Mark Twain, having lived through fourteen wars waged just by his own country on others, declined to publish this poetic despairing reproof against patriotism. His regular illustrator Daniel Beard even urged Twain to issue the piece, to which the author replied, "No, I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead."

It took 13 years after his passing for that prophecy to be fulfilled — and now, another 102 years later, the legendary illustrator and graphic designer Seymour Chwast (himself 92 years young) has fulfilled Beard's dream of enriching the fable with illustration. Chwast brings every aspect of his skills to this interpretation: drawing, design, typography, type design, pastel painting and computer color all sit alongside each other with Twain's text in pages that expand and pace the original. With another century and a quarter of warfare passed since its writing, Chwast's artwork echoes advances in technology but Twain's message about the pointlessness of patriotism as a marketing hook for death is only more pointed today.


"Never has Chwast's political energy been on display so clearly and with so much concentrated energy. Mark Twain's War Prayer is a book horribly relevant, horribly significant in its art and for today's world." — Paul Buhle - Comics Grinder

"Legendary 92-year-old graphic and font designer Seymour Chwast takes a dazzling, multidisciplinary approach to Mark Twain's 104-year-old prose poem in this radical new book. Through drawing, pastel painting, type design, and computer color, Chwast breathes life into Twain's savage rebuke of religion's role in jingoism and violent patriotism." — Under the Radar


Color and Black-and-white
7.4" × 9.3"