As a small child of 10 of so, I was a teacher's brat who practically lived in the local public library of the small California town where Mum taught. In the course of my many trips to the library I discovered a small, whimsically illustrated book about a war between two nations, one comprised of fat people and the other peopled by thin ones. It was a wonderfully droll account of war between two nations over the silliest and most nonsensical of philosophies and I was terribly impressed by the moral admonishment it contained about the eternal senselessness of human warfare. That was in 1956. 51 years later, I was still trying to remember the salient identifying details of the book well enough to locate a copy for my personal library. I remembered the characters only as 'The Fattifers and the Thinnifers', although that was not an accurate title for the book. To my great fortune, I recently happened across a passing reference by someone on the internet about the book (in a totally different context) and was able to finally obtain the author's name, an accurate title, and an ISBN for this jewel of an allegorical children's book. The book was written originally back in the early 1930s by Frenchman Andre Maurois for his sons and its title was 'Fattypuffs and Thinifers' (or 'Patapoufs et Filifers' in French). Illustrated beautifully by Jean Bruller, this brilliantly witty (and highly ironic) parable about a war between fat people and thin people was not lost on me--even as a child. Some years afterwards I joined the uniformed Vietnam War protest while serving in the US Air Force and came back to Berkeley (CA) upon my discharge, where I ended up on the student barricades with Mario Savio and the other guiding lights of the Free Speech Movement of the 60s. Although as an admirer of Louis-Ferdinand Celine, I fully appreciated the greater benefit of thining out the world's population of thoughtless idiots that war bestows on us, I have incidentally been opposed to war all of my life. I am convinced that, aside from having read Proust and Hugo at an early age, my accidental encounter with Andre Maurois' marvelous book at a tender age resulted in that preference for diplomacy over bloodshed. Whether one is of warlike sentiment or totally in opposition to war, Maurois' wonderful parable about the essential folly of war is not to be missed. Suitable for children from 6 through 99, it is one of those books that every well-read and reflectively intelligent individuial should have in his or her library. If you are not terribly impressed after reading this timeless book, there's essentially no hope for you, friend, and in that case the Bush administration has a place for you on its Pentagon War Planning Staff as the outgoing Administration gears up for an invasion of Iran.
[It never hurts to recall Norwegian composer Carl Nielsen's famous quote "Patriotism has become a spiritual syphilis that devours the brains and grins out through empty eye sockets with moronic hate!", before bounding off into renewed battle with the 'enemy du jour']. There is a timelessness about this book that everyone would do well to familiarise themselves with, I think...child or Pentagon Chief of Staff alike.