We Will Not Cease
by Archibald Baxter

Archibald Baxter's lone letter home

From We Will Not Cease:
"I have just time to send you this brief note. I am being sent up the lines tomorrow. As far as military service goes, I am of the same mind as ever. It is impossible for me to serve in the army. I would a thousand times rather be put to death and I am sure you all believe that the stand I take is right. I have never told you since I left New Zealand of the things I have passed through, for I knew how it would hurt you. I only tell you now, so that if anything happens to me you will know. I have suffered to the limit of my endurance, but I will never in my sane senses surrender to the evil power that has fixed its roots like a cancer on the world. I have been treated like a soldier who disobeys (No. I Field Punishment*). That is hard enough at this time of the year, but what made it worse for me was that I was bound to refuse military work, even as a prisoner. It is not possible for me to tell you in words what I have suffered. But you will be glad to know that I have met with a great many men who have shown me the greatest kindness. If you ever hear that I have served in the army or that I have taken my own life, do not believe that I did it in my sound mind. I never will...."

*The victims were tied to forward leaning posts and left for extensive periods of time.

Reader reviews of We Will Not Cease:

I am not good enough at writing to put together a review that does this book justice. All I can say is that Archibald Baxter was a true hero, the bravest man I know of, and this is the saddest book I have ever read.

—Tom Markham, New Zealand

This is an amazing book written by an amazing man. As powerful as "All Quiet On The Western Front" it points out the extremes of human nature as well as the vulnerability of every person to persecution by even "democratic" governments. Unfortunately, the hard reality revealed in this book is that the majority of humans are only capable of blind allegiance to a state, and too few willing to resist whatever the cost. I don't think I could have done what Archie Baxter did, and I pray I never have to find out!

—Nick Leonard, Portland OR

This autobiographical story is of a New Zealand potato farmer whose absolute resolution and commitment to belief is both unique and extraordinary. A pacifist forcibly taken to the first world war by his government, this story is one of a man with immense conviction in his belief and of the military force intent on forcing him into submission.

Throughout the book Archibald Baxter's confidence in the righteousness of his own belief and the lack of ill will he shows to those who punished and brutalized him is really quite remarkable. Despite the immense suffering Baxter endured, the book is remarkably balanced and honest in its description of all the people involved.

This book was first written in the 1930's I believe, on events from 1916-1918. Despite this We Will Not Cease is even today a moving and profound account of a man who not only held strong beliefs but when these beliefs were tested he defended them to such an extraordinary degree. We Will Not Cease is a very readable account of man's moral courage being tested to the extreme, and against all odds, of succeeding.

—A reader from Australia

 

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