"War is God's way...."

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 18 19:40:01 UTC 2014

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Possibly the hottest new misattributed quote is this:
> "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."
> It is confidently assigned to "Ambrose Bierce, in his _Devil's
> Dictionary_."
> I immediately knew that was wrong...

Thanks for pointing to a new wave of popularity for this saying.
Comedian Jon Stewart has used it in the past according to quotation
compiler Robert Byrne. I researched the expression in 2013 after
receiving a request and found that the basic adage has been evolving
since the 1800s. Barry has a valuable entry on the topic here:


As JL notes there is no substantive evidence that Ambrose Bierce spoke
or wrote the saying. Your interest (and others) gives this topic a
high priority.

The QI website has a new entry about another quotation that has been
misattributed to Ambrose Bierce:

Speak When You’re Angry and You’ll Make the Best Speech You’ll Ever Regret

Strangely, the Oxford Book of American Quotations assigned this saying
to Bierce.


Continuing JL's message:
> even when it was cited by Fareed
> Zakaria, because not only have I read Ambrose Bierce's _Devil's
> Dictionary_,  but I can also recall the popularity, around 1970, of the
> saying "Death is God's way of telling you to slow down."   There is also
> the much later, "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."
> GB takes the "war" zinger back to 2002, quite some time after Bierce's
> disappearance 100 years ago.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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