One of the most astonishing aspects of Hesse's career is the clear-sightedness and consistency of his political views, his passionate espousal of pacifism and internationalism from the start of World War I to the end of his life. The earliest essay in this book was written in September 1914 and was followed by a stream of letters, essays, and pamphlets that reached its high point with Zarathustra's Return (published anonymously in 1919, the year that also saw the publication of Demian), in which Hesse exhorted German youth to shake off the false gods of nationalism and militarism that had led their country into the abyss. Such views earned him the labels "traitor" and "viper" in Germany, but after World War II he was moved to reiterate his beliefs in another series of essays and letters.
Hesse arranged his anti-war writing for publication in one volume in 1946; an amplified edition appeared in 1949 and that text has been followed for this first English-language edition. In his foreword Hesse describes the heart of the philosophy expressed here: "In each one of these essays I strive to guide the reader not into the world theater with its political problemns but into his innermost being, before the judgment seat of his very personal conscience." This faith in salvation via the Inward Way, so familiar to readers of Hesse's fiction, is persuasively set forth as the answer to questions of war and peace.