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Just And Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations Paperback – Jul 26 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 4 edition (July 26 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465037070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465037070
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"A magnificent book, an honor to its writer... a book that makes for a return of civilised discussion of the question of the morality of war." New York Review of Books "A passionate defense of the old principle of non-combatant immunity... (He) is both thorough and persuasive in his exploration of a very intricate subject." Washington Post"

About the Author

Michael Walzer is Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, and the author of many widely heralded books, including 'Spheres of Justice, Exodus and Revolution', and 'The Company of Critics', all available from Basic Books. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Walzer's book is a superb introduction to Just War. It addresses both justice of war and justice in war. Most importantly, it is philosophical and deep while at the same time always clear and well illustrated with concrete examples and historical cases. It really could not be better written. Every chapter is concise, fascinating and provides an excellent overview/introduction to its respected subject.
The main framework for Justice of War is the legalist paradigm/domestic analogy. In society, one is allowed to defend oneself if attacked. Analagously, a country can fight a war in self defense. Similarly, if evidence is uncovered that someone is plotting a murder or robbery, domestic authorities don't have to wait until he actually commits the crime to intervene. When the evidence accumulates to a certain level, beyond reasonable doubt say, they can intervene and pre-empt him. Same thing applies on the international scale: pre-emption is legitimate. Walzer illustrates this with the Six Day War of 1967, a preemptive war initiated by Israel. Of course, the current War on Iraq is supposed to be preemptive as well. But, as Walzer shows, it is in fact preventive. Prevention is when you intervene against a known bad person or country without specific evidence of an imminent attack because one believes that this person or country would harm one if it could and it can't be allowed to gain more power, because then it will attack, even though it won't now. Or roughly that ;) Walzer claims that preventive wars sometimes lead to unnecesary wars, to wars against countries that never would have attacked. Therefore, they are unjustified; we should wait until we have sufficient evidence for plans of a definite attack at some point in the near future. I find if persausive.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Walzer's book is an in-depth look at the morality of war. It is not an easy read especially for the laymen. It helps if the reader has a good grounding in philosophy and understands the idea of "moral relativism". His book makes an in depth study of many facets of what takes place in warfare. The chapter that I found most interesting because it is in the news so much was on pre-emptive warfare. Walzer does believe that countries have the right to go to war pre-emotively but he does set the bar quite high. He believes a country must really be under eminent attack before it acts pre-emotively. He did believe that Israel acted justly in its pre-emptive attack against the Arabs in the 1967 war. He also defines terrorism as a criminal act and not a justifiable act of war. He makes a clear distinction between terrorism and guerilla warfare, deeming guerilla warfare a moral method of warfare.
I recommend this book for military, political professionals and for philosophers.
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Format: Paperback
The problem of just vs unjust war is an aspect of democracy that especially comes forth in its urgency at the present time.
This might then be the most important book for reading at this historical moment. Yet, it is only part of the trajectory of Walzer's concern with democracy vs the programmed decline or even death of democracy in countries where democracy seemed so basic to the self definition of nations. Interestingly enough LaMonde Diplomatique in an article entitled "A Quiet Totalitarianism" begins with reference to the writing of Michael Walzer. Why? Because Walzer is among the first to identify a crisis in liberal democracy in America, but also paradoxically precisely in those countries where certain other of the democratic practices were firs installed. His work throughout is like a beam of light the shows the transformation of the political, moral, and philosophical basis of democracy: we see the symptoms in the recent American presidential election, the changing intervention of the Supreme court but those who wish to guard democracy must read Walzer also to understand the changing, often hidden, but real shift in the social contract that is occuring.
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By G B on Jan. 18 2002
Format: Paperback
Professor Michael Walzer examines just war theory in a clear, methodical and rigorous fashion. Concrete examples clarify and flesh out the theory. It covers not just conventional warfare, but also several offshoots that have become much more relevant since the 1950: peacetime reprisals, guerrilla warfare, and terrorism. In addition, he dissects the notions of "war crimes" and official/bureaucrat/citizen responsibility for war. These analyses are especially useful as today's violent conflicts become more fragmented and in some ways "messier". Walzer's viewpoint is definitely from a left-of-center perspective (not *far* left), but I think people of any political persuasion would find reading it to be extremely insightful. He doesn't shy away from controversy yet his arguments are always well-reasoned. Highly recommended to both the layman and political scientist/philosopher, especially as we enter the uncertainty of the post-9/11 world.
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Format: Paperback
This book, which Walzer did write as a polemic against the Vietnam War (something that many other people did at the same time) is one of the seminal texts in the often maligned discourse (atleast by Americans) regarding international political ethics. For what it is, it is a valuable book: Walzer is an erudite scholar who possesses a substantial knowledge of his material and a command of his subject. Perhaps it would be a bit dry if you were forced to read it-- but then, what isn't?
For what this book is-- an attempt to summarize the ways throughout time and to make them relevant for its time (i.e. twenty five years ago) this is a powerful book. Now-- as to being a text for a European history class......
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