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War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning Paperback – Apr 8 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (April 8 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610393597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610393591
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"The communal march against an enemy generates a warm, unfamiliar bond with our neighbors, our community, our nation, wiping out unsettling undercurrents of alienation and dislocation," writes Chris Hedges, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. In War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Hedges draws on his experiences covering conflicts in Bosnia, El Salvador and Israel as well as works of literature from the Iliad to Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism to look at what makes war so intoxicating for soldiers, politicians and ordinary citizens. He discusses outbreaks of nationalism, the wartime silencing of intellectuals and artists, the ways in which even a supposedly skeptical press glorifies the battlefield and other universal features of war, arguing not for pacifism but for responsibility and humility on the part of those who wage war.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This moving book examines the continuing appeal of war to the human psyche. Veteran New York Times correspondent Hedges argues that, to many people, war provides a purpose for living; it seems to allow the individual to rise above regular life and perhaps participate in a noble cause. Having identified this myth, Hedges then explodes it by showing the brutality of modern war, using examples taken from his own experiences as a war correspondent in Latin America, the Middle East, and the Balkans. These examples highlight the devastating effects of war on life, community, and culture and its corruption of business and government. Hedges is not a pacifist, acknowledging that people need to battle evil, but he thoughtfully cautions us against accepting the accompanying myths of war. This should be required reading in this post-9/11 world as we debate the possibility of war with Iraq. For all libraries.
Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is provacative and disturbing in that it strips away the veneer of war by relating the author's eye witness accounts of the brutatily, fear, humiliation, destruction, physchological addiction and damage (and occasional acts of humanity) that war brings to those who participate in it or are simply caught up in it and unable to escape. The book is at its strongest in this regard.
The author does not attempt an analysis of the causes of war per se but does consitently attack the tenets of racism, nationalism and various ideologies used to promote and justify it and does a good job of exposing just who these promoters often are. He also includes a fair dose of self-criticism and angst concerning his own participation in covering war as a correspondent, and includes stories of other correspondents. He also touches upon the ways in which the media use and are used by war's promoters and participants.
The book is short, more of an extended essay, and not structured as an analysis or argument. The author strays in his philosphical take on issues of love versus war or friendship within war that I think distract from his essential point in writing the book --- exposing war for what it is. But again, this is an essay style book and not an historical or scientific analysis, so opine away he does and why not.
Perhaps some of the virulent criticism he has received emanates from his daring to lump America's own often-virulent nationalism and its own war promoters and war managers into the same basket as the more unsavory types inhabiting Central America or the Balkans. In so doing he insinuates that we Americans too are part and parcel of the horrors of war and not immune to its appeal. Poor fellow, in this post 9-11 world to question anything about 'us' is to invite rabid criticism.
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By A Customer on Oct. 5 2002
Format: Paperback
Chris Hedges was a war correspondent for many years, covering the various wars and insurgencies in Central America, North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. This book is not so much a memoir (although Hedges draws deeply on his own experience) as it is a meditation on the effects of war and of the nationalist myths that often provide a basis for war -- how easy it is to be caught up by the myth of the hero, of noble sacrifice, of the utter depravity (inhumanity) of the enemy (the Other), and how difficult it is to recover from the inevitable disillusionment when the terror of war, the collapse of morality and the essential humanity of the Other is revealed. Hedges is at his best in discussing the aftermath of war -- the collective forgetting as history and memory are erased, lest the survivors be forced to face what they have done. Yet it is only by recovering the truth, acknowledging guilt and seeking reconciliation that society can begin to heal and move forward.
Hedges' message is an important one as we rush headlong into war, particularly for all who demonize the "axis of evil" without acknowledging the role we have played in creating the despair and rage that have turned men and women into terrorists. As Hedges shows, it is difficult for non-combatants to resist the national myth, to penetrate behind the approved rhetoric, to waver from the absolute, unquestioning patriotism demanded by the state. But some must do so if we are to keep our moral compass and begin to heal the world (i.e., to address the despair felt by both sides).
Although the message is strong, there are a few weaknesses in this book.
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Format: Paperback
While the book is imperfect (other reviewers have, I believe, accurately noted the limited analytical material), it is very accessible, easily read, hits key points about the human propensity to make war, and articulates some of the elements that characterize all wars--plus, his spiels about the addictive nature of war are compelling, palpable. I could feel the adrenalin rush...I have shared this book with many friends and acquaintances precisely because it is so readable. It is a reminder to all of us--regardless of our political persuasion--about the mindset that takes over when a nation goes to war. I don't think we can hear too many such reminders.
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Format: Paperback
Chris is a journalist and war correspondent. He's covered
many of the bloodiest conflicts in the last 15-20 years.
In spite of the danger, he found himself addicted to the
rush of war.
If you ever want to read what war is really about and how
it psychologically damages not only the soldiers involved,
but also the "non-combatant" populations and so-called
leaders back home, this book is for you. He
talks about the amnesia-insanity of entire societies
that occurs when war happens. But he offers no solutions
for how to get off this relentless treadmill to hell.
His descriptions of personal experiences from covering
wars on several continents are like sucker punches to the gut.
One quote:
"The enduring attraction of war is this:
Even with its destruction and carnage it can give you
what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a
reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict
does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become
The best antidote? A real leader. Vote for Dennis Kucinich who
really understands the value of peace.
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