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War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaningby Chris Hedges
Nominated for the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award, General Nonfiction
Synopses & Reviews
General George S. Patton famously said, "Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God, I do love it so!" Though Patton was a notoriously single-minded general, it is nonetheless a sad fact that war gives meaning to many lives, a fact with which we have become familiar now that America is once again engaged in a military conflict. War is an enticing elixir. It gives us purpose, resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble.
Chris Hedges of The New York Times has seen war up close — in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central America — and he has been troubled by what he has seen: friends, enemies, colleagues, and strangers intoxicated and even addicted to war's heady brew. In War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, he tackles the ugly truths about humanity's love affair with war, offering a sophisticated, nuanced, intelligent meditation on the subject that is also gritty, powerful, and unforgettable.
"If...I thought Bush and Blair would give it time I would happily send them a copy to read." Jonathan Power, Toronto Star
"I highly recommend Chris Hedges' splendid little book....His understanding is profound and was earned on the ground." Molly Ivins, author of Bushwhacked
"As the 'war on terror' continues on its...potentially catastrophic course, America would do well to heed Hedges'...warning." Salon.com
"Hedges' account of the horrors of war follows a confession of rare and frightening honesty." Slate.com
Book News Annotation:
Hedges, a long-time foreign correspondent for The New York Times, draws on his own experiences in Latin America, Bosnia, and elsewhere; treatments of war in literature; and historical events to examine the way human beings experience war and to suggest that war gives rise to dangerous myths of the nobility of the cause. He argues that there are very few people who are not susceptible to the allure of war, but that, in the end, war becomes a contest between eros and thanatos, in which thanatos comes out on top all too often.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A veteran New York Times war correspondent presents a thought-provoking reflection on how life is lived during times of war, and tackles the ugly truths about humanity's love affair with war, offering a sophisticated, intelligent meditation on the subject that is also gritty, powerful, and unforgettable.
A veteran New York Times war correspondent's complex, moving, and thought-provoking reflection on how life is lived most intensely in times of war
It is often said that war is hell. But for many of the people who experience war first hand--civilians and soldiers alike--it is an emotionally intense and even exhilarating experience. War is an intoxicating and addictive elixir. It gives us purpose, resolve, a cause. Chris Hedges, an award winning journalist for the New York Times, illustrates the complex dichotomy of war in the paperback reissue of the award-winning War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
One need look no further than America in the days following September 11, 2001 to see the effects of war: how heightened our senses were, how every event seemed momentous, and how full of meaning our lives became. Such feelings, Hedges points out, are characteristic of war in general--as soldiers and civilians come to see themselves as part of a grand cause or nation, their lives take on a new vividness and a new meaning. Sometimes this leads them to do great things; sometimes it leads them to commit crimes. Based on the literature of combat and his own experiences in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central America, Hedges challenges us to take a look at the spiritual and emotional costs of war.
War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is one of those rare books that transcends matter to offer profound insights into the human condition itself. Drawing on a lifetime's reading of literature and philosophy from Homer to Shakespeare to Erich Maria Remarque and Michael Herr, Hedges reflects on the impact of war on the ordinary individuals--a topic with a continued urgency for America today.
About the Author
Chris Hedges has been a foreign correspondent for fifteen years. He joined the staff of The New York Times in 1990 and previously worked for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and National Public Radio. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
1 The Myth of War 19
2 The Plague of Nationalism 43
3 The Destruction of Culture 62
4 The Seduction of Battle and the Perversion of War 83
5 The Hijacking and Recovery of Memory 122
6 The Cause 142
7 Eros and Thanatos 157
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History and Social Science » American Studies » Culture Wars