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War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaningby Chris Hedges
Synopses & Reviews
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.
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
As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”
Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies—corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary.
About the Author
Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (with Joe Sacco), American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto. He lives in Princeton, N.J.
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