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1 Burnside Military- General

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning


War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning Cover



Author's Note

When I returned to New York following the Gulf War I was struck by how the country had changed in the three months I had been away. War had become fashionable. The ghosts of Vietnam had been vanquished. War was a great video arcade game. It was fun. It has been ever since.

All of America's wars in the 1990s, with the exception of Somalia, where we scurried away, have been relatively cost-free. As if wars can ultimately remain cost-free. By the time the war in Afghanistan rolled around, we were conditioned to embrace the myth of war. And yet if human history is any guide, nations and imperiums have always faltered and stumbled and even fallen when they believed the myths peddled about war and about themselves.

I have spent most of my life in war. I have great admiration for the good qualities, and there are good qualities, of the professional warrior. But I fear that we are losing touch with ourselves, with our role in the world and with the danger such enthusiasm for war ultimately brings to our nation. I wanted to expose the old lie about the glory of war. I wanted to lay bare war's contagion. And I wanted to do it now as we enter a new and volatile moment in our history, one where introspection is so necessary and so lacking.

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dreeves1, February 7, 2007 (view all comments by dreeves1)
Although Hedges is not a pacifist, by any means, he makes for a strong argument that human beings and governments are shaped by their wars. His first account view of war leaves the reader with a deep and meaningful idea of the lessons that war has to teach us as a people.
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Product Details

Hedges, Chris
Anchor Books
New York
Military - General
Military Science
War and society
Military history, Modern
War and civilization
Political Freedom & Security - International Secur
Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Military-General History
war;politics;non-fiction;history;philosophy;journalism;current affairs;sociology;psychology;military history;culture;violence;current events;military;cultural studies;society;religion;nationalism;political science;peace;bosnia;social commentary;middle eas
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
June 10, 2003
Grade Level:
7.96x5.26x.60 in. .51 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » Culture Wars
History and Social Science » Military » General
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Politics » Activism and Peace Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Culture

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning Used Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Anchor Books/Doubleday - English 9781400034635 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"The title might give the impression that this book would be at home on Patton's shelf, but a glance at the chapter headings shows the book's true heart and mind: 'The Myth of War,' 'The Plague of Nationalism,' 'The Highjacking and Recovery of Memory,' etc. A former seminary student, Hedges is a longtime war correspondent for the New York Times who has seen enough of death and killing. He has seen many governments use the same manipulation of facts to generate support for war and quash dissent."

"Staff Pick" by ,

"War is seductive," Hedges tells readers in this powerful and intelligent book. Throughout our history, it has appealed to the human mind by providing a false sense of purpose and the opportunity to rise above everyday life. Using examples from his experiences as a veteran war correspondent, Hedges debunks the ennobling myth of war, showing its brutality and its devastating effect upon community, life, and culture. Hedges, who's no pacifist, smartly cautions us against assenting to the myths that accompany war. This invaluable work should be required reading, especially now.

"Review" by , "[Hedges'] book is an example of the best kind of war journalism: It is bitterly poetic and ruthlessly philosophical. It sends out a powerful message to people contemplating the escalation of the 'war against terrorism.'"
"Review" by , "A brilliant, thoughtful, timely and unsettling will rattle jingoists, pacifists, moralists, nihilists, politicians and professional soldiers equally."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "If...I thought Bush and Blair would give it time I would happily send them a copy to read."
"Review" by , "Hedges' account of the horrors of war follows a confession of rare and frightening honesty."
"Review" by , "I highly recommend Chris Hedges' splendid little book....His understanding is profound and was earned on the ground."
"Review" by , "[I]n a category all its own....[His] extremely moving book should be read by anyone fascinated by this least understood and most terrible of human follies, and especially by those who have any responsibility for conceiving, planning, or conducting future wars."
"Review" by , "[P]ainfully and profoundly illustrates how conflict destroys those it engulfs, not only in the sense of physical death but in terms of individual and collective spirit, culture and polity....[A]n insightful, provocative and elegantly written work."
"Review" by , "In times of increasing flag-waving, Mr. Hedges' book is bracing, essential."
"Review" by , "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning has found an audience and a place in the discussion about the war in Iraq and its consequences."
"Review" by , "Rarely is a book so timely as Hedges' latest...a refreshing jolt of cerebral and emotional clarity to war's all-encompassing destruction..."
"Review" by , "Chris Hedges has written a powerful book, one which bears sad witness to what veterans have long understood....[A] somber and timely warning to those — in any society — who would evoke the emotions of war for the pursuit of political gain."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , In this exposé of the seductive and corrupting power of war for individuals and societies, Hedges draws upon his own experiences and events he has witnessed as a correspondent in far-off lands. He also balances these with writings on war by writers from the Classical period to the present day. A New York Times Notable Book for 2002.
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , 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 the most 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.

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