War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

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War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
by Chris Hedges


This is the paperback edition.The hardcover is also available.

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Book Description

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.

From the Back Cover

“A brilliant, thoughtful, timely and unsettling book. . . . Abounds with Hedges’ harrowing and terribly moving eyewitness accounts . . . Powerful and informative.” – The New York Times Book Review

“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.’” –Los Angeles Times

“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.” —General Wesley K. Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and author of Waging Modern War

“[A] powerful chronicle of modern war . . . .A persuasive call for humility and realism in the pursuit of national goals by force of arms . . . .a potent and eloquent warning.” --The New York Times

“No one is in a better position than Hedges to pronounce on the revolting things war does to everyone caught up in it. . . . A confession of rare and frightening honesty.” –Slate.com

About the Author

Chris Hedges has been a foreign correspondent for fifteen years. Currently on staff at The New York Times, he has previously worked for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and National Public Radio. He holds a master of divinity from Harvard University. He lives in New York City.

Editorial Reviews

Military History

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.

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.

Slate.com, September 11, 2002.
"Hedges' account of the horrors of war follows a confession of rare and frightening honesty."

New York Times Book Review, September 29, 2002
"A brilliant, thoughtful, timely and unsettling book...it will rattle jingoists, pacifists, moralists, nihilists, politicians and professional soldiers equally..."

Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2002
"the best kind of war journalism:...bitterly poetic and ruthlessly philosophical... a powerful message to people contemplating the[war on terror].'"

Salon.com, November 25, 2002.
"As the 'war on terror' continues on its...potentially catastrophic course, America would do well to heed Hedges'...warning."

Molly Ivins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 22, 2002.
"I highly recommend Chris Hedges' splendid little book...His understanding is profound and was earned on the ground."

Jonathan Power, Toronto Star, December 27, 2003.
"If...I thought Bush and Blair would give it time I would happily send them a copy to read."

Reviewer's Choice, Dallas Morning News, February 13, 2003
[Hedges] doesn't tell us that war is hell. He escorts us through the streets made slick with the blood...of innocents."

Foreign Affairs, March/April 2003
a compelling read and a valuable counterweight to the more antiseptic discussions common among strategic analysts."

Liz Smith, syndicated columnist, February 16, 2003
"small but readable...[Hedges] is a brilliant reporter... It's the book to read now."

Willamette Week, March 14, 2003.
"Rarely is a book so timely as Hedges' latest,...a refreshing jolt of cerebral and emotional clarity to war's all-encompassing destruction..."

Book Info
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.

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