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.
©2007 Chris Hedges; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"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)
I don't know who could better examine this subject than someone fascinated by, driven by, and drawn to, war. Chris Hedges has found ways to get himself into conflicts over the past 20 years, not as a detached, in-the-briefing-room journalist, but as someone at the scene, again and again and again. He describes the emotion of living in war, the emotion when war is over, why and how conflicts begin, the importance of words. He lives with and talks with participants, blending their words and his observations with the literature of war, ancient to modern. From history, philosophy, theater, he adds perspective with others' voices. We are fortunate for his experiences, drawn together with that of others in the conflicts to offer meaning to this subject. Those bound by slogans and preconceptions may have to loosen up to gain the book's intended value. But the book is personal in more than the living and writing, Hedges also does the narration. Very well done.
Hedges reading his own work is powerful. His descriptions of war's costs to both the individual and society obliterate the pro war propaganda that's so common in today's media. It's easy to see the origins of themes he expands on in Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Hedges raises and shares views of war not normally articulated. The mixing of research and personal observations adds to the perspectives.
I'm a huge Hedges fan but purchased the audio book to listen to it with my husband on a car vacation. First published in 2003, during the end of the Bush era, what it says holds up quite well, and as a faithful reader of Hedges at Truthdig, lays the foundation for much of what Hedges still writes.
Hearing it read by Hedges himself makes the words still more thoughtful.
This is a book that I go back to over and over. My husband works with veterans. I work with kids whose parents are deployed or have been deployed and I hear the _echoes_ of this book many times.
I think about Hedges' final message repetitively. If we are going to unleash the dogs of war, we should always be aware of what the _ongoing_ costs are. And Hedges uniquely lays out a discussion of what those costs are. Clearly, the wars we are prosecuting in the middle east are not "worth it", never were, and continue to not be worth it.
Worth a read and definitely worth a listen.
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