War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It is indeed, but not a meaning that can endure in peacetime. War — like any life threatening disaster (tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, plague) — makes priorities suddenly clear: first, to survive, and second to save whatever is most important to us. And when the bombs strike Sarajevo, what is most important becomes suddenly, magically clear, regardless of any existential doubts we may have had the nights before. The importance of this book is not that it tells us anything new — as Hedges reminds us, Homer and Shakespeare (especially in Troilus and Cressida) and many others have told us both the horrible and wonderful things that happen in the terrible excitement of war. No, Hedges does not claim to be saying anything new, but because he speaks not just from literature or watching CNN but from his own personal and often terrifying experience as a war correspondent for The New York Times and other media in many wars, of the addiction of violence, the intense but entirely circumstantial camaraderie of combattants, and the deliberate distortions and mythologizing by those at the homefront that make such destruction possible and recurrent, he makes us believe. We have to be grateful to him for living these experiences on our behalf, and for recounting them so vividly.
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