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Book Review: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

war is a force book cover

War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Christopher Hedges

I didn’t enjoy Chris Hedges’ book War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, but I’m not sure who would. The core messages are grim. My primary takeaway on the first reading was that war is a drug. It is addictive. Hedges was an addict. Even when he returned home, again and again he was compelled to return to the battlefield.

I wonder if he would still classify himself as an addict?

Hedges was a war correspondent for 15 years across various battlefields. In each one he observed similarities: war is dehumanizing and even the most heinous atrocities can become commonplace.

Another key point is his iteration that although he is not a pacifist, he does not believe that here is any such thing as a “good war.” His critiques of propaganda, nationalization, and misguided notions of honor and nobility were highly persuasive to me.

War is a Force draws primarily from his own experience, so I can’t recommend it to anyone looking for a book of arguments that are backed up by a voluminous bibliography. But I found it all very compelling. Like most men I know who have never seen combat, and hopefully never will, I continue to find the subject riveting.

Note: I listened to this book on audio, and found it a very high quality audiobook. It’s somber, and it’s definitely not a “performance” audiobook, but hearing the authors recount stories of personal horror added another poignant element for me.


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