Saturday, February 27, 2010

Everyone Seems to Love a "Good War"


Looks like an interesting new book due out in April.  Too bad amazon doesn't provide links to the book reviews quoted on the page, because I would like to read what Meacham and Isaacson have to say about the book.  Should give an ideological framework to the Spanish-America War.

12 comments:

  1. Those look like "blurbs" from the dust jacket. Sounds fascinating!

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  2. I think "The Warmongers" might have been a better title. For TR, "war" was a right of passage. From what I read, he apparently held it against his father (at least in part) that he didn't fight in the Civil War. In the Spanish-American War TR redeemed his family name. Roosevelt would later chastise Wilson to no end for waiting so long to get into the "Great War," only to lose one of his sons.

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  3. Sadly, it seems to be embedded in our very dna now. Nothing brings the nation together like a good war.

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  4. I remember the Chris Hedges book we read in an old NYT reading group. I think it was called "War is the Force that Gives us Meaning," or something to that effect. I guess he was trying to look at it an ironic way, but somehow it wasn't as strong a set of thoughts on the subject as I hoped for.

    We do seem to be view war as a positive force until it grows ugly and there is no clear exit strategy. I suppose the last "good war" was WWII where there was a clear winner and loser, although we tend to brush the Yalta compromise under the rug and forget about Eastern Europe.

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  5. Usually war for the US is invasion and occupation somewhere else. I think that started in earnest during the Roosevelt era with that whole idea of "barbarian virtues" and "protecting our little brown brother."

    Plus, Hearst figured out how to stir everyone up for his own gain.

    This book might suggest otherwise, but we owe a lot to Hearst in how the press is manipulated in support of war. I think I mentioned here awhile back that I prepared a presentation on WWII propaganda towards the Japanese. It was amazing -- portraying them as vermin (rats, cockroaches, etc.) Isn't that part of Hedges' argument -- that we dehumanize our "enemy" so we can slaughter them?

    [I have another book to review on the history of the islands off Vancouver, but I turn in my forest service draft today so hopefully will now have a little more time to think and read again.]

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  6. Yes, "War Is The Force That Gives Us Meaning" is the Chris Hedges book we discussed, though "ironic" is a term that would never leap to my mind when considering anyone as intense and earnest as former divinity student Hedges.

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  7. What I meant by that was that Hedges was not defending war. It was an odd book, as I don't think he fully embraced his title. Or, maybe it was one of those titles that got decided upon by the publishing company that didn't fit his thoughts and ruminations on war. Anyway, it was a bit of a disappointment, especially coming out at the height of the Iraq War.

    Curious to see "Hurt Locker" now that it has been nominated for an Oscar. Years ago I saw a documentary, Voices of Iraq, which took a more anecdotal approach to the war,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voices_of_Iraq

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  8. I didn't read that book at the time, but always assumed the title was meant ironically -- or at least with a tinge of sadness? Is that what you are getting at, NY? Or was I reading my own bias into the title?

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  9. I suppose I didn't consider the title ironic because I associate that with a certain coolness or distance, whereas Hedges was pretty intense about the devastating effects of war on the character of those involved in it--in his case as a journalist, and he cut himself no slack for being a journalist instead of a combatant. That war does indeed give meaning to those involved is his premise--but the nature of that meaning...

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  10. I guess it's one of those books that you just have to read for yourself. I admire the few things I've read by Hedges. Just never got to that one.

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  11. I haven't gotten to Hedges' war book either, but I think the title expresses that when he was "addicted" to covering wars, it gave him meaning and that the same applies to others who have served in war or served in press coverage of one.

    There is a heightened sense when in a war. I've heard that many who served in WWII felt that the war experience was the most exciting in their lives.

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  12. That is a good point. I imagine war correspondents feel the same way as soldiers in that they get a "rush" from combat experiences. Michael Herr described this very well in "Dispatches."

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