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Warriors Honour by Michael Ignatieff

Warriors Honour (edition 2006)

by Michael Ignatieff

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144283,153 (3.68)1
Title:Warriors Honour
Authors:Michael Ignatieff
Info:Penguin Canada (2006), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:To read
Tags:Canadian, Non-fiction

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The Warrior's Honor by Michael Ignatieff



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This is an eloquent book, veering to poetry at times. For a book about the modern wars of militias and warlords within failed states, its eloquence actually gets in the way of the message at times. Occasionally one can even see that sometimes Ignatieff says something just because he has thought of an eloquent way of saying it. Not that I am accusing him of insincerity, for he is not. Nor that the book is without an honest message, for it has several.
The book is a sort of meditation on the nature of these "modern wars" that is colored much by his own personal experiences in several of them. The observation that is central to the book is that diverse people (who are really much alike too) can fall into a state of viewing the "other" as the enemy when a state begins to fail to protect them, and anarchy looms. In successful modern states, the protection is present, and the fiction that diverse people are underneath it all, the same, is maintained.

The book has a very intelligent treatment of the dilemma of the various aid agencies such as the Red Cross and the UN Peacekeepers in trying to ameliorate the effects of war, and maintain their credibility, while not prolonging it or even intensifying it.

On the other hand, the author is a little too reverent of Freudian and even Marxist ideas on the nature of man, both of whom have about zero credibility to the discerning reader. His account of the "Narcissism of Minor Differences" is just so much hooey to me. Ignatieff seems to be entirely uninformed of modern thinking on this problem, which goes by the name of evolutionary psychology, and to me, seems so much more insightful and informative.

The general problem of war is not treated here, only a particular form of it. The wars that inform his thinking in this book are those in Angola, Lebanon, Ireland and, especially, Yugoslavia, with a few "lessons" from the holocaust thrown in. There is not much in the way of systematic study, but rather a grab bag of ideas and anecdotal observations. Eloquently written, though... ( )
5 vote DonSiano | Oct 20, 2006 |
Ignatieff charts the rise of the new moral interventionists who believe that other people's misery concerns us all, introduces the new ethnic warriors who have escalated post-modern war to an unprecedented level of savagery and draws conclusions about the ambiguous ethics of engagement and the limited force of moral justice in a world of war.
  antimuzak | Nov 9, 2005 |
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Full title (1st American edition): The warrior's honor : ethnic war and the modern conscience / Michael Ignatieff; original UK edition has title The warrior's honour : ethnic war and the modern conscience
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805055193, Paperback)

Between 1993 and 1997, Michael Ignatieff traveled through the battlefields of modern ethnic war, visiting Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan to consider the mixture of moral solidarity and hubris that led Western nations to embark on the campaign of "putting the world to rights." Why do some people and nations, he wonders, feel morally responsible for strangers thousands of miles away? In The Warrior's Honor, Ignatieff explores this question by skillfully combining eyewitness accounts of modern war with a historian's insight into the constancy of human conflict.

Ignatieff's concisely written essays examine four primary themes: the moral connection created by modern culture with distant victims of war, the architects of postmodern war, the impact of ethnic war abroad on our thinking about ethnic accommodations at home (the "seductive temptation of misanthropy"), and the function of memory and social healing. He firmly believes that "the world is not becoming more chaotic or violent, although our failure to understand and act makes it seem so." The Warrior's Honor takes an important step toward educating the reader about the historical context of modern ethnic conflict. Perhaps most importantly, Ignatieff fosters discussion of the means by which deeper, more permanent commitments can be made in the future to minimize such atrocities. --Bertina Loeffler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

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"Dramatic and startling realizations about the ambiguous ethics of engagement, the limited force of moral justice in a world of war, and the inevitable clash between those who defend tribal and national loyalties and those who speak the universal language of human rights."--Jacket.… (more)

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