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Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 27, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307271854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307271853
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Intelligent and often brave . . . Audacious . . . Important . . . Whatever you label Wolfe’s argument in Political Evil, it is timely, valuable and refreshingly adult.”
            -Jonathan Rauch, The New York Times Book Review
 
“In Political Evil, Alan Wolfe issues a compelling summons to moral and intellectual seriousness and conducts a multi-pronged and . . . soberly argued inquiry into the contemporary forms of political evil and the proper means for combating them.”
            -Peter Berkowitz, The Wall Street Journal
 
“[Wolfe’s] sentiments . . . seem both admirable and true.”
            -Michael Ignatieff, Slate
 
“Ambitious and important.”
            -Charles R. Morris, Commonweal
 
“This book has many virtues. Wolfe has done us a service in reminding us that human beings should be sensitive to their own fallibility, and to the dangers of a hubristic mustering of overwhelming force . . . Political Evil represents the reflections of an intelligent, humane and learned scholar who has many important things to say to policy makers in a world that is dangerous and sadly in need of tempering voices.”
            -Robert Swan, Washington Independent Review of Books
 
“A revelatory work: full of terrific analysis, and, a word I hesitate to use, wisdom. So many illuminations about so many murky matters. Really wonderful.”
            -C.K. Williams, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
 
“In this impassioned and thought-provoking journey through the varied landscape of political evil, Alan Wolfe draws subtle and often heartbreaking distinctions examining what can—and cannot—be done to combat the most vile organized horrors that human beings have always inflicted upon one another. This is a necessary but disturbing book, because it is all about the heart of darkness that is so much more comfortable to ignore—and our own limitations even when we try to do the right thing.”
-Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason
 
“In the face of mass violence, terrorism, and genocide around the globe, democratic citizens risk inaction and also excessive reaction. Are there alternatives to letting evil continue and producing more violence and inevitable victimization of innocents? Alan Wolfe's clear-eyed analysis offers vital tools to advance effective responses. He calls for joining unblinking condemnation of large-scale horrors with precise attention to their particular roots. His warnings against sweeping generalizations and faulty analogies to the past are grounded in detailed studies of mass violence in Darfur, the US ‘war against terror,’ and other current events. For serious alternatives to overreaction and inaction in the face of political evil, read Alan Wolfe.”
            -Martha Minow, author of Between Vengeance and Forgiveness
 
“Despite the persistence of evil, Wolfe is hopeful that we can stop evil acts, and despite his clear appeal to reason, his arguments are quite passionate.”
            -Booklist
 
“A balanced inquiry into the violent world confronting America today.”
            -Publishers Weekly
 
 

About the Author

Alan Wolfe teaches political science at Boston College, where he is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. A contributing editor of The New Republic whose work appears frequently in leading magazines and newspapers, he is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including The Future of Liberalism. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Farrell on October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his learned new book Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It (2011), Alan Wolfe of Boston College examines and discusses political evil, concentrating political evil in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. If you have found yourself at times reflecting on political evil and American foreign policy, and perhaps reflecting on American foreign policy as political evil, you may find Wolfe's detailed discussion of political evil thought provoking, regardless of whether you should happen to agree or to disagree with certain points he makes. In short, if you're looking for a thought-provoking book to read about political evil, you will almost certainly not be disappointed by Wolfe's book. Regardless of how individual readers, including me, may respond to particular points he makes, Wolfe has done the country an enormous service by examining and discussing the various forms of political evil and the various ways of discussing political evil that he examines and discusses. As a result, his book deserves to be widely read and discussed.

If Wolfe's book were widely read and discussed as it deserves to be, the discussion could take our current political discussion to a new level by giving liberals news ways of thinking about and discussing political evil. If this desirable result were to happen, then liberals would be better equipped to fight the good fight against the Republican noise machine. In my estimate, the Republican noise machine has for decades out-scored, as it were, tongue-tied liberals.

In roughly the first half of the book, Wolfe discusses World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. He analyzes totalitarianism in detail, with special attention to Hannah Arendt's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Theodore F Peters on January 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Addressing the topic of political evil is relevant and important. The world's political evils are obvious: invasive wars, torture, and genocide. Wolfe aptly points these out. His solution is that we the public make ourselves realistically aware of evil. His word is "serious." Now, let's be honest: is seriousness the right weapon with which to combat evil? Of course not. The only counterbalance to evil is goodness. Wolfe fails even to make us aware of the structure of evil in public life when we are not yet at war or not yet committing torture and genocide. He fails to analyze the role of self-justification and scapegoating that flood the speeches of our political leaders. Such self-justification and scapegoating constantly keep the populace on the verge of committing political evil in the form of economic injustice, cultural prejudice, class discrimination, war, or even worse. In sum, political evil is almost as wide spread as the human race if one knows how to identify it. I recommend, like Wolfe, that we get serious, to be sure; but a little bit of goodness might also be of help.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Alan Wolfe has created an excellent text on how we as a society can think about and recognize "Political Evil". It is important to add to one's way of viewing our moral place in the world, and our responsibility in making it safe for our citizens and citizens of the world at large.
The most important concept outlined is a view of the nature of evil, especially the Manichaen view which is negative and unsolvable, and how it can affect political response.
History is a very important study, because it teaches us, or should, the errors of our past. Unfortunately too often it is the wrong lessons we learn, many of which are elaborated on in this book.
At this time in our history almost half if not more of our population doesn't know the structure of our Republic, much less who our Allies were in the second World War, but rally around phrases like 'Munich' and 'Appeasement', ' World wide War on Terror', 'American Exceptionalism', 'Evil Empire', and the easiest most simplistic jingoism of the neoCons.
To create a society that doesn't support meaningless aggression, commit our children to unwinnable war's, and fail to see the horrors committed against helpless civilians throughout the world we have to acknowledge our shadow side, be able to reject over simplistic solutions, beliefs that a group is irredeemably evil and must be eradicated, and find a balance in our Foreign Policies. This treatise goes a long step in moving the reader in that direction.
Our first step could begin at home: teaching our children to recognize propaganda, media manipulation, respect for others, moral courage to speak truth to power, to recognize that they have a shadow side which can be controlled and its energy brought toward a creative use.
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By Lionel Riviere on September 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book came in excellent condition. I have begun to read it and find it very interesting.
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