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A Terrible Love of War Paperback – Bargain Price, February 22, 2005

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Why do we love war? asks Jungian psychoanalyst Hillman, author of the bestselling The Soul's Code. One might ask in reply, Do we, in fact, love war? Hillman answers unequivocally in the affirmative, skewering modern pretension to prefer the Prince of Peace to the god of war. Mars is the central character in Hillman's exploration of war as an archetypal impulse. "The whole bloody business," he writes, "reveals a god, therewith placing war among the authentic phenomena of religion. And that is why it is so terrible, so loved, and so hard to understand." His portrayal of war as an implacable force, a primary element of the human condition, is unsettling, as is his description of war as a "beautiful horror"â€"but he cites enough memoirs and letters written by those in the heat of battle to convince that it can have a kind of beauty for combatants. Hillman also effectively evokes the transcendent, Mars-like fury that overtakes soldiers in battle ("I felt like a god... I was untouchable," writes one). Throughout, Hillman offers other disturbing insights: readers may feel a shock of recognition when he compares our addiction to viewing war (whether real or cinematic) to the viewing of pornography, noting that we are all voyeurs. But Hillman's mesmerizing prose loses its impact when he launches a sneering attack on Christianity (and the U.S., where "we are all Christians") for being a warrior religion. And perhaps only Jungians will understand his baffling assertion that aesthetic passion (or, in archetypal terms, devotion to Venus) can slow our ceaseless rush to war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Important reading for our time, as we try to make sense of our terrors. (San Francisco Chronicle) [Hillman’s] portrayal of war as an implacable force, a primary element of the human condition, is unsettling. (Publishers Weekly)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (February 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034928
  • ASIN: B000H2NB7U
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,621,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Peter FYFE on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In "A Terrible Love of War", Hillman examines war in a manner analogous to a psychologist working to understand the pathological behaviour of a person in depth therapy. This approach takes us on a engaging and extremely challenging journey into the archetype of war. On the way we meet famous men of battle, we rediscover the Greek gods Ares and Aphrodite (Mars and Venus), we catch a transferential glimpse at Hillman the man in some autobiographical "confessions", and finally come face to face with the war monger within the sacrificial lamb of God. It's confronting because Hillman makes no attempt to "explain" war, but leads us instead to understand it and the dark role it plays in our psyches, individually and collectively. It's a book that will reward careful and considered reading. I'm sure you will revel in his rhetoric, see the myth in his madness, and most of all, admire Hillman's unique approach to this most challenging subject, as I have.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA on June 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Archetypal psychology has lacked an exploration of war and its deeper dimensions. This clearly written book not only fills the breach, it invites the reader to look into the heart of war: into the destruction, the religious fascination, and even the love that permeate warfare. Topics under discussion include the media role in aggression; accounts spoken and written by soldiers under fire; the mythic structures behind the American fascination with guns; and what psychology and philosophy have had to say about one of the oldest human pastimes--all in sparkling prose and flavored with anecdotes and examples.
To Christian readers I would recommend considering Hillman's view that Christianity has been martial from the start as a challenge to examine the relationship between the Christian emphasis on love and innocence and its long institutional history of intolerance and brutality. Is warfare endemic to Christianity? Are Christians who reject warfare exceptions to an almost universal aggressiveness? Must Christianity be a religion of missionaries who think they know better than the peoples they seek to convert? These are some of the questions raised by Hillman's study.
Hillman also brings new emphasis to a heavily underrated factor in American aggression: hypocrisy. How is it that we select as leaders (and do adults really need leaders to begin with? Indigenous cultures got on fine with wise elders and mentors) the most insincere and immature among us? Why is it (as Aaron Kipnis puts it) an old boy's club instead of a gathering of wise old men? What does it do to us, these deceptive speeches and these Orwellian justifications (war for peace; "democracy" from the top down; "pre-emptions" that precede nothing but endless cycles of violence)?
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Harris F. Dodd on June 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reads like drama. Just the time it takes to turn the page produced an anxiety reaction as I was so eager to keep reading.

A extremely well written cogent main thread is inter-populated with short "just in the right spot" and "just the right length" diversions. I especially enjoyed the diverson about Japan(1543-1879)and guns. A very nice presentation model.

Hillman presents war as an archetypal suprahuman truth he calls Mars or Ares. The book really gives no hope for the eradication of war as Hillman states towards the end:

"But war itself shall remain until the gods themselves go away."

As a vet, I also recommend this book for any veterans who otherwise might not be interested in psychology and mythology or give a hoot about archetypes.

uniquely fascinating!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By another reader on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hillman shows formidable scholarship as he takes the reader through a tour of western civilization in terms of man's propensity for aggression against his own species. Hillman is especially good in using classical texts to develop his thesis. This book will not persuade those who dogmatically insist that man is essentially a loving creature, but it will prove to many readers that violence is as much a part of human nature as kindness. War is mankind's ineluctable destiny.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. J MOSS on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If only James Hillman could reach the audience Michael Moore commands.'A Terrible Love of War' is tanamount to a redressing of Moore's '9/11', uncovering the complexities which Moore's Telly tough guy stance avoids. As Hillman notes, parroting McLuhan - the medium is the message - and in typical concise yet elegant fashion implies that Moore's quick guerilla grabs, snappy editing, and sniper's asides are of the same cast, if not having the diabolics, of his heinious targets. While always delivering elegant prose, Hillman has not always been so concise. Erudition sometimes flashily displayed, occasionally fudged the point he groped for. Still, the groping was exhilerating, and perhaps, as he indicates in one of many candid asides, it was the point. With,'Soul's Code','Force of Character' and this work (his avowed final gift), Hillman has hit late career full bloom, the erudition honed unlike any issuing from the USA. What is the deep, violent stain which we project onto others, refusing to own? Hillman cites 'the hypocrisy in the depths of Christianity(that) keeps its believers ignorant of the wrath of the Lamb in which they place their trust. Only a contrite awakening to Christianity's hypocrisy in regard to peace and war could release a new dispensation, a new reformation to rid monotheistic religion of its roots in war and the roots of war in monotheistic religion.' It's with desapair and exasperation that Hillman sounds his Reveille amidst our sloth, diffidence and resignation. Readers awake to the heat of the Blue Flame!
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