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The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace [Hardcover]

John Paul Lederach
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 20, 2005 0195174542 978-0195174540 Fifth or Later Edition
John Paul Lederach's work in the field of conciliation and mediation is internationally recognized. As founding Director of the Conflict Transformation Program and Institute of Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, he has provided consultation and direct mediation in a range of situations from the Miskito/Sandinista conflict in Nicaragua to Somalia, Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, and the Philippines. His influential 1997 book Building Peace has become a classic in the discipline. This new book represents his thinking and learning over the past several years. He explores the evolution of his understanding of peacebuilding by reflecting on his own experiences in the field. Peacebuilding, in his view, is both a learned skill and an art. Finding this art, he says, requires a worldview shift. Conflict professionals must envision their work as a creative act - an exercise of what Lederach terms the "moral imagination."

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Editorial Reviews


"Today the telecommunications and transport revolution has made the world a smaller place offering both an opportunity and challenge to the major leading countries to come together to shape the world, overcome violence and create a peaceful global community. John Paul Lederach presents a powerful case for the use of the moral imagination in rising to this challenge, thus creating authentic new possibilities. This book provides a valuable contribution to peacebuilding literature and I welcome it wholeheartedly." --John Hume, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace

"This is a wonderful book it resonated, provoked and exhilarated me, challenging me to think very carefully and deeply about why peace builders do what they do. It also offers some profound compass points for direction which may help to keep many of us sane and focused in the midst of the chaos and violence that so often makes up our world." --Mari Fitzduff, Brandeis University

"The Moral Imagination is an eloquent and personal meditation on the challenge of peacebuilding by one of the fields most insightful theorists and practitioners. Professor Lederach correctly observes that the years following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, represent a precious opportunity to address underlying cycles of violence and insecurity, locally and globally. It will take courage and creativity, but it is an opportunity we must not let pass us by."--Jimmy Carter, Chairman, The Carter Center

"Much exists in the conflict resolution literature about method and technique, little about art and soul. John Paul Lederach, a theorist of great insight who also happens to be a practitioner of high skill, brings us deep into his own process of learning--and the results are marvelous. He offers us a rich fare of insights, stories and metaphors that captivate the moral imagination this world so badly needs. Consider this book a precious treat!" --William Ury, co-author of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In and author of The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop

"In its depth of wisdom regarding the dynamics of soul, spirit and society that lead good people to become effective practitioners of conflict transformation in war zones, The Moral Imagination could serve as the magnificent capstone to a life's work. The thrilling fact, however, is that Lederach stands not at the end but at the midpoint of a remarkable journey of conciliation, peacebuilding and ethical reflection. This book is a milestone in that journey; there is nothing quite like it in the literature of social change, peace and conflict studies, theology, ethics, and spirituality--for it weaves those disciplines together into a seamless, riveting whole."--R. Scott Appleby, Professor of History and John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

"In The Moral Imagination, John Paul Lederach has written an inspiring and uplifting book that goes straight to the heart of what is required to bring a change in a destructive cycle of violence, to alter an oppressive social relationship, or to understand the foundation of an intractable conflict. Lederach uses the tools of natural science, poetry, folk lore, and physics, as well the wisdom of people who have exhibited courage in the face of violence, to consider the essence of effective peacemaking. This is a book that will help deepen the thinking and the peacemaking practice of all who read it."--Bernard Mayer, author of Beyond Neutrality: Confronting the Crisis in Conflict Resolution

"Peacemaking is about imagining what seems impossible in the midst of conflict. It is about discerning and stretching the moment of opportunity. This is a superb book, offering theory born in practice and best practices grounded in critical theory. It raises problems and suggests solutions. The work of activists, scholars and practitioners in conflict transformation and peacemaking who read this book will be profoundly influenced by it."--Charles Villa-Vicencio, Executive Director, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town, South Africa

"Anyone who feels the call of peacemaking should read this book and reflect deeply." --The Mennonite Quarterly Review

About the Author

John Paul Lederach is one of the world's foremost experts on peacebuilding and reconciliation. He is Professor of International Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Distinguished Scholar at Eastern Mennonite University's Conflict Transformation Program. Among his many books are The Journey Toward Reconciliation (1999) and Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (1997).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Fifth or Later Edition edition (January 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195174542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195174540
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a metaphorically rich book about conflict resolution and preparing the essential infrastructure for dialogue. Anyone interested in resolving conflict at whatever level would benefit from the experiences Prof. Lederach shares.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives meaning to much I have observed as a mediator September 7, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"John Paul Lederach, a theorist of great insight who also happens to be a practitioner of high skill, brings us deep into his own process of learning . . . "
So said the well-known author William Ury

In The Moral Imagination I learned to look for the important web of relationships that lies hidden behind the violence of a conflict. Such webs contain spaces that may become starting places for reconciliation. Even before violence abates, in such spaces a peace-builder can get started.

A skilled and engaging storyteller, Mr. Lederach offers instances from his own experience to illustrate the theories he lays out. For example, he tells how mothers, wives, and daughters built peace in a formerly violent marketplace where all parties needed to shop for necessities.

In the arena of workplace reconciliation where I work, Mr. Lederach has helped me assign meaning to much I have observed but not always recognized as important.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent October 9, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am only half way through right now. But this book is really helping me to see the heart of conflict resolution and peace building.

I am naturally a very emotional person, but all during my undergrad I had to put on a very serious/fact finding hat to get through. Now during my graduate studies of Peace and Conflict Resolution I was having a hard time adjusting. Words like "love", "harmony", and "imagination" were really throwing me off.

I am reading this book for my class and it is really helping me to put my heart and imagination into what I am learning which is helping me to internalize what I am learning. After all, I believe that to want to resolve the conflict of others, you have to have a little love and imagination in your heart.

This book puts the heart back into peace building. It reminds us that it is ok to use your heart and intuition in your work. Everything is not always about technical methods and theories.

A hooked reader.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! July 22, 2009
By slb
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book, beautiful and thoughtful. One of the best books I have read this year. The concepts here have many applications beyond peacemaking. Hopeful and helpful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genius Book by a Brilliantand Creative Man May 6, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book boils conflict resolution down to The Moral Imagination, without simplifying the complex field. It brings art to a technical field.
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