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
--This text refers to the
From Library Journal
This collection of Ignatieff's previously published essays conveys through meticulous reporting the moral enigmas of current warfare. Each of the five essays poses a core dilemma: How has television's "promiscuous" gaze promoted both moral universalism and "generalized misanthropy"? How does Freud's idea of the "narcissism of minor difference" play itself out among the perpetrators of Bosnia's ethnic cleansing? Why does "moral disgust" in our reaction to Africa's killing fields deflect Western states from an effective response? The book's title comes from an essay about the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross to blunt the slaughter of Afghan innocents in appeals to "warrior's honor." Ignatieff (Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism, LJ 3/1/94) calls for the creation of a "saving distance" between myths of historical violence and the imperatives of present life. He is not optimistic, but serious readers will not flinch from these durable and troubling essays. Recommended for all academic and public libraries.?Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Erie, Pa.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.