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The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience Paperback – October 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805055193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805055191
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #687,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By hugh riminton on March 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
At the moment there are many books being published examining the successes and failures of the humanitarian interventions that have followed the end of the Cold War - more failures than successes, truth be told. As part of my job, I read as many of them as I can. It is this book, however, that I constantly return to. My copy is dog-eared, and deeply scored with underlinings. In every paragraph, Ignatieff has something worthwhile - and frequently confronting - to say.
He addresses the role of the media and the triangle of relationships between audience/media/political leaders; he looks at the rise in humanitarian organisations and the peculiarities of the ethics under which they work; he brings insights from the field on the way the UN is so often programmed to fail.
The power of Ignatieff's writing stems from his unique capacity to bring together the perspectives of news correspondent, novelist and philosopher. He is direct and extremely readable, while also knifing into the subtle heart of the "New World Order."
In the chapter entitled "The Narcissism of Minor Difference" he comes as close anything I have read to explaining why ordinary people are moved sometimes to conduct atrocities on their neighbours. It is vivid and convincing.
If you feel exasperated by the hideous mysteries of ethnic and sectarian conflict, I urge you to read this book, if for that chapter alone.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Cole on September 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
The streets in downtown Montreal were filled with people - hundreds of them, shouting, waving banners and wearing the ubiquitous "target" emblem on their shirts. They had gathered to demonstrate against the NATO intervention in Kosovo, which had been launched by the Western alliance to end the ongoing cleansing of ethnic Albanians in the region. That particular day had a strange feel to it, not unlike the first day the US-led Coalition began bombing downtown Baghdad in 1991. In a way it felt as if war had somehow found its way, through a crack in space, maybe, into the otherwise peaceful metropolis. On that day, on the recommendation of a friend (thanks Robert), I purchased Ignatieff's The Warrior's Honor. However, I did not read it until very recently, as it had gotten lost (or drowned, rather) among the tons of other "must read" books (their reproductive rate is admittedly very high) that inhabit my bookshelves.
Now that I have read it, however, I understand why it so often gets quoted by other authors; despite its relatively short length, it is literally one of the very best books on the issue of ethnic-based conflict. Ignatieff's writing is extremely quotable, and on numerous occasions I found myself highlighting passages which so aptly drove to the heart of what other authors require whole chapters to evoke. Rich in sources - both literary and philosophical - it is, unquestionably, a master's exercise in conciseness and analysis.
The chapters "The Narcissism of Minor Difference" and "The Seductiveness of Moral Disgust" are especially enlightening, and I know I will be revisiting them frequently.
This book, along with Jonathan Glover's Humanity, should be read by anyone who hopes to cast a ray of light, however feeble, into the shadowy realms of man's inhumanity to man.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book through a class I took and I was impressed by the deep analysis on the issues of ethnic war including a focus of television and media, charitable empathy, the need for conflict, and a warrior's honor. Ignatieff differentiates ethnic wars happening now (civil wars, ethnic wars, brother vs. brother) than that of wars the US has waged in the past (vs. country/nation). These new types of war show a new dynamic of intervention and war atrocities relating to it. The common thread Ignatieff points out is relating to a warrior's honor. Much like chivalry, a soldier in battle should follow certain rules of conduct like not committing atrocities against the indigenous population or letting interventionists take care of the wounded. Ignatieff also focuses on many ethnic conflicts of today in Rwanda, Somalia, and Serbia as examples of the dimension of ethnic war. Ignatieff uses loaded terminology and might be too much to comprehend, but his examples help the reader understand the context he is pushing for. Further examples from Freud's "Narcissism of Minor Diffence" and James Joyce gives this book a well-rounded academic feel. This book gives great insight to human need during ethnic war especially with the current conflict in Kosovo.
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