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War, Evil, and the End of History Paperback – March 31, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of France's most celebrated intellectuals and author of the French bestseller Who Killed Daniel Pearl? reports on five currently forgotten or marginalized war zones-Angola, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Colombia and the Sudan-and elaborates his eyewitness accounts with philosophizing about genocide, terrorism and the nature of history. The first part is philosophical travelogue, richly descriptive and highly visual in style. A lyrical yet disciplined commentator, Lévy teases out the underlying logic and cultural specificity of each site of devastation. Human encounters, such as a meeting with a young female Tamil would-be suicide bomber on the run or an interview with a jittery Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader in Colombia, are full of intelligent observation. The two million dead of Sudan haunt the ghost towns Lévy describes, and he never spares us details of atrocities. Burundi, a scene of total desolation, comes to represent his degree zero of despair. In the book's second part, the author mingles his intellectual autobiography (early Maoist activism, his first war reporting in Bangladesh) with essays on Hegelian definitions of history, the philosophy of ruins, war nostalgia, dehumanization, the laws of war and self-reflexive musings on the role of journalism. In these stylishly fragmented discussions he draws on readings in Nietzsche, Sartre, Bataille, Benjamin, Levinas and Foucault as well as on fiction and film. Mandell's translation preserves a singularly French style of lofty questioning that some readers may find slightly dizzying, even while they glean much from his erudite contemplation of the developing world's most tragic regions.
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Review

""Bernard-Henri Levy is accorded the kind of adulation in France that most countries reserve for their rock stars."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; First Edition edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971865957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971865952
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,758,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
War, Evil, and the End of History
Recently finished Bernard-Henri Levy's latest book, War, Evil, and the End of History. There's so much in it, on a variety of different levels, it is difficult to capture in a paragraph. Bottom line: The book is a response to a number of philosophical arguments, ranging from Foucault to Fukuyama. Levy takes his personal transformation, comparing himself to, and distinguishing himsef from, Benny Levy in the Bangladesh civil war and May 68 events in Paris, as well as personal confessions from BHL travelling to hot spots today, such as Sri Lanka, to make a number of points:
*No single philosophical or political system can cope with the problems of war and evil, they are permanent features of human existence which must be confronted constantly.
*History does not "end." And the smaller and more remote regions are even more affected by it than the central powers.
*Islam is not the only movement that spawns terrorists and suicide bombers. There are fanatics and mass murderers wherever one looks for them, from Burundi, to Sri Lanka, to Rwanda, to Sudan--and his chapter on Sudan, written years ago, is particularly relevant today.
The style is intensely personal and stream of consciousness. But combining journalism with philosophy is pretty interesting reading--BHL's references to Malraux seem appropriate.
War, Evil, and the End of History combines theoretical reflection with striking descriptions of some forgotten messy realities. It is a good reminder that there are lots of loose ends out there, that politics is not the answer to everything, that academic writing removed from the facts of life has some shortcomings.
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Edit of 20 Dec 07 to connect to more recent books.

There are some gems in this book, but it is *not* anywhere near the kind of blindingly brilliant, deeply philosophical work that the publicists would have you believe. He is a talented and very wealthy (inherited wealth) Frenchman of the Jewish faith who could be called the Bill Gates of French philosophy, fwith irst-rate marketing.

The author is clearly a courageous and inquisitive individual, and I would rank him third, after Robert Young Pelton and Robert Kaplan, in the "journalist-philosopher-adventurer" category. He has been to all of these places, he has seen with his own eyes, and he writes thoughtfully, if often tediously, about what he has seen.

The real gem in the book is the connection he makes between 9-11 and our deliberate ignorance of the many wars, genocides, crimes against women and children, torture, corruption, etcetera that we in the West have manifested. He writes with conviction and insight about the "meaningless war" across Africa, South Asia, around the globe, where entire regions have descended into a chaotic hell of kill and be killed, work and die, slavery or death, rape then death. His point, which I like very much, is that history does not end, it recycles, and in 9-11 and the global war on terrorism what we have is a "homecoming" of all these wars to America and its Western allies.
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By Julian on February 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
After seeing the author on TV I was intrigued enough to buy all three of his books -- sadly, his newest, American Vertigo, was terrible. It seemed all the more so, however, in comparison with his other two books, which were both wonderful. Who Killed Daniel Pearl was a real thriller and very smart, but this book, War, Evil, and the End of History, was absolutely brilliant. It seems to be almost a model for American vertigo - reporting, followed by philosophical consideration of the reporting. But this book is about people and places that really matter -- Darfur, Sri Lanka, etc., not Sharon Stone and Warren Beatty. It is brave work -- Levy went to some very dangerous places -- and his writing about those places is stirring and beautiful. Thought provoking and like a trip to a totally different world and way of thinking; it made me see the world differently. Skip the new ones, read the old ones, especially this one.
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Format: Hardcover
L'auteur narre ses aventures sur le terrain des conflits mondiaux. Il souffre du mal qu'il constate et des nombreuses injustices criantes, de la même façon que le téléspectateur devant le journal télévisé du 20h00 s'écrie: "que la guerre est moche!".

Ce qui surprend, c'est la teinte "philosophique" qui colore le reportage, non pas qu'il soit hors de propos de vouloir réfléchir sur le mal, entre la soupe et le fromage, mais parce que la réflexion de l'auteur est uni-dimensionnelle. Hegel est à l'honneur dans ce livre ainsi que son disciple Kojève. L'auteur semble donner l'impression qu'en dehors de ces deux référents, malgré les limites qu'il pressent parfois, rien ne saurait être pensé.

Si le livre était un film, il aurait rang de navet recuit. A éviter.
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