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Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It Paperback – September 4, 2012
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“Intelligent and often brave . . . Audacious . . . Important . . . Whatever you label Wolfe’s argument in Political Evil, it is timely, valuable and refreshingly adult.” —Jonathan Rauch, The New York Times Book Review
“In Political Evil, Alan Wolfe issues a compelling summons to moral and intellectual seriousness and conducts a multi-pronged and . . . soberly argued inquiry into the contemporary forms of political evil and the proper means for combating them.” —Peter Berkowitz, The Wall Street Journal
“[Wolfe’s] sentiments . . . seem both admirable and true.” —Michael Ignatieff, Slate
“Ambitious and important.” —Charles R. Morris, Commonweal
“This book has many virtues. Wolfe has done us a service in reminding us that human beings should be sensitive to their own fallibility, and to the dangers of a hubristic mustering of overwhelming force . . . Political Evil represents the reflections of an intelligent, humane and learned scholar who has many important things to say to policy makers in a world that is dangerous and sadly in need of tempering voices.” —Robert Swan, Washington Independent Review of Books
“A revelatory work: full of terrific analysis, and, a word I hesitate to use, wisdom. So many illuminations about so many murky matters. Really wonderful.” —C.K. Williams, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
“In this impassioned and thought-provoking journey through the varied landscape of political evil, Alan Wolfe draws subtle and often heartbreaking distinctions examining what can—and cannot—be done to combat the most vile organized horrors that human beings have always inflicted upon one another. This is a necessary but disturbing book, because it is all about the heart of darkness that is so much more comfortable to ignore—and our own limitations even when we try to do the right thing.” —Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason
“In the face of mass violence, terrorism, and genocide around the globe, democratic citizens risk inaction and also excessive reaction. Are there alternatives to letting evil continue and producing more violence and inevitable victimization of innocents? Alan Wolfe's clear-eyed analysis offers vital tools to advance effective responses. He calls for joining unblinking condemnation of large-scale horrors with precise attention to their particular roots. His warnings against sweeping generalizations and faulty analogies to the past are grounded in detailed studies of mass violence in Darfur, the US ‘war against terror,’ and other current events. For serious alternatives to overreaction and inaction in the face of political evil, read Alan Wolfe.” —Martha Minow, author of Between Vengeance and Forgiveness
“Despite the persistence of evil, Wolfe is hopeful that we can stop evil acts, and despite his clear appeal to reason, his arguments are quite passionate.” —Booklist
“A balanced inquiry into the violent world confronting America today.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
If Wolfe's book were widely read and discussed as it deserves to be, the discussion could take our current political discussion to a new level by giving liberals news ways of thinking about and discussing political evil. If this desirable result were to happen, then liberals would be better equipped to fight the good fight against the Republican noise machine. In my estimate, the Republican noise machine has for decades out-scored, as it were, tongue-tied liberals.
In roughly the first half of the book, Wolfe discusses World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. He analyzes totalitarianism in detail, with special attention to Hannah Arendt's work.Read more ›
The most important concept outlined is a view of the nature of evil, especially the Manichaen view which is negative and unsolvable, and how it can affect political response.
History is a very important study, because it teaches us, or should, the errors of our past. Unfortunately too often it is the wrong lessons we learn, many of which are elaborated on in this book.
At this time in our history almost half if not more of our population doesn't know the structure of our Republic, much less who our Allies were in the second World War, but rally around phrases like 'Munich' and 'Appeasement', ' World wide War on Terror', 'American Exceptionalism', 'Evil Empire', and the easiest most simplistic jingoism of the neoCons.
To create a society that doesn't support meaningless aggression, commit our children to unwinnable war's, and fail to see the horrors committed against helpless civilians throughout the world we have to acknowledge our shadow side, be able to reject over simplistic solutions, beliefs that a group is irredeemably evil and must be eradicated, and find a balance in our Foreign Policies. This treatise goes a long step in moving the reader in that direction.
Our first step could begin at home: teaching our children to recognize propaganda, media manipulation, respect for others, moral courage to speak truth to power, to recognize that they have a shadow side which can be controlled and its energy brought toward a creative use.Read more ›