War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Chris Hedges

Veteran correspondent Chris Hedges (New York Times) built his career covering wars in Latin America, the Middle East and the Balkans. He writes about war from the perspective of a reporter who has tasted both its sweet intoxication, or elevation of life’s purpose, and its base purpose of death. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction, this short but powerful book is driven by Hedges’ eloquent and hard-nosed realism and his remembrances of wartime horrors as well as unbelievable acts of kindness. Facts are used that make one shudder, such as that, in all human history, there have been only 12 years when there wasn’t war raging somewhere in the world. Throughout, Hedges offers penetrating observations (“there are times when remaining human is the only victory”), while using classical literary inspiration from Homer to Shakespeare. As he displays here, war is not over for soldiers or civilians when the shooting stops—yet another reason why it should never be pursued solely for political gain.