War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

  • by Chris Hedges
  • Narrated by Chris Hedges
  • 6 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: "It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living." Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary.

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What the Critics Say

"A brilliant, thoughtful, timely, and unsettling book....Abounds with Hedges' harrowing and terribly moving eyewitness accounts...Powerful and informative." (The New York Times Book Review)
"The best kind of war journalism: It is bitterly poetic and ruthlessly philosophical. It sends out a powerful message to people contemplating the escalation of the 'war against terrorism'." (Los Angeles Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Powerful, perceptive, personal

I don't know who could better examine this subject than someone fascinated by, driven by, and drawn to, war. Chris Hedges has found ways to get himself into conflicts over the past 20 years, not as a detached, in-the-briefing-room journalist, but as someone at the scene, again and again and again. He describes the emotion of living in war, the emotion when war is over, why and how conflicts begin, the importance of words. He lives with and talks with participants, blending their words and his observations with the literature of war, ancient to modern. From history, philosophy, theater, he adds perspective with others' voices. We are fortunate for his experiences, drawn together with that of others in the conflicts to offer meaning to this subject. Those bound by slogans and preconceptions may have to loosen up to gain the book's intended value. But the book is personal in more than the living and writing, Hedges also does the narration. Very well done.
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- llr

Augments a reading of the book, too

I'm a huge Hedges fan but purchased the audio book to listen to it with my husband on a car vacation. First published in 2003, during the end of the Bush era, what it says holds up quite well, and as a faithful reader of Hedges at Truthdig, lays the foundation for much of what Hedges still writes.

Hearing it read by Hedges himself makes the words still more thoughtful.

This is a book that I go back to over and over. My husband works with veterans. I work with kids whose parents are deployed or have been deployed and I hear the _echoes_ of this book many times.

I think about Hedges' final message repetitively. If we are going to unleash the dogs of war, we should always be aware of what the _ongoing_ costs are. And Hedges uniquely lays out a discussion of what those costs are. Clearly, the wars we are prosecuting in the middle east are not "worth it", never were, and continue to not be worth it.

Worth a read and definitely worth a listen.
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- Janet M Hanson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-18-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio