• War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

  • By: Chris Hedges
  • Narrated by: Chris Hedges
  • Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (345 ratings)

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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.

©2007 Chris Hedges (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

21 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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Stellar work, as usual.

Chris Hedges is perhaps one of the most Insightful writers and thinkers of our time, if only because of his ability to see every side of conflict. Being raised in a very Christian household, and going onto Seminary, then into journalism where he spent decades on the outside of the American empire, looking back in on it from conflict zones, has given Chris a perspective that most of us will never have. A perfect specimen of someone steeped in the arts, but bathed in the reality of living in war zones provides the perfect combination from which someone could write this fantastic book, in which the case is made that war, used as a tool by governments to win its people back, also becomes a full addiction to those who are party to it. It couldn't get much better, except that Chris narrates the book himself, and we can fully feel his emotion where it is deemed necessary.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful

Hedges reading his own work is powerful. His descriptions of war's costs to both the individual and society obliterate the pro war propaganda that's so common in today's media. It's easy to see the origins of themes he expands on in Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class. Definitely a worthwhile read.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking

Hedges raises and shares views of war not normally articulated. The mixing of research and personal observations adds to the perspectives.

4 people found this helpful

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A man listing problems for 6 and a half hours

The easiest thing in the word is to list what’s wrong with the world and blame it on nebulous concepts like “the human condition”. Listing solutions is much harder.
For six and a half hours this man with lost things that are wrong with the world and tell stories of human suffering. When finally he gets around to what might be done about it the answer is love (a word he will repeat 50 times a minute for the last half hour of the book). It was infuriating to be explained to over and over again that killing people is a bad thing to do. We didn’t need that in a book. We all know. Also he went to Harvard, a fact he will never let you forget as he mentions it every chance he gets.
The author is pretty good at reading aloud though so I’m not going to knock the performance. I Lima tell I’d recommend this only to people who don’t already know that killing people is wrong as this man will do nothing but drill that into your skill for 6 hours straight.

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A must read for any student of military history

someone told me about this book several years ago but I was just reminded of it while deployed and helping Afghan refugees. I knew it was time and I must say, I regret taking so long to finally hear this. this guy really knows what he's talking about

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You don’t her and that’s the main street media

Prolifik non-fiction amazing Chrisis still alive eye-opener and definitely a story to be listened too.

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an essential, important work

Should be required reading in every school, especially here in America. Just like "A People's History" imploded the myth of American exceptionalism, this book implodes the myth of war's nobility and righteousness. War is all-consuming and brutal, leaving physical and emotional ruin in its wake. Hedges brings this knowledge to bear through his own long struggle with war's potent addictive highs.

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Jumbled Accounts of War

The author describes his experience while covering different wars as a journalist. It's just a list of accounts from his perspective and the types of things he saw during war as well as stories of what others saw. The accounts are not intertwined and don't follow any logical story or sequence, they are just accounts of situations. Besides that: war is bad, we do horrible things during war, we lose our humanity/compassion during war, we learn to hate during war or love depending on who helps us, and we are left broken after war. There isn't much scientific or objective analysis of war, how or why it comes about, or why we, as humans, accept it.