Dense Yet Enlightening. This is a book about the history of the philosophical and legal thoughts and justifications for transitioning from the brutal and bloody wars of the 19th century (when the history it covers begins) through to the “more humane” but now seemingly endless wars as currently waged, particularly by the United States of America. As in, this treatise begins with examinations of Tolstoy and Von Clauswitz during the Napoleonic Wars and ends with the Biden Presidency’s early days of the continuation of the drone wars of its two predecessors. Along the way, we find the imperfections and even outright hypocrisies of a world – and, in the 21st century in particular, in particular a singular nation on the ascendancy, the United States – as it struggles with how best to wage and, hopefully, end war. Moyn shows the transition from a mindset of peace to a mindset of more palatable (re: “less” horrific / “more” humane) perma-war. But as to the description’s final point that this book argues that this might not be a good thing at all… yes, that point is raised, and even, at times, central. But the text here seems to get more in depth on the history of documenting the change rather than focusing in on the philosophical and even legal arguments as to why that particular change is an overall bad thing. Ultimately this is one of those esoteric tomes that those with a particular interest in wars and how and why they are waged might read, if they are “wonks” in this area, but probably won’t have the mass appeal that it arguably warrants. The central premise is a conversation that *needs* to be had in America and the world, but this book is more designed for the think tank/ academic crowd than the mass appeal that could spark such conversations. Still, it is truly well documented and written with a high degree of detail, and for this it is very much recommended.
Note: In light of the events unfolding this weekend following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’m moving this post’s publication up by a couple of days and giving it that much longer at the top of the site and my socials. Yes, this is *that* important. Particularly now. -Jeff, 9/20/20
I’ve read some *extremely* disturbing books. Books with some of the most graphic, horrific acts any human can possibly imagine. Some of them have even been nonfiction.
And y’all, the scenarios French lays out at roughly the halfway mark – one from the left, one from the right – of how America as we know it could dissolve nearly instantaneously are at least as horrific as any of them. This is the clarion call that will hopefully snap people awake and get them to realize just how perilous the path we are on truly is. Particularly since these scenarios are truly so real that in theory either one of them could happen between when I write these words on July 4th, 2020 and when they publish – along with the book – on September 22, 2020.
He spends the front half of the book building to this point by showing, in crystal clarity, the stark realities of exactly where we have been and exactly where we are now. His analysis of history and current events seems solid to my mind, and it is only once he is finished showing exactly where we are – at least through the end of 2019 – that he unleashes his horrific master strokes.
French then spends the back third of the book in “this could happen – but it doesn’t have to” mode. Here, he expounds on really two primary points – which I’ll not spoil here – that would require a commitment from us all to actively work towards, but which could ultimately walk us back from the brink we currently find ourselves at. Neither of his points are nearly as readily achievable as the disaster scenarios, but both – particularly when working together – present arguably one of the best defenses against the disaster scenarios I’ve come across of late, and indeed actually play into my own “stop the pendulum” philosophy of the last decade.
Ultimately, if you are an American reading this, you need to stop reading this review and go read this book already!
As always, the Goodreads/ Bookbub review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Divided We Fall by David French”
Slightly Misleading Title, Solid History. If you’re looking for a history of the actual Doolittle Raid… this isn’t it. Instead, this focuses on the 1946 war crimes trial of the Japanese officials implicated in murdering four of the Raiders after their capture in China following the raid in 1942 and subsequent conviction in a kangaroo court. But for what it is, this is truly a remarkable story that brings to life a part of history I personally had never so much as heard about. Paradis notes in the afterword that upon researching what was originally supposed to be a more straightforward legal analysis, he realized that he needed to change the focus to be a historical narrative fit for a wider audience, and in that new goal this reader can confirm that he did particularly well. Yes, Paradis is a miliary lawyer historian by trade, and this particular background comes through quite blatantly in the text, but it is never so full of jargon from any of those parts of his background as to be incomprehensible to the wider audience only cursorily aware of those subjects. Very much recommended.
Fucking Ethics and Fucking Judgments. First, I will tell you that if the word “fucking” disturbs you, this book isn’t for you (but you may have suspected that from the title). If the various “raunchy” and “vulgar” words for human genitalia disturb you, this book isn’t for you.
But if you’re still reading this review, then I assume you’re at least ok with these words. In which case, allow me to tell you how sublime and thought provoking this book is. Part memoir and part academic philosophical treatise, this book truly takes a hard and intriguing look at the philosophical ethics of human sexuality.
This isn’t a light read. It isn’t a beach read (unless maybe you’re at a nudist/ swinger beach?). It is likely a read that will make you horny without actually being erotica. It is a read that will make you think. And maybe, just maybe, it is a read that will open you to the author’s own brand of sexual ethics, even though it is one she does not explicitly recommend – quite the opposite – herself.