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Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations Paperback – 7 Jul 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Rev Ed edition (7 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465037070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465037070
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A magnificent book, an honor to its writer... a book that makes for a return of civilised discussion of the question of the morality of war." New York Review of Books "A passionate defense of the old principle of non-combatant immunity... (He) is both thorough and persuasive in his exploration of a very intricate subject." Washington Post"

About the Author

Michael Walzer is Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, and the author of many widely heralded books, including Spheres of Justice, Exodus and Revolution, and The Company of Critics, all available from Basic Books. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first sight, I did not like Walzers book. I found his frequent citations of novels, essays etc. unnecessarily pompous and somewhat annoying. However, Walzers book is actually by no means inaccessible to the casual reader, and his analysis is in general clear and properly thought out.

Walzer considers many aspects of the ethics of war. Most of the book is concerned with the question of when and how wars may be just, although considerable time is also given to the question of how a war - just or unjust - may be fought justly. Among Walzers historical examples are the Franco-Prussian war, The six-day war, the Vietnam war, the Korean war and World war II. His themes range widely, including when agression in the face of anticipation is justified, when interventions in already existing wars are justified, whether humanitarian interventions are justified, to name a few. Walzer also considers the rather interesting cases of guerilla war and terrorism, and gives a good deal of attention to the question of justifying civilian casualties.

Walzers book is not meant to be, and cannot in any sense be considered, the final word on the ethics of war. Several of Walzers arguments may be applied to other of his historical cases to obtain different conclusions - one prominent example is the bombing of German cities during the second world war, which seems rather similar to terrorism.

What can be said definitively, however, is that Walzers book is generally well-written and well-argued, provides ample food for thought and clearly illustrates many of the dilemmas of war which are sensed by most people by casual inspection, but which may be difficult to elucidate without considerable thought.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Just and Unjust Wars' is one of Walzer's greatest achievements. His summary of a standard model of ethics in warfare has served as a basis for many subsequent philosophical works. His use of historical illustrations make this book easy to read and highly influential. This is a classic text for everyone with an interest in political philosophy.
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This book is informative and relevant to the modern world we live in, its chapters on military intervention and civil wars have been updated and are more than relevant to the current world situation, well worth a read even by the casual reader.
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Excellent book and very accessible, unlike some other philosophical works. I particularly like the writing style with its use of interesting examples and wide literary sources including poetry and classical literature. So many other books only reference other philosophy books.
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Format: Paperback
Interesting book, but although the examples mentioned do nicely buttress 20'th Century 'morality'; they are overwhelmingly drawn from recent times. This means the liberalistic attitudes contained are wildly at variance with normal historical precedent, and more importantly; don't include any period of meaningful historic change. Two far more relevant examples are shown below:-

1. On New Year's Eve 406AD, in the depths of an unusually bitter winter several German tribes, driven by starvation; followed a Vandal warband across the frozen Rhein River into the Roman Empire; which they then looted for food, clothing, etc.... for several years. This action ultimately led to the destruction of the Western Roman Empire and the foundation of modern Europe, as it revealed to the Germanic peoples both their own power and Rome's weakness. From the opinions expressed within this publication it would appear these worldchanging events should be judged 'unjust'; and the Germanic warriors should simply have been told to stay home and watch their families freeze/starve?

2. Made invincible by the words of the Prophet they revered; between the years 622AD and 750AD, Islamic armies conquered first the Arabian Peninsula; then attacked and took Egypt, Syria, North Africa, Armenia, Constantinople, Sicily and Southern Italy from the Byzantine Romans; the Iberian Peninsula from the Visigoths; Iraq, Persia, Afganistan and the Indus Valley from the Sassanid Persian Empire; fought their way up into France, and even took a large slice of central Asia from the Chinese. The result of this 'Holy War' was the utter destruction of the previous cultures, along with possibly millions of their predominently Christian inhabitants; and creation of the Islamic World we see today.
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