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The Seduction of War

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

For two decades, on four continents, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times war correspondent and author Chris Hedges witnessed firsthand the death and devastation of armed conflict. In January he came to campus and read from his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and answered questions from the college and local community.

Hedges’ immersion in this morbid world of violence and destruction enabled him to write this book analyzing the origins of modern military conflicts and the human race’s affinity for war.

To a full audience in Emerson Suites he illustrated the stark dichotomy that is warfare and the almost sensual allure it can hold. Hedges equates battle to a highly addictive drug that not only intoxicates the soldiers on the front lines but entire societies as well. According to Hedges, the adrenalin-pumping fear experienced during prolonged military engagement, combined with propaganda-fed nationalistic bravado, can separate people from their intrinsic humanitarian inclinations: “The communal march against an enemy generates a warm, unfamiliar bond with our neighbors, our community, our nation—wiping out unsettling undercurrents of alienation and dislocation.”

Hedges, who survived imprisonment in Sudan and beatings by the Saudi military police, served in the 1980s as the Central American bureau chief and then later as the Middle East bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News. In the 1990s he was the New York Times bureau chief in the Middle East and later the Balkans. In 2002 he was a member of the Times team that won a Pulitzer for coverage of global terrorism. That year he also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism for an article published in Harper’s. His new book, on the extremist religious right in the United States, will be released in September. 

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