Library of Social Science seeks an author to write a review essay on This Republic of Suffering. To read an excerpt, please click here. A review appears in the New York Times.
The parameters for writing an LSS review essay are directly below. Please send an abstract of approximately 200 words to email@example.com, telling us how you will approach writing your essay.
When I presented my plenary talk at the Colloquium on Violence and Religion on June 4, 1999 (with Rene Girard sitting in the front row), the concept of “sacrifice” was barely on the radar. It seemed that John Lennon’s dream of “nothing to kill or die for” was coming true. I myself felt I was providing a “wrap up:” explaining the sources and meanings of the massive political violence that had characterized the Twentieth Century.
It seemed, however, that the end of history was not to be. September 11, 2001 reminded us that some human beings still believed in and were willing to die for an idea. George Bush’s rejoinder was that Americans too possessed sacred ideals for which we were willing to sacrifice our lives.
Since 9/11—and particularly in the last four years—books have regularly appeared on the sacrificial meaning of political violence. The idea that war, genocide and terrorism reflect a sacrificial dynamic has been a central theme of the Library of Social Science Newsletter, as well as of our Ideologies of War website.
Drew Gilpin Faust states that the “work of death was the Civil War America’s most fundamental and demanding undertaking.” In the soldier’s emotional and moral universe, dying “assumed clear preeminence over killing.” The Civil war produced destruction, suffering and death that seemed meaningless. However, the war also “created the modern American union,” not just by shaping enduring national survival, but by putting in place “enduring national structures and commitments.”
Paul Kahn argues (in Sacred Violence, 2008) that the “sacrifice of the self is the creative act of destruction that is the realization of the presence of the sacred.” A nation with neglible external enemies created in the Civil War a “frenzy of killing and being killed.” This violence, Kahn says, may be understood as the practice of sacrifice for the sake of “maintaining the material reality of a transcendent idea.” In the Civil War, Americans died in order to preserve their “sacred union”—and to validate the idea that all men are created equal.
Library of Social Science Book Reviews is recognized as the premier website publishing substantial, thoughtful review essays of scholarly books. Please read our Mission Statement, and a sample Review Essay. For details on writing a review essay for Library of Social Science, please click here or see directly below.
Please an abstract of approximately 200 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, telling us how you will approach writing your essay. We look forward to hearing from you.
Parameters of a Library of Social Science Book Review Essay
- Essays will be written in the spirit of the LSS Mission Statement that appears here.
- Essays should be approximately 3,000 words in length (for a sample essay, click here).
- Essays are to be completed no later than three months after receipt of the book.
- Beginning with the text, reviewers may focus on important issues in order to present and develop their own views and theories on the topics treated.
- Reviews will be edited by the staff of Library of Social Science.
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- With each review, LSS will promote a book authored by the reviewer (and/or will publicize an author event).
LSS reserves the right to decline publication of any review.