Clearly, War Is A Lie is an ambitious effort, organized around ideas rather than chronology, taking in, albeit briefly, most of the wars we talk about, from Iraq and Afghanistan to the two World Wars, back to the Civil War and even to antiquity. It is full of eye-opening facts that cast doubt on the school textbook version of events, and “wow” moments where we are made to question our deepest assumptions. David Swanson whets my appetite for a much more discerning look at particular wars I thought I knew much about, and more importantly, about war itself. He is particularly effective in demonstrating the cynicism and duplicity of leaders who tell us that war is for one purpose, while knowing full well that it is for another.
Swanson’s passion for the topic, his compassion for all peoples, his fresh thinking and his commitment to questioning conventional attitudes toward war and exposing popular myths and fallacies are what stand out. He presents many significant pieces of history that are not widely known and effectively assumes the mantle of moral guide. Swanson makes a compelling case for our re-examining our own knowledge about why we make war, and underlines the deception and folly that is almost always at the core of such violent adventures. Compared to traditional histories and analyses, and even with its drawbacks, I consider War Is A Lie an important work and one worthy of our attention. I’m glad to moderate this conversation.