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The Lesser Evil:
Political Ethics in an Age of Terror
Michael Ignatieff

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


"Ignatieff understands that democracies around the world were fighting terrorism long before 9/11. In this exceptionally sophisticated commentary, he provides much-needed global and historical context for America's war against al-Qaeda, illuminating the promise and peril of a range of possible strategies for combating terrorist threats. . . . The sheer diversity of his case studies enables Ignatieff to discredit any simple-minded approach to terrorism. . . . [His] impressive scholarship also underscores his warning that unless democracies subject all of their extraordinary tactics to legislative oversight and judicial scrutiny, they may subvert the very political traditions they set out to defend. The turbulence of recent history guarantees keen interest for this sobering inquiry."--Booklist

"Ignatieff's analysis is nuanced, balancing ideals, necessities and practicalities, and his literary inspirations are a welcome addition to doleful history. . . . [The] discussion that this book can inspire is well worth the effort for those struggling to sustain a free society and build a more hopeful world."--William S. Kowinski, San Francisco Chronicle

"[A] wise and reflective book. . . . This book is much more than a philosophical exercise. Ignatieff addresses real concerns, such as the acquisition of nuclear or chemical weapons by terrorist organizations. This should be required reading for all informed citizens as we face an uncertain future."--Library Journal

"[A] thoughtful essay by a leading public intellectual. . . . [Ignatieff] eloquently argu[es] that a liberal democracy can survive the age of terror only if it takes seriously the political context within which terrorism thrives--that is, by engaging, persuading, and championing social justice."--Foreign Affairs

"Ignatieff's analysis is nuanced, balancing ideals, necessities, and practicalities, and his literary inspirations are a welcome addition to doleful history."--William S. Kowinski, San Francisco Chronicle

"Ignatieff presents a convincing argument as to how terrorist threats should be handled at the political level: with a combination of determination and caution."--Re'em Segev,Ethics

"Michael Ignatieff has written a book in defense of liberty, in praise of democracy. . . . [I]t is too rare that the task is conducted with Ignatieff's learning and subtlety."--Jedediah Purdy, Michigan Law Review


"Michael Ignatieff has written a sober yet chilling account of the issues facing liberal democracies in the face of modern international terrorism. In a surgical analysis he describes the challenges facing their leaders and citizens. His warning of the critical dangers of under- and over-reaction in combating terrorism could not be more timely."--Justice Richard Goldstone, Constitutional Court of South Africa

"Michael Ignatieff's The Lesser Evil is a strikingly readable rumination on the ethical challenge of our time: How can a liberal democracy survive the long struggle against terror and do so in ways that preserve its institutions and dignity intact? His answer is a profound moral analysis, drawing on insights from philosophy, law, and literature, of how to surmount the strength of the terrorists, who are weak, and avoid the weakness of the democracies, who can be both strong and just."--Michael Doyle, Harold Brown Professor of Law and International Affairs, Columbia University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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