Jill Lepore on the Connection Between War and Narrative

Something I’ve been thinking about:

“Words about war are often lies.  False reports, rumors, deceptions.  One nation’s propaganda may be its enemy’s profanity: truth in war is relative (which is not to say that some kinds of killing aren’t worse than others).

“To say that war cultivates language is not to ignore what else war does: war kills.  Indeed, it is the central claim of this book that wounds and words–the injuries and their interpretation–cannot be separated, that acts of war generate acts of narration, and that both types of acts are often joined in a common purpose: defining the geographical, political, cultural, and sometimes racial and national boundaries between peoples.”

From The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (Knopf, 1998)

2 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Jul 12, 2008 @ 6:22

    I’ve actually read all of Lepore’s books, but _In the Name of War_ remains my favorite.

  • Tim Abbott Jul 11, 2008 @ 21:39

    That is a great book. LePore has also written about the great “negro scare” that shook New York in 1741 called “New York Burning” that I’ve been meaning to read.

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