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Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John W. Dower

Posted by Caitie F on June 23, 2014

Title: Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq8608394
Author: John W Dower
Hardcover: 465 pages
Pub Date: Sept 7, 2010
Publisher: W W Norton
Rating: ++++

Summary from publisher:

Dower examines the cultures of war revealed by four powerful events: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, and the invasion of Iraq in the name of a war on terror. The list of issues examined and themes explored is wide-ranging: failures of intelligence and imagination, wars of choice and strategic imbecilities; faith-based secular thinking as well as more overtly holy wars, the targeting of noncombatants, and the almost irresistible logic; and allure;of mass destruction. Dower’s new work also sets the U.S. occupations of Japan and Iraq side by side in strikingly original ways.

One of the most important books of this decade, Cultures of War offers comparative insights into individual and institutional behavior and pathologies that transcend cultures in the more traditional sense, and that ultimately go beyond war-making alone


This book took me a REALLY long time to read. I ran out of renewals at the library it took so long. It wasn’t that it was too hard to read (though I usually read narrative non-fiction and this is no, so it was challenging at times), it was that I would read a couple pages then stop and think about what I read.  I constantly wanted to talk about it with others, and often had interesting conversations with my family and friends.

It was really interesting looking at these four events and comparing and contrasting them and looking at them through a cultural lens.

My overall impression: we don’t learn from our past. At all. The same mistakes are made again and again, which is so frustrating. It also made me think about the US is a very different way, There was a lot that I wasn’t taught in school  and I wish I had been. It isn’t anti-US, but it looks at history critically and shows how other nations and governments view actions of the United States government.

During 2002-2005, I was in high school and while I paid attention to the news, I didn’t as much as I do now because I was worried about homework, swim team practice, and the upcoming show in theater or choir.  I didn’t know about a good amount of Iraq and I am really glad I took the time to read this and learn more. It opened my eyes and see the many mistakes that were made.

This is a challenging read, but if you are interested at all by the premise, I highly recommend it.  It shows multiple sides of war and how it has evolved.


One Response to “Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John W. Dower”

  1. […] Guards! by Terry Pratchett 2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 3.  Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John W Dower 4. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips 5. 11/22/63 by Stephen King 6. Pretty Monsters by […]

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