In Blood Rites, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the mystery of the human attraction to violence: What draws our species to war and even makes us see it as a kind. Book review: Blood Rites by Barbara Ehrenreich. Jenny Bunker finds a re-issued book on the passions of war more pertinent than ever. Origins and History of the Passions of War by Barbara Ehrenreich. Reviews • Buy the Book. In Blood Rites, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the.

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However, I do wish she had spent at least a chapter on the anti-war movement and its influences, because modern war has definitely been challenged by a different mentality that sees war as inherently wrong and unjustified. I saw another review that faulted it I think for not being more academic and reliable. We need to know, and we need to know something more than piles of unrelated observations. Properly awed by her subject, she seeks to nudge and provoke readers, not overpower them.

She states recent archeological evidence that suggests that small band hunters were predated by tribal herding practices. Ehrenreich is right about this. After all her thinking goes only those of our ancestors most prone to violence and perhaps foolhardiness in the face of, say, a sabertooth tiger attack would have live to pass their genes on to us.

The switch from prey-predator to stalker happened around the same time that man started to look towards agriculture as a, at least in part, means of survival, and around the same time that war became a more prominent facet of life.

When massive beasts went extinct, solitary or small hunting groups became more efficient threatening the now superfluous large bands’ of men exalted positions within their tribes.


The only effective weapon that ancient men and women had to fight with was fire.

I like how the author presents war as a self perpetuating entity, with a life of its own that defies any concerted attempt to rationalize it away. She borrows from Jack Goody the addendum to Marx that civilisation is shaped as much by the means of destruction as by those of production.

It turned out to be one of the most meaningful books I’ve ever read. Barbaea 22, Robb Bridson rated it it was amazing.

Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War – Barbara Ehrenreich – Google Books

Blood Rites concludes in the s and leaves me wondering if we have advanced in our efforts to contain war since then. Apr 27, Bruce rated it it was amazing Shelves: Want to get our magazine?

Thanks for trying, Ehrenrejch There are no discussion topics on this book yet. If anything, humanity and its civilisations look to be tools used by war rather than the converse. She has done a great deal of homework, she is free of cant, and she is smart.

May 16, Michelle Mead rated it liked it. Suggests an origin for the fervor humanity has for war and how its manifestation has morphed throughout our history.

The blood rites became sacred.


Instead she changes the focus to the overwhelming human experience of being vulnerable prey. Anti-war activists can become macho and belligerent warriors in their own right, just as revolutionaries all too often evolve into fatigue-clad replacements for the oppressors they overthrow. Rather than man ehrereich a predator since his primordial origins, man started out as prey.


She parallels nations with the initial warrior elite, that war is ultimately necessary to maintain their status not only among other nations, but to justify their existence. I love this book, but I think I need to read it again. In any case, a lot of food for thought, and much of the information and insight is relevant today.

Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War by Barbara Ehrenreich

Her research led her to link killing and war to ritual and sacrifice and how religion and the sacrificial nature of war continues to act as rittes legitimaizing agent pitting the proverbial “us” against “them”. Paperbackpages. According to the book, my Blood Rites rekindled my long held interest in almost non-existent theories of war. Related to this, the fight or flight attitude of man in the face of danger is known to trigger a sense of alarm, heightened awareness, and a sense of solidarity, perhaps a result of, in prehistoric times, standing a chance of driving predators away by banding together, making a group of individuals appear and act as a single entity.

riyes One which particularly struck me was that men are the fighters of our species not because of superior strength, but because they are essentially disposable. Like the passions of war themselves, then, this book is an intoxicant: Don’t overlook this one. Dec 28, Geoffrey Bateman rated it really liked it Shelves: Return to Book Page.