The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror

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Penguin Canada, 2004 - Political Science - 212 pages
1 Review
In the age of terrorism, the temptations of ruthlessness can be overwhelming. But there is also the anxiety that a violent response to violence makes us morally indistinguishable from our enemies.

There is perhaps no greater political challenge today than trying to win the war against terrorism without losing our democratic souls. Michael Ignatieff confronts this challenge head-on with a combination of pragmatic idealism, historical sensitivity, and astute political judgment.

Ignatieff traces the modern history of terrorism and counter-terrorism from the nihilists of Czarist Russia and the militias of Weimar Germany to the IRA and Al Qaeda. He shows how the most potent response to terror has been force, decisive and direct, but--just as important--restrained. Restraint also gives democracy its strongest weapon: the moral power to endure when the furies of vengeance and hatred are spent.

Finalist for the 2004 Lionel Gelber Award

"An impeccably argued case for how to balance security and liberty in the face of the new kind of threat posed by today's terrorists..."--"Publishers Weekly"

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The lesser evil: political ethics in an age of terror

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In this wise and reflective book, Ignatieff (director, Carr Ctr. for Human Rights Policy, Harvard) draws upon his training as a historian and journalist to look behind the popular knee-jerk ... Read full review

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A waffling evasion of responsibility, with very little real content. Read full review

Contents

The Ethics of Emergency
25
CHAPTER THREE
54
CHAPTER FOUR
82
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Michael Ignatieff, born in Toronto in 1947. But at the age of 11, Ignatieff was sent to Toronto to attend Upper Canada College as a boarder in 1959. At UCC, Ignatieff was elected a school prefect as Head of Wedd's House, was the captain of the varsity soccer team, and served as editor-in-chief of the school's yearbook. As well, Ignatieff volunteered for the Liberal Party during the 1965 federal election by canvassing the York South riding. He resumed his work for the Liberal Party in 1968, as a national youth organizer and party delegate for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau party leadership campaign. He then went on to continue his education at the University of Toronto and Harvard and Cambridge universities. In 1976, Ignatieff completed his Ph.D in History at Harvard University. He was granted a Cambridge M.A. by incorporation in 1978 on taking up a fellowship at King's College there. Michael Ignatieff has written television programs for the BBC, novels, and works of nonfiction. He has also authored essays and reviews for several publications including The New York Times. From 1990-93, he wrote a weekly column on international affairs for The Observer. His family memoir, The Russian Album, received Canada's Governor General Award in 1988. His second novel, Scar Tissue, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1993. Other nonfiction works include A Just Measure of Pain, the Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution and the Warrior's Honor: Ethic War and the Modern Conscience.

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