Life, Death, and the Western Way of War traces when and how western soldiers—once regarded as simple fighting tools—became the far less expendable beings that we know today.
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Life, Death, and the Western Way of War traces when and how western soldiers—once regarded as simple fighting tools—became the far less expendable beings that we know today. In Kant's terms, the study traces the process through which soldiers have been turned from mere military means into ends in themselves. The book argues that such a major transformation is largely the result of a shift in the social meaning ascribed to soldiers' death. It
suggests that looking at death can somehow provide a privileged angle to understanding the value that societies attach to life. The narrative emerging from the empirical evidence will show that the story of attitudes towards soldiers' death is the story of a gradual, increasing process of individualization in the social
meaning attached to human loss in war. Such a development, which took centuries to emerge in full, was neither simple nor linear. It was a process that the state was temporarily able to frame in the collective narrative of the nation, but which ultimately has seen the increasing importance of the life of the individual soldier. In tracing the process through which soldiers have been turned from an amorphous collective into distinct individuals, this book shows how the emphasis on the primacy of
the individual has further eroded the effectiveness of western warfare as an instrument of foreign policy. In particular, the modern, liberal conception of the soldier has had the unintended consequence of jeopardizing the Clausewitzian relationship between military means and political