STANLEY HAUERWAS’ new book War and the American Difference is not the first volume that he has written on the theme of war, but it’s the first one he’s released post-9/11. Although the Duke Divinity School professor frequently writes on topics of war, peace, and violence, this new volume is perhaps his clearest account to date of the church’s witness in a violent world. Like most of Hauerwas’ previous work, this new collection of essays is not for the faint of heart—or mind. Although the reading gets somewhat dense at times, it is ultimately rewarding, a beacon of Christ’s peace in an age of endless war.
Readers who are familiar with Hauerwas’ work might be tempted to put down the book after the first few essays, which rehash themes that have characterized his work for more than a quarter-century. In these early chapters, Hauerwas explores thorny questions such as the nature of “America’s God” and why war is a “moral necessity” for the United States, peppering his writing with provocative statements such as “America is an extraordinarily wealthy society, determined to remain so even if it requires our domination of the rest of the world.”