Murad Idris, "War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought" (Oxford UP, 2019)


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Murad Idris, a political theorist in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores the concept of peace, the term itself and the way that it has been considered and analyzed in western and Islamic political thought. War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (Oxford University Press, 2018) traces the concept of peace, and the way it is often insinuated with other words and concepts, over more than 2000 years of political thought. Idris begins with Plato’s Laws as one of the early sources to consider the tension that seems to be constant in terms of the pursuit of violence in order to attain peace.

War for Peace provides some important framing in thinking about peace, in large measure because the research indicates how rare it is for peace itself to be solitary, it is almost always lassoed to other words and concepts, and functions either as a binary opposition (e.g.: war and peace) or as part of a dyad combination (e.g.: peace and justice). We are urged to think about peace and the valence that is given to the word and the ideal—since the moral and the political understandings of peace are often entangled and part of what Idris is doing in his careful and thoughtful research is to tease out the political concept, apart from the often religious and moral ideal. This rich and complex analysis integrates a broad group of theorists—Plato, al-Farabi, Aquinas, Erasmus, Gentili, Grotius, Ibn Khaldun, Hobbes, Kant, and Sayyid Qutb)—all of whom were examining the role of peace within politics and political thought. And Idris structures these thinkers into chronological and theoretical groupings, to explore the ways in which they were responding to each other, across time, but also to understand how different thinkers were connecting peace to other concepts. War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought may leave the reader anxious but also enlightened in considering this idea and its perplexing place within the history of political thought.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).

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