Honor: A History

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 89%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (28) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $6.90   
  • Used (21) from $1.99   


The importance of honor is present in the earliest records of civilization. Today, while it may still be an essential concept in Islamic cultures, in the West, honor has been disparaged and dismissed as obsolete. In this lively and authoritative book, James Bowman traces the curious and fascinating history of this ideal, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment and to the killing fields of World War I and the despair of Vietnam. Bowman reminds us that the fate of honor and the fate of morality and even manners are deeply interrelated.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594031984
  • Publisher: Encounter Books
  • Publication date: 7/25/2007
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Pages: 382
  • Sales rank: 1,476,619
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Two Kinds of Honor     1
Cultural Honor, East and West
"We Are Men": The Islamic Honor Culture and the West     15
Rightly to Be Great: The Origins of the Western Honor Culture     41
Aristocracy and Democracy: Honor Democratized     67
The Decline and Fall of the Western Honor Culture, 1914-1975
What Happened to Honor? Modern Warfare, Therapy and Feminism     95
Honor Between the Wars: The Cult of Youth     121
World War II: Honor and the Progressive Spirit     151
Honor in Postwar America: Korea and the 1950s     179
Vietnam: War As Social Therapy and Psychological Trauma     207
Post-Honor Society
Vietnam and the Loss of Cultural Honor     235
The Aristocracy of Feeling: Honor As Celebrity     263
Honor's Revival: Why Do We Need It? Is It Possible?     293
Acknowledgments     325
Notes     329
Index     361
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2006

    Cultural Honor: Phoenix with the Hues of a Chameleon

    James Bowman narrates with panache the history of honor. Bowman makes a distinction between what he calls the reflexive honor and the cultural honor. The reflexive honor is all about not losing face. Think for instance about a child involved in a snowball fight who will have to hit back to avoid a public humiliation. The reflexive honor prospers around the world to this day because it reflects an enduring trait of the human condition. The cultural honor is made up of the traditions, stories, and habits of thought of a particular society about among other things the proper and improper use of violence. In contrast to the reflexive honor, the cultural honor fell in disrepute in the West after the slaughter of WWI. Pacifism, feminism, and psychotherapy have each played an important role in downgrading the western cultural honor in the last eighty years. Despite this public demotion, cultural honor is still alive in the background. Honor has been built in the DNA of the U.S. armed forces since the birth of the country. Some university campuses still feel very strongly about the enforcement of honor systems and honor codes. Similarly, criminal gangs need honor for their survival and prosperity. The current war on terrorism can be construed as a legitimate reaction to an honor sullied on 9/11. More generally, respect, self-esteem, pride, and credibility, which are cherished concepts in the U.S. society, could be considered the current heirs to the derided honor culture in the West. Bowman draws the attention of his readers to the fact that the honor culture has not yet experienced the same transformation in the Islamic world. As Bowman correctly points out, the honor culture was already in existence before the conversion of these lands to Islam in the seventh century C.E. Unlike the West under the influence of both Judaism and Christianity, the Islamic world generally does not make a clear distinction between the spiritual and temporal realms. Turkey has been a major exception to this rule thanks to the legacy of Mustapha Kemal Atatürk. At the end of his book, Bowman pleads for the rehabilitation of the cultural honor in the West to guarantee the continuity of its values in the aftermath of 9/11. Bowman identifies four major obstacles to that revival: the defeat of the western hatred and fear of war, the social acceptance of inequalities besides pecuniary ones, the rupture with the celebrity-culture death star, and the revitalization of the political, social, and intellectual assumptions about the differences between the sexes in the U.S. Bowman sounds too pessimistic about the future of the honor culture in the West. Cultural honor is like a chameleon that can change its hues to adapt to its environment. Western democracies are inclined to conduct peaceful foreign policies and go to war in self-defense as Michael Mandelbaum reminds his readers in ¿The Ideas that Conquered the World.¿ Recently, Israel went to war with Hezbollah in self-defense and to reestablish its honor and power of deterrence that had been sullied repeatedly before the unprovoked incursion of Hezbollah into Israel in July 2006.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)