Gift Guide

Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War [NOOK Book]


From the American Revolution to the end of World War II, the United
States spent nineteen years at war against other nations. But since1950,
the total is twenty-two years and counting. On four occasions, U.S.
presidents elected as "peace...

See more details below
Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49 price
(Save 42%)$19.99 List Price


From the American Revolution to the end of World War II, the United
States spent nineteen years at war against other nations. But since1950,
the total is twenty-two years and counting. On four occasions, U.S.
presidents elected as "peace candidates" have gone on to lead the nation
into ferocious armed conflicts. Repeatedly, wars deemed necessary when
they began have been seen in retrospect as avoidable, Äîandill-advised.

profess to be a peace-loving people and one wary of "foreign
entanglements." Yet we have been drawn into wars in distant lands from
Vietnam to Afghanistan. We cherish our middle-class comforts and our
children. Yet we send our troops to Fallujah and Mogadishu. How is it
that ordinary Americans with the most to lose are so easily convinced to
follow hawkish leaders-of both parties-into war? In Reasons to Kill
noted scholar Richard E. Rubenstein explores both the rhetoric that
sells war to the public and the underlying cultural and social factors
that make it so effective. With unmatched historical perspective and
insightful commentary, Rubenstein offers citizens new ways to think for
themselves about crucial issues of war and peace.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Reasons to Kill is a vital book with an urgent message deserving of a wide readership and much discussion. Better than anyone else, Rubenstein probes America's past and present to question the rush to war post-9/11, and does so judiciously, in a highly readable style enriched by scholarly mastery.”—Richard Falk, author of The Great Terror War and On Humane Governance, Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara

“Many of us long for an intelligent and informed conversation about America’s role in the world. Are we going the way of all empires, or is there another way? Richard E. Rubenstein has provided a sane and probing contribution to that conversation. In a time of faux-populism and jingoistic patriotism, it is encouraging to read a critical analysis of our attitude to war and violence from a writer who deeply loves his country.”—Alan Jones, dean emeritus, Grace Cathedral and author of Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality and Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting your Mind.

“A powerful and frank discussion of the peculiar American rationales for war and the essential questions to ask about them. You may not agree with everything Rubenstein says, but he makes more sense of American justifications for war than anyone writing now. There is no cant in this book. Like a prophet, Rubenstein is urging Americans now, finally, to be honest and direct about war, as if it were their last chance. It may well be.”—John Womack Jr., Robert Woods Bliss Professor emeritus of Latin American History and Economics, Harvard University, author of Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Reasons to Kill makes a forceful case for questioning politicians and ensuring that weare not led blindly into war.”—Literary Hill

“Richard Rubenstein has written a book that every American should read and every peace-oriented American should memorize for the next time they have to explain why it's not enough to be pro-peace in your heart, that you need to actively confront the war makers and those who passively go along with them. Rubenstein carefully explores all the past and current arguments for war, including the war on terrorism, and shows why this is the one political decision that should be taken with the utmost of caution, because ‘while in a democracy we can fix most of our mistakes by throwing the rascals out or changing policies, we cannot resuscitate the dead or cure those permanently maimed in body or in spirit.’ Rather than dismiss those who have supported wars as stupid, inherently militarists, or fundamentally brainwashed, Rubenstein correctly understands that many Americans can be reached through rational discourse, if offered in the respectful way that Reasons to Kill consistently manifests. Please get everyone you know to read this book!”—Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine

“Richard Rubenstein delves deftly into the sociocultural characteristics of our country to understand the context behind America’s proclivity for war. Given America’s military interventionism—every two years since World War II—and given that our children are being raised on a nearly ten-year-old war in Afghanistan, war is what we know, becoming part and parcel of our nation’s psyche and economy. Protecting our nation’s moral integrity, national security, and fiscal solvency, then, requires a thorough read of Rubenstein’s patriotic missive to this country and a willingness to give serious review to his recommendations.”—Representative Michael M. Honda, United States Congress

“A lively, contrarian view of history—fruitful reading for peaceniks and warfighters alike.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Undeniably important”—Publishers Weekly  "Absorbing and engaging. a very useful exploration of an important and timely subject. … This is an even handed, thoughtful, well-written book for interested academics and lay people alike. It is not so long as to be unwieldy or to allow the reader to get lost in unfolding complex, formal arguments. It is a resource to be commended to anyone thinking about war, and how we can better function as thoughtful, engaged citizens of this nation. … While the book is not written from a particular religious or theological perspective, it invites all of us, including people of faith, to be more rigorous in our thinking about, and our response to the prospect of, war."Conversations in Religion and Theology

Library Journal - BookSmack!
I started this with low hopes, expecting a hyperbolic diatribe disguising force feeding as explanation*. Instead I found a well-written, accessible, and resonant book so engrossing that I neglected other areas of life (well, not eating) in order to read it. Rubie (George Mason Univ.) explores what moral justifications are powerful enough to persuade the populace to commit to war, speculating that most appeal is "primarily to [our] religious or moral sensibilities. We agree to put ourselves and others in harm's way because we are convinced that the sacrifice is justified." Though the book's impetus is 9/11 (and the ten solid years of war that have followed it), other conflicts from America's past are pointed at as evidence. As such, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are indistinguishable from those in Vietnam, Korea, even the Mexican-American War as far as our national motivation goes. Many of Rubie's strategies seem totally workable, e.g., to "separate al-Qaeda from other Islamist groups by bringing the others into dialogue and reconstructing our relationship with their Islamic world." Hmmmm. America reframes the tactic, remains secure, looks strong, and improves its global reputation. Sounds great! The only nit I can pick is characterizing America as the "only" superpower when, admit it, we're on our last gasp. We're the next Great Britain: broke and pretending to be relevant on the world stage. Our Larry Bird phase is over; we're entering Brett Favre. — Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes," Booksmack! 2/3/11
Kirkus Reviews

A provocative essay on our war-loving, bullying nation.

"No other modern nation has a more bellicose record—and our pace is accelerating," writes Rubenstein (Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs/George Mason Univ.), who reckons that the United States has been at war for more than 20 of the last 60 years, and nonstop since 2001. The reasons for going to war are myriad, but the author writes that they are usually explained in religious or moral terms. These terms, and the ensuing depiction of the enemy as evil, have been enough to chase off opposition to war. Furthermore, even if Americans profess to be peace-loving, opposition to war usually disappears in the run-up to and early stages of any given conflict. Things are getting worse rather than better, Rubenstein argues. What he calls "the current war system, with its pattern of continuous interventions in an ever-expanding zone of conflict," asks that Americans accept it as axiomatic that our aims are good, our enemies bad and no consent need be sought or given on the part of a populace only a small number of whom actually participate in battle. The author examines the history of American war in light of the "warrior culture" of the Appalachian frontier and the Puritan view that any war fought had to be justified on moral grounds, and he takes a generally evenhanded view of things, even if his argument seems designed to give fits to the warhawks in Washington, D.C. For instance, he writes, it is entirely reasonable to depict the enemy as evil: "Why else would one feel justified in taking someone else's life or risking one's own in battle?" Why indeed? Just so, our enemies, being evil, areipso factolegitimate targets.

A lively, contrarian view of history—fruitful reading for peaceniks and warfighters alike.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608193752
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 10/4/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 865,813
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Richard E. Rubenstein is Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at George Mason University. His previous books include When Jesus Became God and Aristotle's Children.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & 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 & 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 & 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 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 & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & 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 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 all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 29, 2010

    highly recommended

    Dr Rubenstein writes with both intellectual honesty and compassion. He does not look down upon his dissenters, of whom there will be many, but rather respects the complexity of the American dilemma of a uniquely puritanical religion and heart felt belief in our manifest destiny . Insights into our various military adventures were often excruciating.
    Very highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 3, 2011

    A Serious Subject matter.

    Reasons To Kill analyzes a subject matter which is difficult to address, however, Richard Rubenstein does a superb job at doing so. America is a nation of war, and hostilities, an within this book the reader is introduced to a number of different perspectives regarding this. This is not a book for readers who are afraid to read the truth, but for those who would like to see things from a different perspective, buy a copy of this book by Richard Rubenstein.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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