Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy can Reshape our Politics, our Soldiers and Ourselves
North Melbourne, Spinifex Press, 2010. 246pp.
$34.95 AUD (paperback)
Unmaking War, Remaking Men Unmaking War is an unusually outing for Kathleen Barry who is known for her work on prostitution. (1) Barry covers a wide range of topics, such as the construction of masculinity, militarism and nationalism. Despite the book's wide scope, the finished product is a powerful critique of militarism and breaks new ground with its discussion of empathy, core masculinity and the possibility of remaking men. At its core Unmaking War is a book about the importance of empathy and the damaging effects of a lack of empathy in a nation.
Unmaking War provides a fresh and broad reaching critique of militarised masculinity. The book explores how militarism intersects with masculinity in a wide range of social contexts. Using an informal and personal style of writing Barry explores post 9-11 society. Unmaking War sits at a unique intersection, writing on ethics, gender studies, international politics and sociology. Each chapter covers a different facet of militarised masculinity in an anecdotal fashion rich with personal stories and insights. The first chapter investigates the value of human life and how masculinity serves to make men expendable. The second, third, and fourth chapters chart the militarisation of men from civilian life, through military training and to the battlefield. The fifth, sixth and seventh chapters explore these practices in the world stage and studies how world leaders have come to accept men's expandability. Chapters eight to ten explore recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon though individual stories and anecdotes. Chapters ten though thirteen explore the damage that militarised masculinity does to men, and the possibility of reforming men in a more equitable fashion. Each chapter is full of deeply personal examples and stories from individuals that have experienced conflict and military training to provide a powerful critique of masculinity.
Unmaking War, Remaking Men fills an important place in the literature on masculinity and warfare. Barry's position as a feminist writing about men connects her work to other authors who have challenged militarisation such as Myriam Miedzian, Jean Bethke Elshtain and Cynthia Enloe. (2) Barry's personal style of writing is notably similar to
Enloe's pioneering work...