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There's a hazy line between my posts arguing that the Civil War wasn't tragic, and my posts on the 30 Years War. The key dilemma I'm trying to wrestle with is how we should think about war, given its consistency throughout history, its horrible consequences, and the tendencies of people to canonize, in varying degrees, its practitioners. 


Is war tragic? And if so, given that war exists throughout the whole of human history, does calling war "tragic" neuter the condemnation? Is there a such thing as a "good" or "just" war? Was the Civil War a "just" war? Was World War II? Bosnia?

My sense is that these questions are neither original or new. I don't open this thread to seek answers--the questions are too big. But I wonder if anyone among the Horde can recommend thinkers, anthropologists, historians, ethicists, writers etc. who've looked at these questions. I understand much about the narrative. I'm more interested in how intellectuals have processed the meaning of it all.

I continue to argue that the Civil War wasn't tragic. But that's easy, indeed almost neccessary, for me to say. Indeed it's actually too easy. Please offer any essays or books you think might help here. And as always, think before speaking. Just because you can talk doesn't mean you should.

Closing comments for a bit, before we start.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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