In Praise Of Forgetting: Historical Memory And Its Ironies

Hardcover | May 10, 2016

byDavid Rieff

not yet rated|write a review
A leading contrarian thinker explores the ethical paradox at the heart of history's wounds

The conventional wisdom about historical memory is summed up in George Santayana’s celebrated phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Today, the consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget, is nearly absolute. And yet is this right?

David Rieff, an independent writer who has reported on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, insists that things are not so simple. He poses hard questions about whether remembrance ever truly has, or indeed ever could, “inoculate” the present against repeating the crimes of the past. He argues that rubbing raw historical wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed by outside forces—neither remedies injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he is right, then historical memory is not a moral imperative but rather a moral option—sometimes called for, sometimes not. Collective remembrance can be toxic. Sometimes, Rieff concludes, it may be more moral to forget.
 
Ranging widely across some of the defining conflicts of modern times—the Irish Troubles and the Easter Uprising of 1916, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11—Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant, and elegant essay is an indispensable work of moral philosophy.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$29.62 online
$32.50 list price (save 8%)
In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25
Prices may vary. why?
Please call ahead to confirm inventory.

From the Publisher

A leading contrarian thinker explores the ethical paradox at the heart of history's wounds The conventional wisdom about historical memory is summed up in George Santayana’s celebrated phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Today, the consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget, is nearly...

David Rieff is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the 21st Century. He lives in New York City.

other books by David Rieff

A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis
A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis

Paperback|Oct 7 2003

$25.99 online$28.99list price(save 10%)
Crimes Of War: What The Public Should Know
Crimes Of War: What The Public Should Know

Paperback|Nov 13 2007

$29.11 online$32.50list price(save 10%)
The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the 21st Century
The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the...

Hardcover|Oct 6 2015

$32.26 online$34.99list price(save 7%)
see all books by David Rieff
Format:HardcoverDimensions:160 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:May 10, 2016Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300182791

ISBN - 13:9780300182798

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of In Praise Of Forgetting: Historical Memory And Its Ironies

Reviews

Extra Content

Editorial Reviews

"A journalist who has frequented global hotspots and an analyst of humanitarian policy, . . . Rieff advances his argument in spare prose, with implacable tenacity, and vast knowledge."—Samuel Moyn, The New Republic