The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars

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9780195381214: The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars

Americans are greatly concerned about the number of our troops killed in battle--100,000 dead in World War I; 300,000 in World War II; 33,000 in the Korean War; 58,000 in Vietnam; 4,500 in Iraq; over 1,000 in Afghanistan--and rightly so. But why are we so indifferent, often oblivious, to the far greater number of casualties suffered by those we fight and those we fight for?

This is the compelling, largely unasked question John Tirman answers in The Deaths of Others. Between six and seven million people died in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq alone, the majority of them civilians. And yet Americans devote little attention to these deaths. Other countries, however, do pay attention, and Tirman argues that if we want to understand why there is so much anti-Americanism around the world, the first place to look is how we conduct war. We understandably strive to protect our own troops, but our rules of engagement with the enemy are another matter. From atomic weapons and carpet bombing in World War II to napalm and daisy cutters in Vietnam and beyond, we have used our weapons intentionally to kill large numbers of civilians and terrorize our adversaries into surrender. Americans, however, are mostly ignorant of these facts, believing that American wars are essentially just, necessary, and "good." Tirman investigates the history of casualties caused by American forces in order to explain why America remains so unpopular and why US armed forces operate the way they do.

Trenchant and passionate, The Deaths of Others forces readers to consider the tragic consequences of American military action not just for Americans, but especially for those we fight.

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About the Author:


John Tirman is Principal Research Scientist and Executive Director of the Center for International Studies, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His books include Terror, Insurgency, and the State: Ending Protracted Conflicts and 100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World.

Review:


"This sad and gripping record of crimes we dare not face, and the probing analysis of the roots of indifference and denial, tell us all too much about ourselves. It should be read, and pondered." -Noam Chomsky


"John Tirman has not only written a profoundly important, revelatory work about something that most people in this country ignore; he has looked deep into our history and the American mind to see why we ignore it. I wish I could give this highly readable book to everyone, from general to private to the civilian bureaucrats who send them off to kill, who shares the illusion that war mainly involves soldiers." -Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars


"The Deaths of Others is an incredibly important venture. I know of no other book that so comprehensively catalogues the victims of U.S. wars . . . Tirman has given us the definitive study of an extremely important but neglected subject. It a must-read for anyone concerned with the lethal impact of U.S. policy on people in all corners of the world." --The Progressive


"Stunning . . . Tirman lays out his strenuously argued case with considerable cogency . . . Tirman renders us great service by providing a fuller picture of the consequences of war and challenging us not to reject data simply because it is not congruent with our favored worldview . . . If Americans today marshal the resolve to enact workable normas ensuring that our use of drones will always discriminate between civilians and legimate enemy targets, then we will at last be facing up to the crucial moral questions raised in this book." --America


"In this extraordinary work, John Tirman engages and investigates an area that has generated relatively little attention or thought over several decades, if not centuries: the deaths of others ... [a] thought-provoking and powerful book."--David Ryan, International Affairs (01/05/2012)


"John Tirman has written a compelling and impassioned plea for attention to a neglected
and vital aspect of American history. He argues that Americans have ignored the human costs of their wars, and his book provides a grim tour of the devastation and suffering that the U.S. military has inflicted on civilians... [Tirman] has restarted an important discussion of the human costs of war. It is a conversation well worth continuing, and we can be grateful that Tirman has not provided all the answers."--Journal of American History


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