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War Is a Lie

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  106 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
WAR IS A LIE is a thorough refutation of every major argument used to justify wars, drawing on evidence from numerous past wars, with a focus on those wars that have been most widely defended as just and good. This is a handbook of sorts, a manual to be used in debunking future lies before future wars have a chance to begin. For more information visit
Paperback, 367 pages
Published October 30th 2010 by David Swanson (first published October 28th 2010)
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John Rachel
Jun 25, 2013 John Rachel rated it it was amazing
When we look at the current mindset of America, its obsession with terror, its political gridlock, its exceptionalist view of itself, its imperial view of the rest of the world, its immersion in violence and militarism, it's hard to grasp and embrace the overall premise of this book. Yet for reasons which range from survival to basic human decency we must.

When the Nobel Peace Prize is prematurely awarded to a warmonger like President Obama, and an author like David Swanson doesn't even make the
David Swanson
Nov 21, 2010 David Swanson rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm not going to rate it because I wrote it -- in English, not Hungarian. And I am the same person as "David Swanson" who wrote "Daybreak," not a distinct "David Cn Swanson."
This book is packed with lies! And that's a good thing. Some highlights, or lowlights:

-There is no greater evil than war. Paraphrasing one example: It's not remotely possible that Saddam Hussein would have harmed Iraq nearly as much as it was harmed in the war.

-An extreme inordinate amount of deaths from war are civilians - non-participants, innocent victims. See below.

-Governments the US has overthrown:
Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile,
N. Jr.
Jan 10, 2015 N. Jr. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political-govt
At first, I thought I probably knew much of the material in the book, but I was surprised to find out how ignorant I was about not only the US wars in Mexico and the Philippines, but also about World War II. In that sense alone it is worth reading, as it provides the opportunity to enlighten the reader with the details of history that have been whitewashed out of the textbooks. It is so informative, that a second read is well worth it.
Many of us now feel that war is a destructive enterprise that
Jan 22, 2011 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best defenses of pacifism that I have ever read.

Swanson's book is very detailed and carefully researched, providing multitudes of historical examples to argue that war is, as the great protest song declares, good for absolutely nothing.

Swanson does not shy away from the tough cases: wasn't World War II justified? What about the US and NATO's military actions to stop the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? The answers that Swanson provides, though, are not simple, but of course, we liv
Vane Lashua
Feb 11, 2011 Vane Lashua rated it it was amazing
Just like the intro says, it's a refutation of the reasons for our pursuit of war AND the incredible and illogical addiction that we, our neighbors, "enemies", corporations, legislators and executives have for it. It stimulates thinking about the awful waste and ignorance we abide as citizens, eg,

How to stop the Afghan War: If we BOUGHT all the poppy/opium crop directly from Afghani farmers (costing us about

~$60,000,000,000 / YEAR == $175,000,000 / DAY)

would take 2/3rds of the world's heroin s
Dave/Maggie Bean
Dec 19, 2015 Dave/Maggie Bean rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Four stars for the first ten chapters (even if too many of the quotes for my liking originate on blogs and websites).

One star for the last four.
Jonathon P
Jan 20, 2016 Jonathon P rated it did not like it
This book is terrible. What sort of PhD recipient uses blatant accusations of stupidity against a rhetorical opponent, much less a concept - war - which has theoretical roots as far back as our recorded history? Although there is much truth to what is written, it lacks academic depth. It's a rehash of all modern liberal education, and the zingers he frequently builds up to are about as insightful as a Twitter post. With a title that challenges the entire concept of warfare, I was disappointed to ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Worth reading...
Paul Brogan
Sep 03, 2014 Paul Brogan rated it liked it
Shelves: history
It took me over a year to read this book. It wasn't poorly written, it wasn't wrong, and it wasn't impenetrable. It was just long, too long, like an extended Facebook post detailing a litany of war lies and war crimes from God-knows-when, in order to what? To persuade? If so, then the unfortunate thing is that I'm already persuaded that war rarely, if ever, has a workable defence. A more bellicose soul may struggle to begin, let alone to finish or be convinced by, this lecture by David Swanson.

Donald Linnemeyer
Oct 08, 2011 Donald Linnemeyer rated it liked it
Shelves: history-american
In spite of the overly shrill rhetoric, Swanson does deliver on one thing: a wealth of damning, and at times disturbing, examples of objectionable war rhetoric, practices, and propaganda. The testimonies from soldiers in the Iraq War were particularly haunting. There was also a specific example of WWI propaganda that stuck with me: an image of Jesus in soldier's clothing aiming a rifle.

Worth reading if you're looking for a few handfuls of quotations and footnotes. But expect it to try your patie
Rob Granniss
Feb 23, 2011 Rob Granniss rated it really liked it
David Swanson takes aim at popular myths/lies used to excuse invasions in strategically important (and sometimes unimportant) nations. He attacks not only specific examples but the overall use of war as a solution to any problem. There's a fairly sizable section at the end of the book on ideas on how to work for peace, though like most in its genre it's sadly a bit thin.
Brian Carnell
Mar 15, 2012 Brian Carnell rated it did not like it
Based on some of the reviews on Amazon, I was looking forward to a well written critique of war propaganda. Instead, "War Is A Lie" is a disjointed, practically stream of consciousness rant that is as poorly sourced and ridiculously reasoned as the pro-war propaganda it is devoted to debunking.

Book was a complete waste of time.
War Is a Lie is a very well-written and thought out analysis and argument for how we have been constantly lied into war. Even if you don't agree with all the author's arguments, he definitely provides insight into how we need to stop viewing war as a solution to economic and political conflict.
Paul Valente
Jan 22, 2012 Paul Valente rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passionate and convincing polemic arguing for a world without war, filled with insights and damning evidence of state sponsored terrorism and murder. Only his argument that WWII was avoidable didn't convince me.
Jul 04, 2011 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: political
Anti-war. Not just anti-Iraq or anti-Vietnam but anti-war period. Worth reading,sharpens your thinking. A bit repetative after a while at 336 pages.
Jun 29, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Read this book now! Give copies to everyone you know.
Lana Higbee
Sep 16, 2014 Lana Higbee rated it it was amazing
Really provocative, but needs better footnoting.
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I wrote this; it's in English 2 7 Nov 21, 2010 07:20PM  
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War" and "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and
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“A central problem with the idea that wars are needed to combat evil is that there is nothing more evil than war. War causes more suffering and death than anything war can be used to combat.” 1 likes
“Norman Thomas wrote in 1935: “The Man from Mars who saw how men suffered in the last war and how frantically they are preparing for the next war, which they know will be worse, would come to the conclusion that he was looking at the denizens of a lunatic asylum.”65” 1 likes
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