In This Review

Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War
Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War
By Stuart J. Kaufman
Cornell University Press, 2001, 262 pp

This author, like Kuperman, is part of a welcome trend among younger scholars probing the nature of modern war. Looking back, it is remarkable how much of the national security literature of the late Cold War drew on the conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century. In this book, Kaufman explores the ways in which ethnicity leads to war. Although rejecting the facile (but widely used) notion of deep, ineradicable, and ancient animosities, he nonetheless takes ethnicity seriously. He builds his theory around the idea of "symbolic politics" -- i.e., the stories and in particular the archetypes and caricatures that shape one group's view of another. He does not dismiss the role of manipulative leaders in inflaming hatreds and resentments, but neither does he assign them sole blame. A shrewd and balanced blend of theory and case analysis, primarily drawn from the Balkans and the Caucasus, that helps explain modern war.