MUST WE FIGHT?: From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard: A New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention

William L. Ury, Editor . Jossey-Bass $19.95 (122p) ISBN 978-0-7879-6103-9

Ury, co-author of the bestselling Getting to Yes and a director at Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation, observes that, in most cases, conflict between two parties involves a "third side"—"the community in which the combatants, and their dispute, are embedded." Whether the conflict takes place in inner-city Boston, between Hindus and Muslims in India or in apartheid South Africa, Ury argues that the solution to "containing, resolving, and preventing" violence lies in activating this third group, whether it means involving independent witnesses, having "community talks" or mobilizing the media and the clergy. Two other writers from different fields contribute to the book's attempt to debunk the commonly held belief that violence and war are part of our primate and prehistoric heritage. Frans de Waal, a leading primatologist, argues that aggression in primates occurs in a social context and that mechanisms for cooperation are as natural as aggression. Brian Ferguson, an anthropologist of war, asserts that archeological evidence shows a history of limited flare-ups of carefully planned violence that benefit elites rather than a regular constant pattern of violent conflict. While the authors make a strong, persuasive case, arguing for more open societies and community involvement rather than increased policing, the format of the book is disappointing and will limit its audience to academe. The book consists of edited transcripts (including question-and-answer sessions) of two symposia held at Harvard in 1999 and 2000 and one "workbook" section in which readers are asked to put themselves in the place of an administrator faced with a simulated racial incident at a school. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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