THE CODE OF THE WARRIOR: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present

Shannon E. French, Author, John McCain, Foreword by . Rowman & Littlefield $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8476-9756-4

This dense, absorbing and valuable book studies the ethics governing warriors throughout history. French, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the U. S. Naval Academy, believes that the warrior needs an ethical framework not only to be an effective fighter but to remain a human being—and even to save his or her soul. With amazingly smooth writing for an academic study, she surveys the warrior ethic of various cultures as revealed in histories and, especially, their literatures, from the Iliad of ancient Greece to the codes of conduct of the Japanese Samurai. Hector, the Trojan hero, emerges as one of the ideal warriors portrayed in literature; his opponent Achilles comes off less well. The Roman legions were caught between hedonism and stoicism, but their matchless esprit de corps survived. And both the Shaolin monks, by inventing kung-fu, and the Plains Indians, by adapting to the horse, sought honor and effectiveness alike with grim determination. Guest essayist Felicia Ackerman points out that the Knights of the Round Table often avoided dishonor but not always stupidity, and of course the cult of vengeance among the Vikings and the Japanese practice of maintaining honor by seppuku took a bloody toll. Clearly written, with impressive erudition, balance and wit, this book will be agreeable reading for warriors, warriors in training or anyone interested in their welfare, although it demands a moderate to high degree of cultural literacy. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/20/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8476-9757-1
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