Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind the Military Mind

A quick glance at the website promoting Nancy Sherman’s Stoic Warriors indicates an impressive list of television and radio interviews as well as dozens of talks at both military and academic venues that for most academic philosophers are the stuff of dreams. [1] With many reviews appearing in scholarly and popular journals and kudos adorning her book from people as diverse as therapist and employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Jonathan Shay, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former U.S. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, one might think that Sherman has struck a chord with a wide audience. However, despite the high-profile publicity and the timeliness of the book’s publication, its reception has been rather mixed and occasionally hostile. One would have expected a warmer reception both from military personnel who are being taken seriously and treated respectfully by an academic and from academics who tend to endorse Sherman’s Walzerian views concerning the equal moral dignity retained by all soldiers (even when armed) during warfare. [2] Instead, few audiences are fully pleased with this book. The generally lukewarm response is best captured by Gregory Foster, a decorated Vietnam veteran and professor at National Defense University in Washington, D.C.: ‘It certainly deserves to be read, though less for the answers it provides than for the profound questions it raises.’ [3]

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