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War and Peace: A Reading List

By Sam Chambers, Ana Cecilia Matute and Konstantopoulou

We are living in a historical moment where people must confront different conflicts simultaneously and endure their violence. The UN has declared that we are in a new era of conflict and violence. Taking the time to understand what is happening may be the first step in bringing visibility to these issues and changing the narrative presented by the media.

Open dialogues and ongoing discussions about these events can exert more pressure on countries to become involved in the conversation and provide increased aid those in need. This week, we will explore some books that can help us better understand current conflicts and explore potential pathways to peace.

Palestine by Joe Sacco

A realistic approach to the ongoing and difficult situation in Palestine, this graphic novel is the result of extensive research by Joe Sacco, who conducted interviews with at least one hundred people in Gaza and the West Bank, including both Jews and Palestinians. Thereby, it offers the reader a close look at the situation that the news we constantly see does not cover, sharing instead the stories and thoughts of those living in the region.

This poignant novel serves as a key educational resource for understanding the current situation in Palestine, even though it was published in 2001. Additionally, it features an interesting introduction by Edward Said, that remains relevant.

Reading about current conflicts in distant places can be challenging, but novels like this one can help us understand and play an active role in supporting others.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Published just five years back, Kamila Shamsie’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel is still related to current affairs, thanks to the malevolent events currently taking place in our spheric, still-rotating globe. Despite the vivid presence of a romantic relationship in the plotline, the essence of the book lies deeper than that, with Isma, Aneeka and Parvaiz’s world having collided with that of the privileged Eamonn Lone, son of the infamous Karamat Lone, a renowned M.P. Home Fire is fundamentally based on the intriguing and complex themes of Islam, Nationality, and Identity; a true retelling of Sophocles’ Antigone, it portrays the miles-apart different worlds of two British Muslim families in contemporary England.

Shamsie’s unique use of radical words and storylines explores the narrow point of view that society holds against a person, with the main criteria being their religion and nationality, as was sadly expected. The Pasha siblings may be British but that does not stop intruders and by-passers pointing their critical fingers at them and question their national identity merely because of their faith, something as problematic as it is unfair.

The unconventional writing of the novel also stands as proof of both will-power and fate’s dynamics, as factors like background, family-ties and beliefs, religion and habits are incapable of standing in the way of life and love. The important message that is conveyed, though, lies in the ending of the book, through the never-ending stubbornness and mass of prejudices and preconceptions become the cause of death, grief and ultimately the spilling of innocent blood.

Peace in the Age of Chaos: The Best Solution for a Sustainable Future by Steve Killelea

What creates peace? How do we measure it and why do we need it? These are the questions asked by Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace, in this groundbreaking study. What creates peace, Killelea lays out, is more than simply the absence of war and violence. Drawing upon his experiences in war-torn regions and his conceptual framework of Positive Peace, Killelea challenges conventional narratives on the subject. The eight-pillar model he advances emphasises how individuals and their communities are interconnected and the instrumental role of peace in both sustainable development and personal well-being.

Throughout the book, Killelea weaves together diverse narratives from business, politics, religion and culture to illustrate the multifaceted nature of peace. Whether it's the perspective of a successful entrepreneur, a local farmer in Kenya, or a mother grieving the loss of her son, the author emphasises that peace is ultimately rooted in the human experience. This approach makes the book accessible to a wide range of readers and perfect for globally conscious and motivated readers. For those wanting to engage more in the subject, the Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace provides fascinating empirically based analysis.


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