New Release Books by Michael Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff is the author of On Consolation (2021), The Ordinary Virtues (2017), Liberties Journal of Culture and Politics (2020), The Russian Album (2015) and other 73 books.

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On Consolation

release date: Nov 11, 2021
On Consolation
As read on BBC Radio 4's 'Book of the Week', a timely, moving and profound exploration of how writers, composers and artists have searched for solace while facing loss, tragedy and crisis, from the historian and Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist Michael Ignatieff. 'This erudite and heartfelt survey reminds us that the need for consolation is timeless, as are the inspiring words and examples of those who walked this path before us.' Toronto Star When we lose someone we love, when we suffer loss or defeat, when catastrophe strikes – war, famine, pandemic – we go in search of consolation. Once the province of priests and philosophers, the language of consolation has largely vanished from our modern vocabulary, and the places where it was offered, houses of religion, are often empty. Rejecting the solace of ancient religious texts, humanity since the sixteenth century has increasingly placed its faith in science, ideology, and the therapeutic. How do we console each other and ourselves in an age of unbelief? In a series of portraits of writers, artists, and musicians searching for consolation – from the books of Job and Psalms to Albert Camus, Anna Akhmatova, and Primo Levi – writer and historian Michael Ignatieff shows how men and women in extremity have looked to each other across time to recover hope and resilience. Recreating the moments when great figures found the courage to confront their fate and the determination to continue unafraid, On Consolation takes those stories into the present, movingly contending that we can revive these traditions of consolation to meet the anguish and uncertainties of the twenty-first century.

The Ordinary Virtues

release date: Sep 18, 2017
The Ordinary Virtues
During a 3-year, 8-nation journey, Michael Ignatieff found that while human rights is the language of states and liberal elites, the moral language that resonates with most people is that of everyday virtues: tolerance, forgiveness, trust, and resilience. These ordinary virtues are the moral system of global cities and obscure shantytowns alike.

Liberties Journal of Culture and Politics

release date: Oct 10, 2020
Liberties Journal of Culture and Politics
Liberties - A Journal of Culture and Politics is a quarterly of essays and poetry from some of the world's most celebrated independent thinkers, leading artists, and up-and-coming literary voices.

The Russian Album

release date: Jan 06, 2015
The Russian Album
Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Award In The Russian Album, Michael Ignatieff chronicles five generations of his Russian family, beginning in 1815. Drawing on family diaries, on the contemplation of intriguing photographs in an old family album, and on stories passed down from father to son, he comes to terms with the meaning of his family's memories and histories. Focusing on his grandparents, Count Paul Ignatieff and Princess Natasha Mestchersky, he recreates their lives before, during, and after the Russian Revolution.

The Needs of Strangers

release date: Jan 06, 2015
The Needs of Strangers
This thought provoking book uncovers a crisis in the political imagination, a wide-spread failure to provide the passionate sense of community "in which our need for belonging can be met." Seeking the answers to fundamental questions, Michael Ignatieff writes vividly both about ideas and about the people who tried to live by them-from Augustine to Bosch, from Rousseau to Simone Weil. Incisive and moving, The Needs of Strangers returns philosophy to its proper place, as a guide to the art of being human.

The Lesser Evil

release date: Dec 03, 2013
The Lesser Evil
Must we fight terrorism with terror, match assassination with assassination, and torture with torture? Must we sacrifice civil liberty to protect public safety? In the age of terrorism, the temptations of ruthlessness can be overwhelming. But we are pulled in the other direction too by the anxiety that a violent response to violence makes us morally indistinguishable from our enemies. There is perhaps no greater political challenge today than trying to win the war against terror without losing our democratic souls. Michael Ignatieff confronts this challenge head-on, with the combination of hard-headed idealism, historical sensitivity, and political judgment that has made him one of the most influential voices in international affairs today. Ignatieff argues that we must not shrink from the use of violence--that far from undermining liberal democracy, force can be necessary for its survival. But its use must be measured, not a program of torture and revenge. And we must not fool ourselves that whatever we do in the name of freedom and democracy is good. We may need to kill to fight the greater evil of terrorism, but we must never pretend that doing so is anything better than a lesser evil. In making this case, Ignatieff traces the modern history of terrorism and counter-terrorism, from the nihilists of Czarist Russia and the militias of Weimar Germany to the IRA and the unprecedented menace of Al Qaeda, with its suicidal agents bent on mass destruction. He shows how the most potent response to terror has been force, decisive and direct, but--just as important--restrained. The public scrutiny and political ethics that motivate restraint also give democracy its strongest weapon: the moral power to endure when the furies of vengeance and hatred are spent. The book is based on the Gifford Lectures delivered at the University of Edinburgh in 2003.

Fire and Ashes

release date: Nov 19, 2013
Fire and Ashes
In 2005 Michael Ignatieff left Harvard to lead Canada's Liberal Party and by 2008 was poised to become Prime Minister. It never happened. He describes what he learned from his bruising defeat about compromise and the necessity of bridging differences in a pluralist society. A reflective, compelling account of modern politics as it really is.

Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry

release date: Dec 28, 2011
Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry
Michael Ignatieff draws on his extensive experience as a writer and commentator on world affairs to present a penetrating account of the successes, failures, and prospects of the human rights revolution. Since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, this revolution has brought the world moral progress and broken the nation-state's monopoly on the conduct of international affairs. But it has also faced challenges. Ignatieff argues that human rights activists have rightly drawn criticism from Asia, the Islamic world, and within the West itself for being overambitious and unwilling to accept limits. It is now time, he writes, for activists to embrace a more modest agenda and to reestablish the balance between the rights of states and the rights of citizens. Ignatieff begins by examining the politics of human rights, assessing when it is appropriate to use the fact of human rights abuse to justify intervention in other countries. He then explores the ideas that underpin human rights, warning that human rights must not become an idolatry. In the spirit of Isaiah Berlin, he argues that human rights can command universal assent only if they are designed to protect and enhance the capacity of individuals to lead the lives they wish. By embracing this approach and recognizing that state sovereignty is the best guarantee against chaos, Ignatieff concludes, Western nations will have a better chance of extending the real progress of the past fifty years. Throughout, Ignatieff balances idealism with a sure sense of practical reality earned from his years of travel in zones of war and political turmoil around the globe. Based on the Tanner Lectures that Ignatieff delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2000, the book includes two chapters by Ignatieff, an introduction by Amy Gutmann, comments by four leading scholars--K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur, and Diane F. Orentlicher--and a response by Ignatieff.

Blood and Belonging

release date: Jul 08, 2013
Blood and Belonging
With The Warrior's Honor and Virtual War, Blood & Belonging forms part of the acclaimed trilogy by Michael Ignatieff on the face of modern conflict. In 1993 Michael Ignatieff set out on a journey to the former Yugoslavia, the Ukraine, Germany, Quebec, Kurdistan and Northern Ireland in order to explore the many faces of modern nationalism at its worst. Modern nationalism is a language of blood: a call to arms that can end in the horror of ethnic cleansing. But it is also a language of belonging: a call to come home. In Blood & Belonging Michael Ignatieff explores both sides of nationalism in a personal odyssey that begins in the nightmare of the former Yugoslavia and ends with his return to his adopted homeland, Great Britain's disunited kingdom.

True Patriot Love

release date: Jan 01, 2009
True Patriot Love
Issued also in French under title: Terre de nos aeieux.

Charlie Johnson In The Flames

release date: Dec 15, 2010
Charlie Johnson In The Flames
Charlie Johnson is a veteran war correspondent who thinks he has seen it all - until he makes one rash expedition into a war zone in the Balkans. Horrified, he watches as a woman who sheltered him is set on fire. As he tries to save her, he too is caught in the deadly fire that engulfs her. From then on, his life is consumed by the mission to find the man who did it - caught on film by his friend and cameraman Jacek- and once he is set on his journey of revenge, nothing and no one can stop him. Drawing on his own experience of war zones, Michael Ignatieff probes into the damage that blights Charlie's life and threatens to destroy his humanity.

Empire Lite

release date: Nov 16, 2010
Empire Lite
In Empire Lite, Michael Ignatieff explores both sides of what he sees as a new global empire - the imperial and the humanitarian - and argues that the international community has failed to engage intelligently with the problems of nation building in the aftermath of apocalyptic events. The collapse of political order around the world is now seen as a major threat, and a new international order is emerging, one that is crafted to suit American imperial objectives. This presents humanitarian agencies with the dilemma of how to keep their programs from being suborned to imperial interests. Yet they know that it was American air-power that made an uneasy peace and humanitarian reconstruction possible, first in Bosnia, then in Kosovo, and finally in Afghanistan. This is the new world of geopolitics we live in and must try to grasp. The vivid, cogent essays in this book attempt to understand the phenomenon of state collapse and state failure in the world's zones of danger and the gradual emergence of an American led humanitarian empire. Focussing on nation building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, Ignatieff reveals how American military power, European money and humanitarian motive have combined to produce a form of imperial rule for a post-imperial age. Drawing on his own experiences of war zones, and with an extraordinary account of life in Afghanistan, Ignatieff identifies the illusions that make a genuine act of solidarity so difficult and asks what can be done to help people in war-torn societies enjoy the essential right to rule themselves.

The Rights Revolution

release date: Dec 01, 2008
The Rights Revolution
With an updated preface by the author. Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, rights have become the dominant language of the public good around the globe. Indeed, rights have become the trump card in every argument. Long-standing fights for aboriginal rights, the issue of preserving the linguistic heritage of minorities, and same-sex marriage have steered our society into a full-blown rights revolution. This revolution is not only deeply controversial in North America, but is being watched around the world. Are group rights jeopardizing individual rights? When everyone asserts their rights, what happens to responsibilities? Can families survive and prosper when each member has rights? Is rights language empowering individuals while weakening community? Michael Ignatieff confronts these controversial questions head-on in The Rights Revolution, defending the supposed individualism of rights language against all comers. For Ignatieff, believing in rights means believing in politics, believing in deliberation rather than confrontation, compromise rather than violence.

The Warrior's Honour

release date: Jan 01, 2006
The Warrior's Honour
"The Warrior's Honour" is a profound and searching exploration of the troubled connection between the zones of safety and the zones of danger that configure the modern world. Reporting from places where ethnic conflict has become a way of life--from the West Bank to Bosnia, from Afghanistan to central Africa--Ignatieff brings astute analysis and insight to the complexity of the modern world. "Few have probed ethnic conflict more deeply than Michael Ignatieff ... "The Warrior's Honour" combines superior reporting with provocative and troubling insights."-- "The New York Review of Books""""" "Ignatieff is a public intellectual at his journalistic best here, dedicating his academically trained mind to marshalling the facts, interpreting the world, and forcing us to care about horrors we might otherwise not see ... "The Warrior's Honour" enlarges our understanding of the moral dilemmas of global society."-- "The Financial Post" "Ignatieff grounds his painful insights and liberal analysis in a penetrating assemblage of facts, voices, and pathos that is worthy of comparison with the literary reportage of Rebecca West, Edmund Wilson, and Janet Flanner."-- "The Boston Globe"""

Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry:

release date: Feb 16, 2003
Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry:
Michael Ignatieff draws on his extensive experience as a writer and commentator on world affairs to present a penetrating account of the successes, failures, and prospects of the human rights revolution. Based on the Tanner Lectures that Ignatieff delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2000.

Scar Tissue

release date: Nov 07, 2006
Scar Tissue
At the heart of Michael Ignatieff's disquieting novel of a woman's descent into illness are the tangled threads of a family, strained by tragedy yet still tenuously connected. An anguished philosophy professor watches his dying mother's measured steps into the mysterious depths of neurological illness: the misplaced glasses, kitchen catastrophes, and anecdotes told over and over to a family overcome with fearful sympathy. His strenuous efforts to make sense of his mother's suffering lead him to learn all he can about her illness, renewing contact with his neurologist brother in the process. But medical science can do nothing to ease loss, and genetics now routinely predicts destinies that medicine is powerless to avert. More than a tale of isolated tragedy, "Scar Tissue" explores the fragile lines of memory, their configuration in identity, and the ways in which both are at one moment formed and the next shattered. Nominated for the Booker Prize, "Scar Tissue" is an intensely personal novel about family, love in all its guises, and the ultimate triumph of life over loss. Shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize "Ignatieff's novel impresses in its wisdom as much as in its restraint ... This is a rich novel written by a magnanimous writer with an exquisite talent for naturalism."-- "The Times"

Magnum Degrees

release date: Jan 01, 2000
Magnum Degrees
Magnum is a vision of the contemporary world (since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989) by the photographers of Magnum - from Henri Cartier-Bresson to the organisation's newest recruits - presented in a sequence of photo essays.

Isaiah Berlin

release date: Jan 01, 2000
Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin Refused To Write An Autobiography, But He Agreed To Talk About Himself - And So For Ten Years, He Allowed Michael Ignatieff To Interview Him. Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) Was One Of The Greatest And Most Humane Of Modern Philosophers; Historian Of The Russian Intellgentisia Biographer Of Marx, Pioneering Scholar Of The Romantic Movement And Defender Of The Liberal Idea Of Freedom. His Own Life Was Caught Up In The Most Powerful Currents Of The Century. The Son Of A Riga Timber Merchant, He Witnessed The Russian Revolution, Was Plunged Into Suburban School Life And The Ferment Of 1930S Oxford; He Became Part Of The British Intellectual Establishment During The War, He As At The Heart Of Anglo-American Diplomacy In Washington; Afterwards In Moscow He Saw The Grim Despair Of Stalinism. The Book Is Full Of Memorable Meetings - With Virginia Woolf And Sigmund Freud, With Churchill, With Boris Pasternak And Anna Akhmatova. Yet Ignatieff Is Not Afraid To Delve Into Berlin'S Conflicts: His Jewish Idealism, His Deep Aspirations. This Is A Work Of Great Subtelty And Penetration, Exhilarating And Intimate, Powerful And Profound.

United States and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

release date: Jan 01, 2016
United States and the Syrian Refugee Crisis
The refugee and migration crisis is much more than a humanitarian drama. It is also a strategic challenge for the United States. Since 1945 Europe has been America's major strategic ally and most important trading partner. American engagement and support has helped Europe consolidate peace and prosperity on the continent. The United States will be weakened if Europe comes out of the refugee crisis weakened and divided. Thus far, while Europe has buckled under the crisis, America has remained a bystander. This paper argues that it is in America's national interest to help Europe manage and overcome this crisis by lending strong political support to its major European allies, particularly Germany, and by re-asserting its leadership role in refugee resettlement and integration. We propose a plan of action that renews American leadership and supports Europe while strengthening the national security of the United States.
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