Marcel Berlins

Aye for an Eye for an Eye

Payback: The Case for Revenge

By

University of Chicago Press 314pp £18 order from our bookshop

President Bush, about to launch his country’s retaliation a few weeks after 9/11, was adamant that ‘ours is a nation that does not seek revenge, but we do seek justice’. Was that really true of the American people? Did they make that distinction? Of course not. They wanted to kill the bastards responsible for planning the massacre or in any way associated with it. They wanted revenge. If Bush had been honest, he would not have hidden behind the vague, multipurpose weasel word ‘justice’.

The glib ‘justice, not revenge’ mantra is not confined to leaders of nations. It has spread to the tragically bereaved and to victims of dreadful crimes. To ensure that their motives are seen to be of the highest ethical order, fathers of murdered daughters and women who have undergone vicious rape frequently

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