Unmaking War, Remaking Men

Unmaking War, Remaking Men

How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics,
Our Soldiers and Ourselves



“Best Books 2010” Award-Winning Finalist in the Social Change category sponsored by USA Book News


Available now


One day at a beach Kathleen Barry witnessed an accidental death. Seeing how empathy drew together the bystanders – strangers until that moment – in shared human consciousness, she asked: 'Why do we value human lives in everyday moments but accept the killing in war as inevitable?'

In Unmaking War, Remaking Men, Kathleen Barry explores soldiers' experiences through a politics of empathy.   By revealing how men’s lives are made expendable for combat, she shows how military training drives them to kill without thinking and without remorse, only to suffer both trauma and loss of their own souls.  She turns to her politics of empathy to shed new light on the experiences of those who are invaded and occupied and shows how resistance rises among them.

And what of the state leaders and the generals who make war? In 2001, a fateful year for the world, George W. Bush became President of the US; Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister of Israel; and Osama bin Laden became the de facto world terrorist leader. Analyzing their leadership and failure of empathy, Unmaking War, Remaking Men reveals a common psychopathology of those driven to ongoing war, first making enemies, then labeling them as terrorists or infidels.

Kathleen Barry asks: ‘What would it take to unmake war?’ She scrutinizes the demilitarized state of Costa Rica and compares its claims of peace with its high rate of violence against women. She then turns to the urgent problem of how might men remake themselves by unmaking masculinity. She offers models for a new masculinity drawing on the experiences of men who have resisted war and have in turn transformed their lives into a new kind of humanity; into a place where the value of being human counts.

Book Club Discussion Questions (PDF, 84KB)

Unmaking War, Remaking Men - Index (PDF, 52KB)


International Editions

Australia/New Zealand
India: Women Unlimited: http://womenunlimited.net/


Praise for Unmaking War, Remaking Men

War has been an institution of humanity since its creation, but does it always have to be? Unmaking War, Remaking Men discusses the future of war and how Kathleen Barry feels that in the future, war will become less and less of an option as diplomatic measures become more and more advanced. Stating that human life shouldn't be considered expendable, Unmaking War, Remaking Men is a thoughtful read with plenty to think about, highly recommended.
—Midwest Book Review (as posted on Amazon.com / 5-Star review)

Kathleen Barry's latest book, Unmaking War, Remaking Men, brings a welcome feminist perspective to war and peace.... Barry's empathy interrogates the fault lines at which particular constructions of gender hurt us all, from the rape and murder of female GIs, to the lives lost across decades of middle eastern wars, to the trauma of returned service men who have been trained out of their humanity, yet still seek to cling to it. Unmaking War, Remaking Men reminds us that this is what the best feminism should do: keep listening, keep talking on the uphill walk.
—Overland Blog (Full Review)

Unmaking War, Remaking Men is a fascinating work by US feminist activist and sociologist Kathleen Barry, which explores traditional constructs of masculinity, and the role they play in military training.... a highly researched, thought-provoking book that doesn't shy away from hard topics and raises a lot of interesting points worth considering if we wish to part of a world that promotes peace.
—Aduki Independent Press (Full Review )

In a world where Arabs are often being demonized, it is soothing to read a book by such a fine Western intellectual with so much empathy who offers us a unique perspective on how we could untangle the knots of an explosive situation. A must for anyone trying to find solutions to war. —Evelyne Accad, Sexuality and War: Literary Masks of the Middle East

“With the courageous vision, scrupulous scholarship, and heartfelt writing that has illumined her books on female sexual slavery, Kathleen Barry here focuses her laser-like intelligence on violence, militarism, and core masculinity. Unmaking War, Remaking Men makes the connections that could save us all. Ignore this book at your peril.”
—Robin Morgan

“How can we end war if we don’t understand the makings of war? Kathleen Barry's Unmaking War, Remaking Men is a remarkable blend of history, current war-making and soul-searching that unravels the very structures of war. Her fascinating questions--ranging from "Why don't the Geneva Conventions protect the rights of combatants?" to "Why are women in the peaceful nation of Costa Rica subjected to outrageous levels of masculine violence?"--lead to her analysis that the unmaking of war requires the rehumanization of men. Read it, get energized and join us in Barry’s ultimate challenge: replacing the paradigm of war with a paradigm of shared human consciousness based on empathy.” 
—Medea Benjamin, cofounder, CODEPINK and Global Exchange

“Empathy. Yes, empathy is such a strong concept, and such a strong civic value. Kathleen Barry shows in her book how empathy threatens those who promote the militarization of masculinity while simultaneously providing an antidote. She has done deep thinking—thinking that all of us will be made smarter by!”
—Cynthia Enloe, Globalization & Militarism

“In an era of perpetual war, Kathleen Barry asks the important questions: how do we learn and teach violence, and what does killing do both to us and our society? A provocative, impassioned and necessary exploration of a topic too often cloaked by euphemisms and evasions.”
—Jeff Sparrow, Killing: Misadventures in Violence



Chapter 1 The Value of Human Life

Chapter 2 Making Men Expendable

Chapter 3 Remorseless Killers: Military Training

Chapter 4 First Kill: The Soldier’s Loss of Soul

Chapter 5 Preventive Killing

Chapter 6 Grunts: From Soldier to Sociopath

Chapter 7 Psychopathic Leadership Versus the Politics of Empathy

Chapter 8 Making Enemies – Humiliating Men

Chapter 9 Ongoing War

Chapter 10 Colluding in Preparatory War, Lebanon 2006

Chapter 11 "No One Understands!"

Chapter 12 Unmaking War

Chapter 13 Remaking Men, Reknowing Ourselves




Press Release

Unmaking War, Remaking Men Press Release - (PDF, 115KB)





Photo credits: Statue on Martyr's Square, Beirut, Lebanon © FunkMonk