Jean Elshtain examines how the myths of Man as "Just Warrior" and Woman as "Beautiful Soul" serve to recreate and secure women's social position as noncombatants and men's identity as warriors. Elshtain demonstrates how these myths are undermined by the reality of female bellicosity and sacrificial male love, as well as the moral imperatives of just wars.
Refusing to accept the inevitability of war, Elshtain, a political scientist who teaches a course on war and peace, disputes theorists from the Greeks to Michael Walzer (Just and Unjust Wars, 1977). Using an impressive range of literary, historical, and mythological examples, she examines the rhetoric and iconography of war. She classifies the assigned or adopted roles of women from Minerva to the Greenham Common women, from Spartan mother to warrior to victim. Finally, she proposes a leap of imagination, a search for new alternatives to the war/peace dichotomy. Elshtain does not argue that the world would be better if women ran it; she does insist upon the responsibility of women and men, as citizens, to reflect on history and experience, to find new forms of civic virtue, and not to leave everything to the experts. A challenging book of the first importance which should be in most libraries. Mary Drake McFeely, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens