"The Politics and Ethics of Identity: In Search of Ourselves" by Richard Ned Lebow
Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 28.1 (Spring 2014)
The Politics and Ethics of Identity: In Search of Ourselves, Richard Ned Lebow (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 431 pp., $103 cloth, $34.99 paper.
Review by Alan Wolfe
The Politics and Ethics of Identity dazzles the reader with its ambition and erudition. Its theme is grand: nearly all the claims made by social theorists emphasizing the importance of identity are wrong because human beings and the associations they create, including nation-states, can do without it. Its breadth is startling, and includes brilliant textual analyses of, among other things, Greek epic poetry, the operas of Mozart, Germany’s search for a classical past, the contemporary conservative Christian book series Left Behind, and science fiction. If all this is not enough, it also contains important theoretical discussions of the nature of narrative and the question of whether modernity implies a sharp break with the past.
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