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Stegenga, J.A. (1974). The War Makers., Douglas Waitley. Washington, D.C.: Robert B. Luce, 1971. 302 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(2):321-323.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(2):321-323

The War Makers., Douglas Waitley. Washington, D.C.: Robert B. Luce, 1971. 302 pp.

Review by:
James A. Stegenga

Usually I'd agree with whoever it was that suggested that the hottest corner of hell should be reserved for the reviewer who complains that an author should have written a different book. But promises ought to be kept, too; and Waitley could have fulfilled his promise only by writing a much different work.

In a too short introduction, he begins by setting forth the provocative but by now familiar hypothesis that wars plague us because the insecure but pugnacious men who naturally scramble into top governmental positions must lead their peoples into wars in order to enhance their own exaggerated personal status needs. Following Konrad Lorenz and Robert Ardrey, Waitley suggests that his historical chapters chronicling twentieth-century wars will “clearly demonstrate the facts that they have proven in the biological field” (p. 16). Far from having “proven” anything, of course, Lorenz and Ardrey (and others) have suggested a controversial hypothesis which it would have been helpful to see tested against the recent historical record. It would even have been useful to see how (and how well) a committed supporter of the theory would have selected, arranged, and interpreted the facts in a self-consciously biased effort to support the theory.

Unfortunately, Waitley almost wholly abandons his promising beginning and gives us instead only a straightforward historical narrative of twentieth-century wars of the sort we already have in abundance. When he ventures occasionally to analyze, his explanations of the war in question focus on the typical economic, geographical, and ideological factors he had himself airily dimissed in his introduction; personality variables are no more highlighted here than they are in standard history texts.

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