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On Art and War and Terror

Alex Danchev

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This collection of Alex Danchev's essays shows us how works of art can help us to explore the most difficult ethical and political issues of our time: war, terror, extermination, torture and abuse.

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Introduction: Out of the Marvellous, or, Scholarship and the Magic Arts
1. The Artist and the Terrorist, or, The Paintable and the Unpaintable: Gerhard Richter and the Baader-Meinhof Group
2. The Face, or, Senseless Kindness: War Photography and the Ethics of Responsibility
3. Provenance, or, Authenticity: The Guitar Player and the Arc of a Life
4. Broomstick Horrors, or, The Fog-Walker in the Wood: Keeping up Appearances in the Great War
5. The Strategy of Still Life, or, Art and Current Affairs: Georges Braque and the Occupation
6. All This Happened, or, The Real Waugh: Sword of Honour and the Literature of the Second World War
7. The Secret Life, or, The Soldier's Tale: Military Diaries
8. Like a Dog, or, Animal House on the Night Shift: Kafka and Abu Ghraib
9. It's All Fucked Up, or, The Non-Fiction Horror Movie: The Cinema and the War on Terror
10. Waiting for the Barbarians, or, The Hospitality of War: Civilization and Barbarism in the War on Terror

About the Author

Alex Danchev (1955–2016) was Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews, and the recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2014-17. He was the author of a number of internationally acclaimed biographies, most recently Cézanne (2012), and an influential collection of essays, On Art and War and Terror (2009). He was also the editor of the best-selling 100 Artists’ Manifestos (2011).


One of the most important books I have had the pleasure to read in a long time... When reading this thoughtful and thought-provoking book terms that come to mind include lucid, illuminating, mesmerizing, all of which are analytically weak but indicative nevertheless of what makes this book such a profound reading experience... The author is not impressed by disciplinary borders: borders are there to be ignored, frontiers are meeting-places. Art thinks. Art makes us think. Art makes us think otherwise. Art helps us make a judgement, a moral judgement.
- Frank Möller, University of Tampere, Millennium: Journal of International Studies
On Art and War and Terror collects Alex Danchev's beautifully lucid and thoughtful essays on the most difficult issues of our age and, in particular, the nature of humanity in times of conflict.
- Karen Shook, Times Higher Education
Book of the Week (September 2009). This collection of essays looks at first sight like one of those books of mostly previously published work that have been hung on a frame to give the impression of unity. But it is, in fact, a much more powerful, united and beautifully strange book than that. While academics are frequently exhorted to aspire to interdisciplinary work, this often boils down to tacking a discussion of a novel on to a piece of historical writing, or making reference to a few events to contextualise a picture. Real interdisciplinary work goes on when there is something unifying and unique beyond, or perhaps below, the academy's usual disciplinary boundaries. This is the case with Alex Danchev's work, and with this book.
- Robert Eaglestone, Times Higher Education
Alex Danchev's series of essays remind us why he is one of the most perceptive and witty scholars writing in Britain today.
- Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph (Reviews Editor)

A deeply learned, far-reaching and thought-provoking book.

- International Affairs
The range of these beautifully crafted essays is often dazzling. At his best, Danchev reveals himself to be a gifted and profound essayist.
- Brian Cheyette, The Independent