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Why We Fight

New Approaches to the Human Dimension of Warfare

edited by Robert C. Engen, H. Christian Breede & Allan English

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2020
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2020
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2020
    List Price

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For decades, the Canadian Armed Forces has used the work of foreign scholars and writers in its professional military education to try to understand the human dimension of warfare: why and how people are motivated to fight, and how they behave once they do fight. Yet the specific Canadian context, experience, and perspective are often lost in favour of appeals to universal truths. The first major Canadian study of combat motivation in almost forty years, Why We Fight redresses this imbalance by presenting some of the best new work on the subject. Bringing together top military practitioners and scholars to discuss some of the most controversial issues of modern warfare, Why We Fight examines the face of battle as experienced by Canadians. It explores sexual violence in war, professionalism, organizations, leadership, shared intent, motivation in extremis, and the toxicity of the "warrior" culture. Its chapters offer key insights on combat motivation theories, the modern operating environment, and the collective and individual identities of the men and women who fight for Canada. Many worry that technology is leading us towards a post-human age, particularly in war. Why We Fight affirms the centrality of the human being in warfare in Canada's past, present, and future.

About the authors

Robert C. Engen is assistant professor in the Department of Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College and the author of Strangers in Arms: Combat Motivation in the Canadian Army, 1943-1945.

Robert C. Engen's profile page

H. Christian Breede is associate professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, a serving infantry officer, co-editor of Going to War? Trends in Military Interventions, author of The Idea of Failed States, and editor of Culture and the Solder.

H. Christian Breede's profile page

Allan English is adjunct professor, history, Queen's University, has taught warfare theory and history at the Canadian Forces College, Toronto, and is the author of Understanding Military Culture: A Canadian Perspective. Richard Gimblett is command his

Allan English's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Why We Fight offers a rich, wide-ranging discussion of combat motivation, in both historical and contemporary contexts, demonstrating how historical and current studies can shed light on contemporary challenges and debates within the Canadian Forces." Geoffrey Hayes, University of Waterloo

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