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Rising Up and Rising Down
Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means

By William T. Vollmann

     This book is a Vollmann essay; an abridgment of his 3,500 page, seven-volume compendium on violence. It has been called far-seeing, monumental, imaginative, horrific, and without compromise. It is all these things and, to my surprise, this scholarly tome is very readable.

     I doubt that I would even attempt the seven volume version, but this abridgement certainly gives the reader a lot to think about and a system to help you decide when violence is justified, be it war, homicide, revenge, or punishment.

     Mankind has been violent throughout history in wars of mass destruction, in personal vendettas, and in self defense. Vollmann led me through that history, and I followed willingly. His words flow with a magnetic pull of grandiose wisdom that kept me glued to the pages. Having read this book will surely give me new insight into the excuses that people and governments use for killing, and the sovereignty of self. I was so thoroughly entertained by this National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist that I really want to check out Vollmann's fiction...hoping for some equally mesmerizing reading.

The Book

ECC/Harper Collins
November 2004
Nonfiction/Social Issues
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2005
© 2005