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Albert Camus and the Human Crisis

A Discovery and Exploration

A renowned scholar investigates the "human crisis” that Albert Camus confronted in his world and in ours, producing a brilliant study of Camus’s life and influence for those readers who, in Camus's words, “cannot live without dialogue and friendship.”

As France—and all of the world—was emerging from the depths of World War II, Camus summed up what he saw as "the human crisis”:

We gasp for air among people who believe they are absolutely right, whether it be in their machines or their ideas. And for all who cannot live without dialogue and the friendship of other human beings, this silence is the end of the world.

In the years after he wrote these words, until his death fourteen years later, Camus labored to address this crisis, arguing for dialogue, understanding, clarity, and truth. When he sailed to New York, in March 1946—for his first and only visit to the United States—he found an ebullient nation celebrating victory. Camus warned against the common postwar complacency that took false comfort in the fact that Hitler was dead and the Third Reich had fallen. Yes, the serpentine beast was dead, but “we know perfectly well,” he argued, “that the venom is not gone, that each of us carries it in our own hearts.” All around him in the postwar world, Camus saw disheartening evidence of a global community revealing a heightened indifference to a number of societal ills. It is the same indifference to human suffering that we see all around, and within ourselves, today.

Camus’s voice speaks like few others to the heart of an affliction that infects our country and our world, a world divided against itself. His generation called him “the conscience of Europe.” That same voice speaks to us and our world today with a moral integrity and eloquence so sorely lacking in the public arena.

Few authors, sixty years after their deaths, have more avid readers, across more continents, than Albert Camus. Camus has never been a trend, a fad, or just a good read. He was always and still is a companion, a guide, a challenge, and a light in darkened times. This keenly insightful story of an intellectual is an ideal volume for those readers who are first discovering Camus, as well as a penetrating exploration of the author for all those who imagine they have already plumbed Camus’ depths—a supremely timely book on an author whose time has come once again.

Robert Emmet Meagher is Professor of Humanities, Hampshire College, Amherst. His publishing career includes many books, translations, and original plays, most recently Herakles Gone Mad: Rethinking Heroism in an Age of Endless War and War and Moral Injury. For many years he has served in a range of veteran-focused programs aimed at understanding and healing soldiers with PTSD. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Praise for Robert Emmet Meager’s War and Moral Injury:

"An invaluable guide on the path to a fuller understanding of Moral Injury.”

– David Wood, Pulitzer Prize journalist and author of What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars

"This brilliant, timely, and compelling collection on the experience of war sheds urgently needed light on the moral 'wounds' of our combat veterans and how we, our society, and especially faith organizations can reach out to assist them in their time of need."

– John Scott, Major General (USA Retired), Deacon, Roman Catholic Church

"This book is a tremendous contribution to understanding moral injury, an impact of war largely unseen through ignorance or design. It should compel us individually and as nations to tackle mythologies contrived to glorify wars at the cost of the moral wellbeing of those sent to fight them.”

– Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize, Founding Coordinator, International Campaign to Ban Landmines

"War and Moral Injury is not only a work from the conscience, but from the heart. This earnest and moving collection gives us a much-needed view of what it is to be human in the face of war, of how we are not made to kill, and of how doing so injures the human soul. A stunning and essential book."

– Helen Benedict, Columbia University, author of Wolf Season, Sand Queen, and The Lonely Soldier