essay_i consider James Hillman’s “A Terrible Love of War” an indispensable part of my library, now more than ever. I write this as a New Yorker on the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 and when America is embarking on another war in the Middle East, this time against the terrorist group ISIS. And it’s precisely at times like these, with the war drums sounding in concert with our righteous disgust of those who would be-head, stone and enslave others that more reflective voices are needed. I know of no better messenger of psychological truth that Hillman, a prickly, wise and post-Jungian truth-teller, who slows things down and reminds us of our collective folly. Hillman reminds us that war has been with us as long and recorded history. He writes that war is normal, sublime and inhuman. Hillman states that to initiate a war we don’t even really need an enemy. He refers to the “idea of an enemy, a phantom enemy. It is not the enemy that is essential to war and forces wars upon us, but the imagination. Imagination is a driving force, especially when imagination has been preconditioned by the media, education, and religion, and fed with aggressive boosterism and pathetic pieties by the states needs for enemies. The imagined phantom swells and clouds the horizon, we cannot see the enemy.” Hillman seems even more emphatic, playing to his strength, in the chapter titled “Religion is War.” “Ceremonies of military service, the coercion by and obedience to a supreme command, the confrontation of death in battle as a late rite on earth, war’s promise of transcendence and its sacrificial love, the test of all human virtues and the presence of all human evils, the slaughter of blood victims, impersonally, collectively, in the name of a higher cause and blessed by the ministers of several faith—all drive home the conclusion that ‘War is religion.’” But for Hillman, that above observation takes us only half-way. More crucial is his proposition that religion is also war. He observes that myths never insist gods are real but a monotheistic Christianity does. In World War II this god was a co-pilot on bombing runs; in World War I clergy dressed Jesus in kaki and had him firing a machine gun. Douglas MacArthur, a supreme commander, spoke to the U.S. Congress about conquest and conversion. The author summarizes: “In the trenches of World War I French, German, Russian, Italian, English, Scottish, Irish, Austrian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Canadian, and American—to name a few—engaged in killing each other, invoked the name of the one and the same god.” Hillman is necessarily reading, especially now, given the medieval enemy the country faces. America is most vulnerable and dangerous when we are self-righteous and comfortable in our hubris. “The Terrible Love of War” is a timely and necessary counterweight.