In Against Remembrance, David Rieff provocatively argues that the business of remembrance, particularly of the great tragedies of the past, are policitised events of highly selective memory. Rather than ending injustices, as we expect it to, collective memory in so many cases dooms us to an endless cycle of vengeance. Humanity, he says, simply cannot cope with the true ambivalence of historical events. And if we remember only partially, how can our memories serve us, or our society, as well as we hope?
David Rieff is a New York-based journalist and author. Now a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, he has written extensively for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, El Pais, The New Republic, World Affairs, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs and The Nation. During the 1990s, he covered conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia. He is the author of eight books, including Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West and A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis. His memoir of his mother, Susan Sontag's, final illness, Swimming in a Sea of Death, was published in January 2008.