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From Vol. 1, Issue 3, March 2019

You will not have my hate

Book Review || Editor

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This is a beautifully written book. 

Poignant yet courageous, heart-wrenching yet compassionate, You Will not Have My Hate is a manifesto of a free man who chooses his reaction to the horror he faced on a Friday night. It is a reaction that I suspect most of us—Stoics or not—would find it hard to manifest. 

On Friday, November 13, 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks shook Paris. Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks, including a mass shooting at an Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theater, where 89 people were killed. Among the victims was the young mother of 17-month-old Melvil, whose father, Antoine Leiris, is the author of this book. 

You Will Not Have My Hate (originally published in French under the title Vous n'aurez pas ma haine) shares the author's thoughts during the following 12 days until the day after the funeral of his wife, Helene. This is a short book that can be read in an hour or two. It is hard to summarize the book because of its lyrical nature. 

Antoine Leiris, while claiming that he has neither forgotten nor forgiven, has this to say to the terrorist who “stole the life of an exceptional being,” the love of his life and the mother of his child: 

“No, I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you … To respond to your hate with anger would be to yield to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be scared … You have failed. I will not change … This little boy [his son] will defy you by being happy and free. Because you will not have his hate either.” 

Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, said that “Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” I always wondered how feasible it is to think that we “choose our reaction” when a major tragedy strikes us. Leiris provides an answer. 

Marcus Aurelius said, “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” Buddha said that hatred is never ended by hatred. Most of us perhaps will agree with these ideas. But how many of us can follow them? Apparently, Leiris can. 

Leiris’ thoughts are a testament to what wise people have been saying over the ages. You Will Not Have My Hate is an uplifting book, an antidote to the endless barrage of violence and anger that seems to be enveloping our world at this time. 

Antoine Leiris. You Will Not Have My Hate. Penguin 2016 144pp. (Reviewed by Chuck Chakrapani)