Ethnic conflict is a pervasive feature of the modern world, yet while there are many studies of the social construction of difference, there are few that deal with the emotional content of ethnic violence. Drawing on sociological and psychoanalytic theory and using comparative examples from other parts of the world, Michael Johnson examines the history of confessional or ethnic identity in Lebanon and the civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s. He demonstrates that far from being residues of a traditional society, the values of ethnic honor and shame are peculiarly modern phenomena. He explains the horrors of ethnic warfare in terms of social threats to patriarchal authority in sexually repressive families. These threats fuel a style of violence in which shame acquires its own dynamics.