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Book Review - War

War by Sebastian Junger

Book Review by Bob Schoultz

All American Leadership

To Read More Book Reviews by Bob Schoultz, click here.

Why This Book: I’d read a couple of very good reviews of the book. Mary Anne (my wife) read it and told me I REALLY needed to read this book. She reads a lot and doesn’t ‘gush’ over many books. When she does, I make a point of reading the book she recommends. I haven’t been disappointed yet. She gushed over this one.

My Impressions: This ranks as one of the best books I’ve read on Americans at war. Other excellent books I’ve recently read are The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel and Generation Kill by Evan Wright– both very good on the perspective of men in combat in today’s wars, but Junger’s War is the more thoughtful and analytical. Junger not only lives with his soldiers, goes on patrol with them, and experiences the danger and life-style of the soldiers he’s with (as did Finkel and Wright in preparing for and writing their excellent books), but he also steps back and provides a thoughtful analysis of what he is observing and experiencing. I compare his insights to those of J. Glenn Gray in his book The Warriors – Reflections on Men in Battle – which (from my perspective) is probably the best and most interesting look at men at war – but Gray’s The Warriors is about WW2 – Junger’s War is a look at a single platoon in the most heavily engaged and the most dangerous part of Afghanistan in 2008. He looks at today’s Americans in today’s war with personal, psychological, and philosophical reflections on what he is seeing and experiencing. He looks at the excitement and revulsion of combat, the intensely personal loyalty among these men, the boredom and the terror, and how young men behave without women and the sexual energy that expresses itself in combat. He breaks the book into three sections “Fear,” “Killing,” and “Love.” A friend of mine is a Marine Force Recon platoon commander currently deployed to the Middle East, and he writes me that this book is being avidly read by his Marines. I’d recommend it to anyone who seeks to understand the uniqueness of the combat experience, as experienced by soldiers in today’s military. (Junger’s experience is with an Army platoon, but I’m not sure how relevant that is.)

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