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Breaking Ranks: Iraq Veterans Speak Out against the War Paperback – August 4, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (August 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520266382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520266384
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book is noteworthy for capturing the multifaceted nature of veterans' experiences and performs a valuable service by providing a vehicle for the circulation of dissenting voices within the military."
(JoonHyun Michael Choi American Anthropologist 2013-12-01) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

"Breaking Ranks eloquently documents the many ways that militarism infiltrates ordinary lives, and is a powerful reminder of the personal costs of war. A model of sensitive and perceptive analysis of oral history interviews, Breaking Ranks reaches its audience on many levels. It is essential reading for anyone concerned about better connecting intellectually and humanly with the current political moment."—Robert A. Rubinstein, The Maxwell School of Syracuse University

"Breaking Ranks is extraordinarily well written, lively and compelling. This is the first book to combine gripping, personal stories of anti-war Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with rigorous academic analysis."—Aaron Glantz, author of The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans

"As Matthew Gutmann and Catherine Lutz show in this timely and important book, soldiers can and do think on their own and come to political and ethical conclusions that often run contrary to what the military might want, expect, or portray. In Breaking Ranks, Gutmann and Lutz give us a valuable addition to our understanding of soldiers, politics, and ethics."—Andrew Bickford, George Mason University

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on September 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Breaking Ranks" by Matthew Gutmann and Catherine Lutz is an exceptional work of cultural anthropology that communicates a powerful, anti-war message. Organizing and contextualizing the experiences of six ordinary individuals into a compelling narrative, the authors succeed in showing how the personal can become the political. Blending studious academic rigor with the drama of live storytelling, this important book deserves special attention.

The book is divided into three sections. 'Innocence' describes the aspirations of six young, working-class adults who enlisted for service in order to improve their lives and to support their country. The authors document the brutal training regimen of boot camp which physically challenges the recruits and begins to raise their ethical consciousness. We follow five recruits who go on to serve in their first missions in relatively light assignments in locations outside Iraq, while one makes the difficult decision to go to Canada once it becomes evident that his next deployment will be to Iraq.

'War's Crucible' shows how the soldier's illusions were thoroughly shattered shortly upon arrival for duty in Iraq. We learn how the constant threat of violence from an unseen enemy and, in the case of the female soldier, from fellow soldiers proves to be deeply distressing. The authors describe how the humanity of the average Iraqi civilian and the realities of the occupation prompt the soldiers to question the meaning and purpose of the war, with a few engaging in small acts of kindness as expressions of autonomy. Perhaps most troubling, the soldiers recall how the often sadistic and criminal behaviors of their comrades were routinely tolerated by U.S. military authorities as so much dirty business as usual.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Bingham on October 28, 2011
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I'm a veteran (too old for Iraq) and I was against our illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq from the beginning. The 6 veterans who give their individual accounts in this book are to be commended for taking a stand. Unfortunately, those in high places who initiate war rarely (in this life) suffer the consequences of their decisions. This book was very captivating and gives a much needed perspective on how individuals in the military are affected by the debacle in Iraq.
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The authors mostly record factual and experiential details of these soldiers lives. They refrain from inserting their own thoughts or biases (beyond the selection of soldiers) and let the reader interpret the soldiers' reactions to the "reality" of training and going to war.
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