Each war has its signature wound, and in America's latest wars, it carries the prefix "poly," writes Glasser (Another War, Another Peace), a former U.S. Army Medical Corp major . In this deftly written and researched account, he explains that because so many more soldiers survive their wounds today than did in Vietnam, they often suffer from multiple injuries requiring "poly-trauma units." Glasser describes how improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq blow off limbs, wreak havoc on internal organs, and cause devastating concussive brain damage--the signature injuries of our new wars. Glasser points out that today's wars with new weapons, new injuries, and new treatments all add up to "new suffering" for soldiers. He also focuses on the "Band of Sisters" in the new wars whose major cause of PTSD once was sexual harassment and now is combat. The weight of Glasser's research is compelling. But his powerful telling of these wounded warriors' stories is more than enough reason for a nation to read and react. (June)
Ronald Glasser's book is an argument for a choice between two stark, inescapable courses of action: call up a national draft and put everything we've got into the fight, or withdraw our forces from Southwest and Central Asia -- or to use his phrase, the "Edge of Empire." The paradigm shift between our presence in Indochina and our multiplex of wars these days is best reflected by the fact that the enemy used to shoot. Today, soldiers get blown up. And that is a fundamental difference, Dr. Glasser says. It seems that this veteran Army medic takes the image of exploded bodies as a larger metaphor for what is going on: everything is blowing up in our face and we have no plan.
One decade after the beginning of a global war of undefined scope and duration against a protean foe that could hardly care less about the next American election cycle, the United States as a society is not at war -- only its allegedly all-volunteer Armed Forces and military families who have carried the entire burden for this Ten Years War, what some have called a crusade against evil that may simply be freedom enduring the sweeping dust over the "Graveyard of Empires." Since the weight of the fight is almost entirely borne by a sliver of the population, Glasser raises the question of a draft directly and forcefully. He writes that "even after a decade of fighting, with the volu --Publishers Weekly
Pediatrician Glasser, whose best-selling 1971 memoir, 365 Days, recounted his experiences as an army physician during the Vietnam era, updates his earlier observations with this disturbing exploration of the medical aspects of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, where explosives are the enemies' weapons of choice. Survivors of these improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombs may suffer massive injuries, amputations, and brain damage, requiring years, if not lifetimes, of expensive treatment. Other explosive injuries to the brain are subtle and difficult to detect without advanced imaging equipment. Glasser argues convincingly that the effects of surviving repeated shock waves contribute to soldiers' and veterans' high rates of prescription drug addiction, suicide, and debilitating post-traumatic stress syndrome. The tragic human cost of such injuries is paralleled by our mounting financial obligation to provide lifelong care for the ever-growing number of returning soldiers. VERDICT Glasser writes with a passion that challenges those who might wish to avoid the harsh medical and social costs of current warfare. General readers will find themselves engrossed in his accounts of the spirit, creativity, and heroism of our soldiers and the medics, nurses, and physicians who care for them.
-Kathy Arsenault, St. Petersburg, FL
About the Author
An American doctor and author, most famous for his bestselling book "365 Days," the preeminent Vietnam War book reviewed in the Washington Monthly and the New York Times. 365 Days has been translated into nine languages and is widely read.He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Medical School and is a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota.