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Desertion And the American Soldier: 1776-2006 Paperback – May 30, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0875864525 ISBN-10: 087586452X
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Editorial Reviews


The government has [traditionally] defined military desertion as an act of treason and cowardice. Fantina, himself a peace activist, surveys this topic in concise detail from the American Revolution to the current war in Iraq. Drawing on extensive research, he weighs the political, social, and economic conditions of each conflict, as well as its daily horrors as described by common soldiers (in published sources). Fantina concludes that government policies against deserters exist merely to control soldiers and shape public opinion. He has taken a complicated subject and presented it in a readable format, albeit demonstrating an acknowledged bias against the government's handling of Vietnam and Iraq. After the 2004 election, the author moved to Canada, where he now resides. Specialized and general collections might wish to consider this for purchase. --David Alperstein, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY for CHOICE MAGAZINE

Throughout history, governments have sought to portray deserters from their wars as cowardly and traitorous and the American government is certainly no exception. In examining the motivations of American military deserters from the Revolutionary War to the US occupation of Iraq and analyzing the political purposes of the government's response to deserters, this work exposes that characterization as a falsehood, demonstrating that desertion is usually a response to policy, whether it is the larger policy of the war itself or simply the perception of injustice within the military system itself. The government's treatment of deserters, the author additionally argues, is aimed both at keeping soldiers in line and at maintaining support from the population at large. --booknews

About the Author

Robert Fantina is a long-time activist for peace and social justice. He has worked with the Coalition for Peace Action in New Jersey. Originally involved in the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign in 2004, he eventually worked as a district organizer through MoveOn.org on the Kerry campaign in Florida. Following the 2004 presidential election, he moved to Canada, where he now resides.

Fantina says, "My interest in military desertion dates to the Vietnam era and my protests against that war. More recently I have been in contact with deserters and have researched their stories. In reviewing interviews with these men and researching the government's case against each of them, my beliefs about desertion have crystallized. This led me to explore the reasons for desertion throughout America's history. My belief that the motivations for desertion are many and complex, and are either rooted in or encouraged by military policy, has been supported by my research."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Algora Publishing (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087586452X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875864525
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,792,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Fantina is an activist and journalist, working for peace and social justice. While living in the U.S., he actively supported gun control, and opposed the war in Iraq, prior to and following the U.S. invasion of that country. Shortly after the 2004 presidential election he moved to Canada. While living in Whitehorse (Yukon Territory), he wrote 'Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 - 2006.'
He is also the author of the novel, 'Look Not Unto the Morrow,' a Vietnam-era, anti-war love story.
His most recent book is entitled, 'Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy'.
He is currently active in supporting the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people.
Mr. Fantina now resides in Kitchener, Ontario. Visit his web page at http://robertfantina.com/.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wanda Eisenman on November 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book provides much needed discussion on what has always been a heated political/emotional issue - desertion from the military. While desertion has commonly been attributed to cowardice and lack of moral character, Robert Fantina thoughtfully discusses the larger issues, physical and emotional, that would compel a soldier to go AWOL. Some causes that stand out include: substandard supplies and lodging, inferior leadership, and personal disagreement with how the war is being conducted. Causes that are less obvious to the public,but no less deadly, include mistreatment of the soldier by the military itself.

Fantina documents the causes of desertion in each of the major conflicts through US history. Included are extracts from letters of soldiers who chose to desert, and details of the subsequent treatment of these men and women. These stories are not included in our general history texts; and as such, an important face of war, namely the cost to our soldiers, is never fully discussed.

This book brings a needed human face to a popular, but politically driven caricature Understanding the causes of desertion, is not an easy thing to come to grips with. But if we are to better understand the situation of all our soldiers past and present, we must look beyond the propaganda and see the nitty gritty details of their lives.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Albert James on July 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I know this book was coming and looked forward to it with great anticipation. Fortunaley I was not disappointed.

I knew little of nor had considered desertion from any military. Fantina offers some well thought out insights into what, beyond the reasons the powers that be give, my motivate someone to leave military service. Fantina does it by chronicling all the major wars of the US military.

The book is quick and to the point. The writing on what could be a very dry topic is not dry but quite an accessable read.

If he wrote the book to get the reader to think about the military and its role in a democratic society Fantina succeeded.
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