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The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers Hardcover – March 1, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0393064810 ISBN-10: 0393064816 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393064816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393064810
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Philosopher and psychoanalyst Sherman brings both perspectives when listening to soldiers sort out their feelings about war, the killing, reintegration into society, and survivor guilt. Sherman focuses on interviews with 40 soldiers—from the Vietnam era through the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—at various points in their military careers and expands her examination to the impact of war on the families of soldiers. Referring to philosophers from Aristotle to Seneca to Epictetus, she explores the moral dilemma of justifying killing in war, struggles with the morality of some wars, the political obfuscation for war, denigration of the enemy, torture of prisoners, the morality of interrogators, and the worries of being held prisoner. On a broader level, Sherman explores the practical need to compartmentalize military and civilian life but the moral need not to compartmentalize so much that humanity is lost. Sherman, who has worked with the military on trauma and ethics issues, offers penetrating portraits of the individual struggles of soldiers and profound insights on aspects of war that civilians rarely consider. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“Starred Review. At a time when suicide rates among veterans is increasing sharply, this empathic examination of ‘the moral weight that soldiers carry on their shoulders’ is essential reading.” (Publishers Weekly)

More About the Author

Nancy Sherman, a distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown,
writes on ethics and military ethics. She served as the first Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy and has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. In her new book The Untold War, she argues that the wounds of war are not simply physical or even psychological injuries, but also moral injuries. The book draws on her training as both a philosopher and psychoanalyst, and is based on interviews with some 40 soldiers, most from the current wars. The Untold War was selected as a recommended "pick" by TIME Magazine and as an "Editors' Choice" by the New York Times. Sherman is also the author of Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind as well as Making a Necessity of Virtue and The Fabric of Character.

Sherman's work on military ethics has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, The San Diego Tribune, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant as well as in many other metropolitan and regional newspapers. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, WB11, FOX news and Bob Abernathy's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. She has been a featured guest on over 50 radio stations nationwide, including NPR's "Diane Rehm Show," "This American Life," and the "Kojo Nnamdi Show." She has also been featured on radio stations abroad, including the Australian Broadcasting Company. Sherman lectures widely at universities, institutes, and war colleges here and abroad. She lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband, Marshall Presser. They have two grown children.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this read for anybody interested in learning more about the psychological effects of war on our soldiers.
Avni Mehta
The reader can enter the mind of the soldier and look into the mind of someone who is doing the actual fighting in foreign countries.
Amanda K. Lo
I agreed to the interviews because of her obvious dedication to getting the story of the Untold War from the soldier's perspective.
Anthony F. Destefano

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Anthony F. Destefano on March 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I met Nancy Sherman at the Malogne House, a former VIP hotel converted to soldiers' quarters for returning OEF/OIF veterans. I agreed to the interviews because of her obvious dedication to getting the story of the Untold War from the soldier's perspective. Despite how hard it may have been to talk about, Dr. Sherman's warmth and genuineness came through during every session. This book tells many stories far more deserving and intense than my own, both accurately and well. Her style takes you back in time to Homer, the Stoics, and incorporates ancient and more recent psychology on war and warriors - the warrior code, the effects of war on the hardened Ranger infantry officer and the young twenty year old sniper. As a reservist there is another dimension. You have a full time commitment mentally and spiritually, but must balance this against the normal rigors of life... until you get the phone call that changes everything. Nancy Sherman understands the dynamic of the dedicated reservist as well as the fully devoted and hardened life-long career soldier. This book should be required reading for anyone sending America's best into harm's way, and just as importantly, welcoming them home again.

MAJ(R) Anthony F. DeStefano
US ARMY Signal Corps
OEF/OIF 2001-2003
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Abbey-Robin Durkin on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
No one says it better than those who have been there, and the reality is that there is a gap between behavioral health providers' experience, both uniformed and civilian, and the opportunities to truly walk in the shoes of our soldiers. Bridging this gap is the book "The Untold War," which is a dramatic culmination of stories from soldiers struggling and forging resolutions for events previously thought to be unspeakable. Dr. Sherman's book is a powerful guide both for clinicians who have never been there, and for those in uniform still trying to find a way to dig themselves out from the seemingly bottomless pit of guilt and demoralization. Abbey-Robin Durkin, Ph.D., Military Psychologist, former US Army Officer.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Slutzker on February 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
We often hear about the physical effects of war on soldiers but rarely do we as a society examine the ethical and moral dimensions of soldiering. The Untold War offers valuable insight into these less tangible struggles and wounds of soldiers. It is an invaluable read and will make you think about war and the individual soldier in a differnt light.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Nisbet on March 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I believe this book sheds light on the enormous weight that soldiers carry throughout their life and the philosophical and psychological fabric that shapes each solider's psyche to cope with the reality of war. Of course, as we are learning, there is no way to measure the toll that war takes on each and every life involved; but especially as a soldier the mental harm is significant aside from any other wounds. In her research, Nancy Sherman presents evidence from philosophy and psychology. She reveals a multidimensional story of the mind of the soldier. Although I am currently studying the psychological effects of war on soldiers, and have a vested interest in this topic; I would recommend this book to anyone interested in military history or personal accounts of war and its effects. All politics aside, this book analyses important issues that need serious attention either by our government, health care system, veterans administration, or universities.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Avni Mehta on February 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a former student of Professor Sherman, I had the opportunity to read this book before it was published and, I must say, it is marvelous. The extensive information compiled here from her interviews of soldiers provides a very in-depth look at the impact of war on the lives of our soldiers. This makes for an insightful lens in studying the impact of war on our nation. I highly recommend this read for anybody interested in learning more about the psychological effects of war on our soldiers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elisa Hurley on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Sherman's The Untold War masterfully weaves together themes from ancient and modern moral philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, and poetry with the very personal voices of the men and women who have served in military uniform; what emerges is a fascinating and deeply insightful exploration of the complex inner life of the soldier. The reader can feel Sherman's deep respect for the individual soldiers she introduces us to throughout the book. She lets them tell their often gut-wrenching stories in their own words, as if she is confident that those words themselves reveal the moral tensions with which soldiers unavoidably struggle, if only we were, collectively, willing to listen and equipped to understand the nature of those tensions. The Untold War is not only a plea for such willingness; it provides us with essential tools for understanding the inner moral terrain involved in becoming a soldier, fighting on the battlefield, and returning to civilian life. The insights of The Untold War seem particularly relevant at a time when the United States military is struggling to deal with unprecedented rates of PTSD, depression, and other psychological injuries amongst personnel returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amanda K. Lo on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
What stood out most for me in The Untold War by Nancy Sherman was the collection of interviews. I thought the interviews included in this book made it a really mind-opening read. It made me more aware of the social burdens that each soldier carries when they go to war. I also became aware of an often neglected issue, which is the fact that soldiers return from war possibly with even heavier burdens. The interviews of soldiers from the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and of retired soldiers from WWII and Vietnam War raised a lot of difficult questions about the ethics of war. The reader can enter the mind of the soldier and look into the mind of someone who is doing the actual fighting in foreign countries. I think that in this way, the book gives voice to the many unspoken struggles about taking responsibility, life and death, right and wrong of US soldiers that needs to be heard.
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