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In Tortured, journalist Justine Sharrock brings us an eyewitness account of what it feels like to torture, revealing a huge chasm between what the headlines say about America's torture program and what really happened. Sharrock traveled around the country, talking to the young, low-ranking soldiers who worked at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, documenting the consequences of torture. These soldiers, thinking they would be heroes, followed orders from the top with the assurance that those orders were both legal and noble. Later, they realized that they had committed war crimes. Their experiences left them feeling disillusioned and profoundly betrayed by the very government they had set out to defend. For too long, these soldiers hid their reactions and revelations, silenced by family and friends who were determined to see them as war heroes and by the many Americans who think we should have done even more.
In this shocking and heartbreaking exposé, you'll meet gung-ho Texan Brandon Neely, the first soldier to beat up a detainee at Guantanamo Prison when it opened in 2002, who is only now realizing that what he did was wrong. You'll follow medic Andrew Duffy on his rounds at Abu Ghraib, where he was ordered to "rough up" detainees, was ridiculed for trying to save a prisoner's life, and ended up taking out his anger on the prisoners. Through the eyes of nineteen-year-old private Chris Arendt, you'll come to understand how a Guantanamo soldier can himself feel imprisoned by his inability to say no.
All three of these men now live in the grip of post-traumatic stress disorder. The fourth, Abu Ghraib whistleblower Joe Darby, lives in hiding. After turning over the notorious photos to Army criminal investigators, he received numerous threats from his former friends and neighbors in Cumberland, Maryland, who consider him a traitor to his National Guard unit, the town itself, and the nation at large. Sharrock's interviews with many of Cumberland's angry and desperate residents create a tragic and memorable portrait of crumbling small-town America clinging to the myth of the nation's grandeur. Through these highly personal stories, Sharrock illustrates the larger crisis that the country faces in reconciling its torture policy with its national identity.
The soldiers you'll meet in this regrettably true story never waterboarded anyone. They were not involved with interrogating prisoners. Thoughts of ticking time bombs didn't cross their minds. Their job was to maintain a constant routine of brutality and abuse and to keep detainees in a weakened and, yes, terrorized state. These patriotic young Americans joined the service when their country needed them most, then found themselves to be both the villains and the victims in their own worst nightmares. Should they be tried for war crimes? Or should prosecutors start at the top, with George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld? Read Tortured, then decide.
"Powerful and important. Justine Sharrock talks to soldiers whose patriotic duty was warped by the Bush administration, making torturers out of ordinary men and women. A must-read for all Americans concerned by the corrosive impact of the Bush administration's 'War on Terror' policies on the U.S. military." Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantanamo Files
"An extraordinary book that explores the ugliest underbelly of war. Sharrock takes the discussion of torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo into new territory, delving into the lives of the soldiers on the ground assigned these brutal tasks. Throughout the book, Sharrock maintains a balance between empathy and tough reporting as she examines the anguish and denial of men who participated in what can only be described as acts of evil but who do not believe themselves to be evil." Thomas B. Edsall, political editor, The Huffington PostSee all Editorial Reviews
The author does a tremendous job getting inside the heads of the soldiers forced to perpetrate these intolerable acts of torture on others. Read morePublished on November 12, 2010 by JDLscribe
Justine is a great author and views the world's issues from outside the box. She has a viewpoint to be admired. This book is clear, concise and insightful and a great read. Read morePublished on June 21, 2010 by MG