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4.0 out of 5 stars A Study of Brotherhood More Than War, February 25, 2012
This review is from: War (Hardcover)
With "The Perfect Storm," Sebastain Junger crafted a harrowing and heartbreaking story of men in danger--cut off and reliant on one another for survival. It is the ultimate non-fiction story of man versus nature, and as we know, that's not always a fair fight. It is, quite literally, one of my favorite books. So it is with much excitement that I picked up Junger's "War," a document relating his personal experiences as a reporter while being embedded with American soldiers in Afghanistan. Junger has already enjoyed success on this topic in a series of articles as well as a documentary film "Restrepo" (an award winner at this year's Sundance). I thought if anyone could understand the hearts of men in conflict it would be Junger. And "War" does prove to be a fascinating and intimate look at how individuals come together to form a collective unit.

One of the pleasures of "War" is its surprisingly apolitical agenda. Anyone hoping that this book is a comprehensive examination of the American presence in Afghanistan will need to look elsewhere. Junger wants to keep things at a more personal level and "War" is really his homage to those on the front lines. Much like "The Perfect Storm," it is a study of camaraderie and brotherhood under extreme circumstances. Junger does an amazing job capturing the specifics of what it was like to be stationed in the Afghani conflict. From the battles to the boredom, this is an unflinching look at the realities of modern warfare. Along the way, Junger also studies the sociological and psychological influences present. It is the unusual and extraordinary bonding within the group that leads to altruism and, ultimately, heroism (although the men themselves never consider their acts heroic).

As much as I admired "War," however, there was an element that kept me distanced as well. Junger's intent to honor the soldiers he knew and lived with is evident--but, unfortunately, the men aren't really distinguished as individuals. In "The Perfect Storm," the power and majesty of the action is enhanced by the full-bodied and thoroughly three dimensional portraits of the men involved. That's how I wanted to get to know these soldiers as well. But aside from one or two instances, we might admire or be intrigued by what someone has said or done--but we never fully get to know them. It's what keeps "War" from being a truly great book, in my opinion. Still, Junger's "War" is a compelling look at male bonding. Told from an unusual and refreshing angle, "War" is a noteworthy look into a situation that many of us have only seen from afar. KGHarris, 5/10.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The human toll of war, September 29, 2013
This review is from: War: Ein Jahr im Krieg (German Edition) (Kindle Edition)
Sebastian Junger's description of the youung men who go to war is perhaps the most compelling I've ever read. The men are forever changed by their participation in battle. Like a drug it seduces some and ruins others, but none escape it's grip. Instead of focusing on the big geopolitical questions, Junger delves into the lives of the individual warrior and gives the reader an understanding of the devasting toll that war inflicts on our young men who fight our battles. The book should be required reading for the politicians who willingly send them into harms way. Having read many books on war from the Crimean to the present, I would recommend Junger's book to anyone interested in the subject of modern warfare. Even the author, though he didn't carry a weapon, was left with invisible scars from his experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loss upon Loss, July 29, 2013
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This review is from: War: Ein Jahr im Krieg (German Edition) (Kindle Edition)
Sebastian Junger paints the war in Afghanistan in vivid anecdotes of the men who served in the Korengal Valley, trying to protect tiny outposts from an often unseen enemy. Like the documentary film, "Restrepo," Junger gets to know the men of the platoon with whom he is embedded. He sees their boredom, their heartbreak, their humor. Above all, he helps the reader understand what it means to be a fellow soldier, a brother-in-arms. The men have a hard time when they go on leave or have finished their tour of duty. Nothing is the same in the States where their struggle is a 30 second news talking point. The carnage from IEDs and the subsequent all-encompassing hyper-consciousness does not disappear once the troops have come home. They cannot bond with families as they have bonded with the men with whom they have shared life and death.

I have never understood war. Junger educates in this book with both history and minute-by-minute accounts of the front. This should be required reading for high school kids and also Congress and the Chiefs of Staff. When will we say "never again" to war?
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4.0 out of 5 stars More on Brotherhood and the Psychology of Battles and Fighting, June 5, 2013
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This review is from: War: Ein Jahr im Krieg (German Edition) (Kindle Edition)
Sebastian Junger the author displays his own bravery while being embedded with small units of isolated infantry in Afghanistan surrounded by by mostly unseen gorilla combatants. These small Army infantry are units described as the "speartip", of what is yet another chaotic mission, our "war" in Afghanistan. The more you read the more incredible the whole mess seems, with the outcome yet another US withdrawl and loss of lives with no gain to Afghani's or US interests.

Junger I believe has experienced the most personally dangerous conditions of his many years of war and conflict journalism. The book accurately points out of that despite our advanced high tech equipment that is propagandized to be battlefield changing, actual battle essentially boils down to the very individual human element of will to win and to endure of the hardships presented.

For readers of this book who enjoy the nitty gritty details of the danger and frustration that are the life of infantry soldiers everywhere, the pulse of the battle and more generally of war at the enlisted level I heartily recommend "With the Old Breed" by Eugene B. Sledge and "Matterhorn" by Karl Malantes. "Old Breed" is an outstanding true life journal of actual Marine battles in the Pacific during WW2. Matterhorn is a thinly disguised novel of small units of Marines near the North Vietnamese border in Vietnam. I believe these books to be a must read to understand humans at war; they are considerably more intense than the Afghanistan experience. Amazing, each generation of American soldier is remarkable and shares the expperience of war in a similar fashion.
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