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What Every Person Should Know About War [Kindle Edition]

Chris Hedges
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $8.68
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

Acclaimed New York Times journalist and author Chris Hedges offers a critical -- and fascinating -- lesson in the dangerous realities of our age: a stark look at the effects of war on combatants. Utterly lacking in rhetoric or dogma, this manual relies instead on bare fact, frank description, and a spare question-and-answer format. Hedges allows U.S. military documentation of the brutalizing physical and psychological consequences of combat to speak for itself.

Hedges poses dozens of questions that young soldiers might ask about combat, and then answers them by quoting from medical and psychological studies.
• What are my chances of being wounded or killed if we go to war?
• What does it feel like to get shot?
• What do artillery shells do to you?
• What is the most painful way to get wounded?
• Will I be afraid?
• What could happen to me in a nuclear attack?
• What does it feel like to kill someone?
• Can I withstand torture?
• What are the long-term consequences of combat stress?
• What will happen to my body after I die?

This profound and devastating portrayal of the horrors to which we subject our armed forces stands as a ringing indictment of the glorification of war and the concealment of its barbarity.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"This book is a manual on war. There is no rhetoric. There are very few adjectives," Hedges proclaims in his introduction to this graphic primer. Framed as a question-and-answer manual for GIs, not "every person," the book gives perfunctory information about military social life, pay, housing and housekeeping (a "central latrine will be established for multiple camps"). But the bulk of it is concerned with battlefield carnage, madness and pathos. A gristly chapter on "Weapons and Wounds" details the bodily effects of artillery shells, incendiaries and several types of bullets. Questions like "What does it feel like to kill someone?" (exhilaration, then remorse) and sections on post-traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks probe the psychic wounds of war. A chapter on "Dying" covers topics like "Will I be frozen in the position in which I die?" ("You can be straightened out after rigor mortis has set") and "What will my last words be?" ("Many call for their mothers"). War correspondent Hedges, author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (whose introductory paragraphs look a lot like their counterparts in this volume), presents this anxiety-provoking information as a grimly factual account of the true face of war-culled from "medical, psychological, and military studies"-that America shies away from in favor of sanitized myths of glory and heroism. He fails to note that depictions of gore, mayhem, psychological trauma and flashbacks have become staples of Hollywood's treatment of war even as such experiences have become less common in America's high-tech, casualty-averse military. Americans, soldiers and civilians both, could use a clear-eyed analysis of modern warfare, but this limited treatment doesn't yet provide one.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Chris Hedges was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New
York Times
, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science
Monitor
and National Public Radio. He was a member of the team that won the
2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times
coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International
Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges is the author of the bestseller
American Fascists and National Book Critics Circle finalist for War Is
a Force That Gives Us Meaning
. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute
and a Lannan Literary Fellow and has taught at Columbia University, New York
University and Princeton University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 283 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st Free Press Trade Paperback Ed edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0010SB6S6
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,051 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
270 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but the truth June 24, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I almost fell over in disbelief when I read the Publishers Weekly review (see above) for this book. Either the reviewer has an ax to grind against the book's author, or else he/she is just completely misguided, living in some strange academic tower somewhere.
In discussing casualties, wounds, and combat trauma, the reviewer says: "...such experiences have become less common in America's high-tech, casualty-averse military."
Sentences like this prove to me (a two-time war-zone US Army vet) how much this book IS needed.
Who does the reviewer think is on the battlefield? Robots?
No. Humans. Human soldiers and human civilians and when humans step on land mines or get shot they scream, they bleed, and they die.
Hedges has held true to his prologue: this book is skewed neither to the left or right politically; it just tells it like it is, almost always from direct quotes from US Army manuals and medical texts. This book is about the truth, the truth of warfare. It makes no commentary, but it also pulls no punches.
Again, I'm a veteran, and proud to be one. If I had to do it again, I would join the service again, even if it meant a return to war for me. I think it's important to say that, because people are criticising this book for being anti-American. Ridiculous. This book is about the truth, the truth of the war experience. Not the Hollywood airbrushed "Army of One" ads the Pentagon runs on TV.
The USA has an all-volunteer military, something we should be proud of. In my mind, every potential "volunteer" should read this book before they join. They may still join (like I said, I would have), but at least they'll be going with open eyes.
Highly recommended for all humans to read: soldiers and civilians alike.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only the Facts September 20, 2004
Format:Paperback
Chris Hedges gives us a straight-forward book about what it is like to be a soldier. It is arranged like a FAQ, in a question-and-answer format. The beauty of this book is it's simplicity and it's objectivity. Hedges doesn't try to convince anyone to join the military nor does he protest against the military. He just provides facts, and the readers can chose to use the facts as they please. For example, will you rush to join the army infantry after finding out that you have a 1 in 5 chance of getting seriously injured if you go into combat? He also goes into psychological problems that soldiers may develop such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. You'll also find out what will happen to you if you are wounded or killed. Some people may say that this information will just scare off recruits, but don't you think we should tell the men and women who defend our country the truth? Why should we lie to those we claim to honor? If you know someone who is thinking of enlisting, buy them a copy of this book before they do so that they will have more than a recruiter's promises to base their decision upon.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title gets it right - read this book! June 12, 2003
Format:Paperback
I started flipping through this in a bookstore and was blown away. I took it home and read it cover to cover and was engaged the whole way through. Very little of it was information I had seen before, and almost all of it fell somewhere on the spectrum between interesting and shocking. I have been recommending it strongly to friends and am writing my first AMZN recommendation to do it here.
At first I thought the Q&A format would make it hard to get into, but it ended up making it easier. There's not an explicit narrative but the questions are broken up into chapters, and within the chapters they follow a simple logic. The next question is usually the next question you'd ask if you were having a conversation with someone who had all the answers.
I have to disagree with the official review from Publisher's Weekly, on two counts. One, the author's point is that while the Pentagon would have you believe that war has changed, the fact is that the soldier on the ground is still firing bullets at the enemy and having bullets fired at him. Believing that a high-tech war is fundamentally different or "easier" is demeaning to those who fight and win wars today the way they have always been fought and won: on the ground.
The second point is the suggestion that this is a book "for soldiers." This abrogates the responsibility of every American to understand what our government asks of these young men and women when it sends them off to fight. At the very least, anyone who votes or pays taxes in America is complicit in the decision to go to war, and everyone should understand what military men and women go through. To say to a soldier "this book is for you; I don't need to know this" is again to insult his or her experience.
Read more ›
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53 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Baltimore Catechism of War July 23, 2003
Format:Paperback
I'm beginning to get the feeling Chris Hedges' books are Confession, and Act of Contrition rolled into one; and I think he's doing a good thing. I gave a stellar review to his first book, "War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning," and sent it to a young man graduating from high school in the hope it would help counter the effects of the jingoism we've been inundated with since 9/11. This second book would make a great companion piece, but in my situation, and thank goodness, it's not necessary.
This is a book that should be required reading for any prospective service person. Mr. Hedges has gone way out of his way to be factual, and objective, and let the facts speak. Its purposefully under-heated style reminded me of nothing else but the Baltimore Catechism, albeit minus the dogma. If I had the wherewithal I'd supply every guidance counselor in the US with a few copies, and if I were the Secretary of any service branch I'd give a copy to every potential recruit; however, I neither have, nor am.
I do wonder as to the books potential efficacy in guiding someone away from the service - not Mr. Hedges' stated purpose by the way. Eighteen year olds are immortal - I was - as well as, "young, dumb, and full of cum" - I was. Weren't you? And certainly not prone to being guided by facts - especially when our recruiting efforts are so sexy. Anthony Swofford in "Jarhead," writes about Marine recruits watching war movies - even those considered to be "anti-war" movies - and tells us that our anti-war movies are just the opposite to the troops. I can just hear a couple of prospective recruits reading about death's unraveling - "Cool..."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars ranging from what burn injuries feel like to the news that...
Chris Hedges’s book WHAT EVERY PERSON SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WAR (Free Press, 2003) begins with a quote from Chaucer: “There is full many a man that crieth, ‘Werre! Werre! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Glenn J. Shea
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very informative! No complaints....
Published 1 month ago by Dr. W Charles. Parker
3.0 out of 5 stars The book's description is pretty accurate. This book is very had to...
The book's description is pretty accurate. This book is very had to read. It is basically a question and answer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Matthew Shores
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading if you're planning to serve.
If you or someone you know is planning to enlist, this is a required read before you sign anything.
Published 5 months ago by Oliver D. Allen III
1.0 out of 5 stars Hedges is a serial plagiarizer?
From Breitbart News:

Chris Hedges is a big deal in left-wing circles, and according to the left-wing New Republic, Hedges is also a serial plagiarizer. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Historian
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening.
Brilliant. Eye opening. You will find yourself quoting this book to friends, family, everybody. Unforgettable accounts of life in the military.
Published 6 months ago by ui_chris
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of money
one of the worst books ever. what a waste of money ,what a terrible written mess I have ever picked up
Published 9 months ago by carl christiano
4.0 out of 5 stars review
What Every Person Should Know About War is written by Christ Hedges. Free Press published this book in 2003. Christ Hedges is a New York Times journalist and an author. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Lindsay Ziegler
3.0 out of 5 stars I was a huge fan of every book by Chris Hedges... this one is just...
The book is written in question and answer format. If I were you, I would buy Death of the Liberal Class, American Fascists, Losing Moses on the Freeway, or any other Hedges book.
Published 11 months ago by Neal Diamond
5.0 out of 5 stars War: See George Patton
Anyone who persists in the idea that war is heroic, that it is effectual, that it is moral under any circumstance, must read this book by an author who has been there - done that. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Herbert W. Fawcett
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More About the Author

Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

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