- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Haymarket Books (January 9, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608463710
- ISBN-13: 978-1608463718
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 101 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars: The Untold Story Paperback – January 9, 2014
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
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An indispensable book about America’s current wars and the multiple ways they continue to wound not only the soldiers but their families and indeed the country itself. Jones writes with passion and clarity about the tragedies other reporters avoid and evade.”Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 19451990
"For a decade, Jones, through her firsthand reporting of war and life on the ground in Afghanistan, has given us more of the reality of that conflict than any dozen of her well-connected colleagues in the established media, attuned as they have been to the cant and spin pouring out of official mouths. Now, she has turned her shrewd, wise, compassionate, reality-bound eye to some of the bitterest facts of all: the almost unimaginable suffering of the American soldiers wounded and otherwise impaired in the conflict. The result is a harrowing and compelling tale that is hard to bear but must be borne if we are understand the disaster this country unleashed in Afghanistan." Jonathan Schell author of The Unconquerable World
This is a painful odyssey. Ann Jones’s superb writing makes it possible to take it in without sugar coating. Read this book. You will be a wiser and better citizen.” Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, author of Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming
"Ann Jones' new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- The Untold Story, is devastating, and almost incomprehensibly so when one considers that virtually all of the death and destruction in U.S. wars is on the other side. Statistically, what happens to U.S. troops is almost nothing. In human terms, it's overwhelming. Know a young person considering joining the military? Give them this book. Know a person not working to end war? Give them this book." David Swanson
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Top customer reviews
Thanks to Ann Jones for her excellent work, and to Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch.com for publishing and making me aware of the book.
Although the author does not come out and say so openly, the dead soldiers are the lucky ones. I think it was Thucydides who had said that only the dead have seen the end of war. At least those dead soldiers don’t suffer anymore. Their loved one will mourn them and grieve, and then they will move on with their lives. Comparing to what follows in the next chapters, the dead and their relatives are indeed fortunate.
And what follows in the next chapters is the account of the wounded. First the process of treatment of wounded soldiers is discussed in detail. Then we get a lengthy discussion on psychologically wounded. The stories are heartbreaking. We get to read about soldier who have suffered disabling, permanent wounds such as lost limbs and/or castration. You also read about veterans who become psychiatric cases. When they return, they appear fine at first, but within months, or even just weeks, their sanity unravels and they disintegrate. Many commit suicide, engage in behavior that is dangerous to them and others, sink into severe depression, or become criminal.
These “damaged” veterans are by no means rare. Together, they number in tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands. The cost of treating them is staggering. Not that they receive proper treatment anyway. Most are taken care of by their families who are not professional care givers and who make enormous financial and personal sacrifices to take care of them. The help that they receive from Veteran Affairs and other such organizations leaves much to be desired, to put it mildly. The system that is supposed to take care of those veterans is broken at best, and uncaring and harmful at worst. The individuals who work in the system are all well meaning and dedicated, although many are overwhelmed and a few appear to be incompetent.
Yet what this book is about is not really the horror stories about the wounded and the criticism of the broken Veteran Affairs system. This book is a condemnation of war. Not just the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but war in general. Even had the Veteran Affairs been flawless and perfect, it would do little to reduce the horror of what war does to human beings. Even a perfect health care system cannot grow back lost limbs and genitals, and in cases of psychiatric casualties, the psychological wounds and scars stay with you for the rest of your life. And keep in mind that those veterans are young men and women. Most are barely past twenty. Their lives were only just starting, and they are already ruined.
The true tragedy about those human wrecks (I assure you, I thought long and hard before using that word) is that they were betrayed by those in whom they placed their trust. Not only that, they were betrayed multiple times. They were sent to a war sold to them under false pretenses. Once on the ground, they witnessed (even committed) atrocities under tacit approval of their commanders, sometimes even under their direct orders. When they returned home physically and/or mentally damaged, they fell under the care of a system that does very poor job, to put it mildly, of taking care of them. Moreover, their sacrifice is hushed up and kept away from the public. You often see politicians shaking hands and taking pictures with uniform-wearing, medal-bearing veterans, but do you ever see a politician taking a photo op with a veteran who is missing his arms and legs? When you go to army recruitment office, you see on the walls photos showing soldiers doing exciting, manly things and being happy about it. How come you never see pictures of soldiers attending counselling sessions because they are suffering from acute depression and are at high risk of suicide?
The wounded (be they physically or mentally wounded) are shunned like a dirty, shameful family secret. Out of sight, out of mind, as they saying goes. The generals and the politicians do know very well that if the public starts seeing on TV images of young men without arms or young women who are mentally disintegrating because they were raped by their fellow soldiers (believe it or not, it is a frequent occurrence in the army), support for wars would drop to zero in no time.
And, ask yourself, would that be such a bad thing?
Most recent customer reviews
Content: A+ essential reading for any informed citizen; note that some of this information may result in disbelief, becoming infuriated, a loss of belief...Read more
Jones should re-write the first 50 pages.Read more