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Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging Hardcover – May 24, 2016
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"Junger has raised one of the most provocative ideas of this campaign season--and accidentally written one of its most intriguing political books."―The New York Times
"There are three excellent reasons to read Sebastian Junger's new book: the clarity of his thought, the elegance of his prose, and the provocativeness of his chosen subject. Within a compact space, the sheer range of his inquiry is astounding."―S. C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon
"Sebastian Junger has turned the multifaceted problem of returning veterans on its head. It's not so much about what's wrong with the veterans, but what's wrong with us. If we made the changes suggested in TRIBE, not only our returning veterans, but all of us, would be happier and healthier. Please read this book."―Karl Marlantes, New York Times bestselling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War
"Junger uses every word in this slim volume to make a passionate, compelling case for a more egalitarian society."―Booklist
"The author resists the temptation to glorify war as the solution to a nation's mental ills and warns against the tendency "to romanticize Indian life," but he does succeed in showing "the complicated blessings of 'civilization,' " while issuing warnings about divisiveness and selfishness that should resonate in an election year. The themes implicit in the author's bestsellers are explicit in this slim yet illuminating volume."―Kirkus Reviews
"Thought-provoking...a gem."―The Washington Post
"TRIBE is an important wake-up call. Let's hope we don't sleep through the alarm."―Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Compelling...Junger...offers a starting point for mending some of the toxic divisiveness rampant in our current political and cultural climate."―The Boston Globe
"Junger argues with candor and grace for the everlasting remedies of community and connectedness."―O Magazine
"TRIBE is a fascinating, eloquent and thought-provoking book..packed with ideas...It could help us to think more deeply about how to help men and women battered by war to find a new purpose in peace."―The Times of London
About the Author
Sebastian Junger is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tribe, War, The Perfect Storm, Fire, and A Death in Belmont. Together with Tim Hetherington, he directed the Academy Award-nominated film Restrepo, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and has been awarded a National Magazine Award and an SAIS Novartis Prize for journalism. He lives in New York City.
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Tribe focuses on the growing disconnect we’re experiencing with one another as a society, and the far reaching consequences of that disconnect. It’s an eye-opening letter to the American public that politely reminds us that we’ve lost our way when it comes to being a closer knit community as a whole.
Not always, of course. In his book, he touches on how tragedies such as 9/11 brings us closer - albeit briefly. But once the dust settles, we fall back to our old ways.
This is not a book about war, the military, or PTSD. It’s about the loss of belonging, caring for our fellow man as we do about the ones closest to us. He uses a parable about a brief encounter he has with a homeless man as a young adult. The man sees that he’s on a backpacking trip on his own and asks if he has enough food for his trip. The young Junger, afraid of being mugged for his supplies, lies and tells the man that he has just a little food to last him. The homeless man tells Junger he’ll never make it on what he has and hands him his lunch bag that he more than likely received from a homeless shelter - probably the only meal the homeless man would have the entire day. Sebastian feels horrible about himself after that, but uses that lesson as a parable for Tribe.
Think of your fellow man before thinking of yourself. Because without that sense of humanism, togetherness, belonging, we’re all dead inside.
TRIBE is well-worth reading for pointed socio-political questions it asks about American civic life and for the keen observations it makes about the combat experience. Thankfully, Junger doesn't offer any easy fixes, but on the other hand, he doesn't do much to stir our imaginations about how to cultivate in American civilian life the sort of solidarity that combat engenders. At times, he does tend toward idealizing the Native American experience of tribal life, and that sort of idealism won't be particularly helpful for addressing the dissolution of community that we so intensely experience. Regardless, this is a timely book that should not only widely read, but also widely discussed.
He has three sons, all eligible to serve in the military, none of them having done so, and neither had he.
Many years hence, following North Korea's hack of Sony, my same brother implied we should go to war against Korea and not bother with Obama's
proportional approach. I reminded him we have 25-30,000 troops along the border there, and he seemed to not care.
Then I asked him if he was going to encourage any of his boys to enlist and take up arms. He emphatically told me there were plenty of people willing to go fight. That, of course, didn't answer my question, but he knew he slipped it and I simply stopped speaking to him.
What my brother was willing to do was finance the fighting. He had no intention of paying the true costs of what he advocated.
Mr. Junger's book explains why this type of attitude is so harmful to those who fight our wars and return home to a population so far removed from the wars and the troops that it affects their assimilation into the society they left, and causes us to treat them as victims instead of soldiers, and why it's never enough or even wise to simply say: "thank you for your service".
Because we limit our war exposure to so small a percentage of our citizens, men and women return home to a country completely removed from any type of knowledge of the brotherhood of soldiers, the cohesive units that draw men and women close and unites them. And it isn't just the soldiers exposed to battle that feel the effects and suffer from high rates of PTSD for longer periods because they reenter a country suddenly foreign to them. Civilians go through the same ordeal. And it occurs in America at far higher rates than other countries involved in war.
I thought this was a great read. I highly recommend it. I'm glad it made the NYT bestseller's list. Maybe people will start paying attention.
Sebastian has the bona fides to cover a topic such as this. We'd be wise to listen to what he has to say.