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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.
—Pogo, by Walt Kelly (1912-1973)
Sebastian Junger’s central theme is the epidemic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suffered by returning American war fighters that is exponentially higher than any previous conflict in world history.
The root cause, according to Sebastian Junger, is not war, violence, death and destruction overseas. It is not the VA back home. It is us.
Junger opens with a brilliant narrative—footnote free and wonderfully informative—of how primitive tribes, societies and communes through history waged wars and successfully dealt with the aftermath.
Then he cuts to the chase. A quick sampling:
“The vast majority of traumatized vets are not faking their symptoms, however. They return from wars that are safer than those their fathers and grandfathers fought, and yet far greater numbers of them wind up alienated and depressed. This is true even for people who didn’t experience combat. In other words, the problem doesn’t seem to be the trauma on the battlefield so much as reentry into society.”
“Todays veterans often come home to find that although they’re willing to die for their country, they’re not sure how to live for it. It’s hard to know how to live for a country that regularly tears itself apart along every possible ethnic and demographic boundary. The income gap between rich and poor continues to widen, many people live in racially segregated communities, the elderly are mostly sequestered from public life, and rampage shootings happen so regularly that they only remain in the news cycle for a day or two. To make matters worse, politicians occasionally accuse rivals of deliberately trying to harm their own country—a charge so destructive to group unity that most past societies would probably have just punished it as a form of treason. It’s complete madness, and the veterans know this.”
Before casting a vote November 8, 2016, I urge you to read TRIBE: On Homecoming and Belonging. And give it as a gift to everyone you care about.