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?
This is one of the best books I ever read. Only because I am partial to a different author it isn't the best book I ever read. Junger books all have a deep understanding of the subject which he is writing about.
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.