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The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle Third Printing Edition
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- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Paperback : 242 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0803270763
- ISBN-13 : 978-0803270763
- Dimensions : 5.24 x 0.56 x 7.99 inches
- Publisher : Bison Books; Third Printing edition (October 1, 1998)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #251,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Mr. Gray used a handful of his short journal entries during World War II as examples of what occurred on a psychological and sociological level. The extreme surreal environment forces men into actions that are sometimes primal or contradictory to their personality that they display in more peaceful times. Soldiers can one moment be compassionate individuals then quickly display the most abhorrent behavior, never dreaming they had such ugly sides in themselves. ‘The Warriors’ is a 260-page condensed book but filled with acute observations on each page. Its incisiveness reminded me of the 1951 Eric Hoffer book ‘The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.’ Mr. Gray covers such issues as the spectacle and aesthetic satisfaction of battle; comradeship; the delight in destruction; how love manifests itself in soldiers; their relationship to death being so near and arbitrary; the struggle between courage and cowardice; how soldiers envision the enemy; and how guilt factors into a soldier’s psyche. Much of the book deals in philosophical speculation by the learned author. All the issues addressed are multifaceted and understandable, even the abhorrent ones. It is not a cynical book. My only disappointment with ‘The Warriors’ was the last chapter “The Future of War.” Much has transpired since the book was published in 1959 and what the author states about efforts to avoid future wars seem simplistic and pollyannaish.
It’s easy to be judgmental of a soldier’s actions when a person is sitting comfortably, far away from any potential harm. I’m sixty years old and have never served in the military. If I’m honest with myself, there’s no way I could really know how I’d act in such hellish circumstances unless I was in the thick of it. No one knows. What Mr. Gray did so well in ‘The Warriors’ is explain the multitude of ways a human may react during war. It is dealing in many shades of gray and not black-and-white issues. He’s seen them all, up close and many of them personal. War is the “gift” that keeps on pummeling the survivors long after the victims have been devoured by worms. ‘The Warriors’ requires a little more concentration than a straightforward memoir but I thought it was well worth the effort. Mr. Gray’s book will linger in my thoughts for a long time to come.
Gray's "Warriors" is that rare combination of lucid intellectualism and poignancy that ought to be an immediate success with readers, yet the book remains obscure (indeed, I had to order it since my local seller didn't stock it). Ironically, it addresses many topics that should be of interest to contemporary scholars: trauma and what we now call PTSD, memory and forgetfulness, objectification, guilt.... Gray also ruminates on what he calls the appeal of battle. At various points I was reminded of the psychological insights of Robert Jay Lifton, whose The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide introduced the idea of "Doubling" (as Lifton calls it). And there is plenty of evidence for Lifton's psychological theory in this book, though Gray doesn't refer to it as such.
What makes Gray's book so impressive is his ability to remain critically aloof and emotionally close to his topic at the same time--a very tricky proposition that he pulls off marvelously. He very smoothly juxtaposes passages from Plato and Shakespeare to those from his own personal letters or war journal, the latter of which is moving without ever being maudlin or depressing.
If Gray's last chapter, "The Future of War," seems dated and hopelessly optimistic, I think we can forgive him. Gray, like the existentialists who were his contemporaries, cites Nietzsche here, but unlike them, he suggests that one day we may have the superhuman strength to "break our swords" once and for all. Sadly, as our present world stage confirms, ubermenschen we still are not.
Top reviews from other countries
Fussel escreveu não apenas como ex-combatente, mas como um acadêmico que misturou suas vivências in loco com pesquisas que deram muito reforço aos seus argumentos. Já Jesse Glenn Gray, por outro lado, escreveu esse livro 100% partindo de suas experiências pessoais. Algumas afirmações que ele faz no livro de que "soldados pensam assim" ou "soldados fazem A por motivo B" são, em geral, convincentes, mas não dá pra deixar de se perguntar até que ponto sua percepção, plenamente individual de soldado dos EUA lutando num teatro de batalha específico (principalmente na Itália) num momento bem específico, pode ser considerada "totalizante". Até que ponto certos postulados do autor podem, de fato, falar em nome de milhões de combatentes que arriscaram suas vidas em um conflito de escala global?
Tirando isso e o prefácio do autor, escrito cerca de 10 anos após o lançamento do livro e que é péssimo (o livro é de 58 e o prefácio, se não estou enganado, é de 68 ou 69), é uma boa leitura.