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What It Is Like to Go to War Hardcover – August 30, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: With unflinching honesty, bestselling author Karl Marlantes captures What It Is Like to Go to War in his compassionate, powerful narrative on Vietnam. By recounting experiences that, outside the arena of war, are horrifying or embarrassing for the soldiers who lived them, Marlantes exposes veterans' self-destructive code of silence as the price for re-entering our society. American pop culture celebrates the warrior spirit, winning the battle, but the reality for soldiers is that “reconciling the moral conduct we are taught…with the brutal acts we do in war has been a problem for warriors of good conscience for centuries.” Marlantes tempers the brutal truths of fear, power games, and courage with a thoughtful prescription for our soldiers’ well-being; caring for our soldiers and their families differently will benefit society as a whole. In What It Is Like to Go to War, Marlantes sets a new standard for understanding the experience of war. --Seira Wilson
Marlantes brings candor and wrenching self-analysis to bear on his combat experiences in Vietnam, in a memoir-based meditation whose intentions are three-fold: to help soldiers-to-be understand what they’re in for; to help veterans come to terms with what they’ve seen and done; and to help policymakers know what they’re asking of the men they send into combat.”The New Yorker
What It Is Like to Go to War is a well-crafted and forcefully argued work that contains fresh and important insights into what it’s like to be in a war and what it does to the human psyche.”The Washington Post
Marlantes is the best American writer right now on war . . . With What It Is Like to Go to War a second Marlantes book resides on the top shelf of American literature.”Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
What It Is Like to Go to War ought to be mandatory reading by potential infantry recruits and by residents of any nation that sends its kidsMarlantes’s wordinto combat.”San Francisco Chronicle
In this thoughtful, literate work of self-exorcism, Marlantes tells tales of incredible bravery as well as brutality.”People Magazine
A precisely crafted and bracingly honest book."The Atlantic
Marlantes knows what he writes. . . Raw, unsettling honesty pervades the work.”Time.com
Marlantes has written a sparklingly provocative nonfiction book. . . He is an exceptional writer and his depictions here are vivid.”BookPage
A gripping, first-person plea to consider the impact on the human spirit of being a soldier.”Huffington Post
Karl Marlantes, author of the excellent What It Is Like To Go To War, cautions his audience to understand the cost to the human psyche in sending others to kill in our names or for policies decided by politicians determined to use (and abuse) the power entrusted to their office.”Daily Planet
Karl Marlantes’ What It Is Like to Go to War is a deeply personal account of dealing with his harrowing time as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam. . . . Marlantes’ fiction might be just too wrenching for some readers to believe.”Logos
This absolutely unique and lucid personal account and analysis will be read with profit by scholars, general readers, and most particularly, by veterans of close combat. . . . The author is qualified by experience, education, temperament, and skill as a writer to make penetrating observations. Many are graphic, bold, and shocking. Some are erudite; some are ethereal; all are worthy of careful consideration. . . . His method is to reflect on a point important to him, to illustrate it with an anecdote or a combat experience, and to mull it over in sparkling prose that has the reader hanging on every word. . . . Mastery of our language and the creative use of poetic devices and images make his pronouncements memorable. . . . Marlantes has joined a short list of authors whose experience, sensitivity, and skill enable them to share wisdom with those among us who would understand.”Parameters
What it is Like to Go to War is already considered by many a modern classic. . . . The former Marine has three main goals in this unflinchingly honest look at what it means to be a soldier in a war: to let potential soldiers understand what to expect, to help veterans better cope with what they’ve experienced, and to help policy makers truly comprehend what it means when they send combat troops into a war zone.”Bradenton Herald
To say that this book is brilliant is an understatementMarlantes is the absolute master of taking the psyche of the combat veteran and translating it into words that the civilian or non-veteran can understand. I have read many, many books on war and this is the first time that I've ever read exactly what the combat veteran thinks and feelsnothing I have ever read before has hit home in my heart like this book.”Gunnery Sergeant Terence D’Alesandro, 3rd Batallion, 5th Marines, U.S. Marine Corps
Wrenchingly honest. . . . Digging as deeply into his own life as he does into the larger sociological and moral issues, Marlantes presents a riveting, powerfully written account of how, after being taught to kill, he learned to deal with the aftermath.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A valiant effort to explain and make peace with war’s awesome consequences for human beings.”Kirkus Reviews
What It Is Like to Go to War offers profound insight on how we must prepare our youth who become our warriors for their hard and uncompromising journey through war’s hell and back home again.”Vietnam Magazine
With war such a part of contemporary American life, this book is deeply important, as timely and urgent as contemporary on-the-ground reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq.”The Minneapolis Star Tribune
A sound debunking of anything smacking of the glory of warfarebut written with compassion, honest and wit for men and now women who fight and for all of those who care about them.”St. Louis Dispatch
A slim spiritual guide. . . Marlantes’s book is a sincere plea for better soldiers and veterans.”Seattle Weekly
What It Is Like to Go to War is a courageous, noble and intelligent grapple with myth, history, and spirituality that beautifully elevates the cultural conversation on the role of the military in today’s world. It is an emotional, honest, and affecting primer for all Americans on war and the national psyche, and we ignore this book at our own peril.”Ed Conklin, Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara
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This and COL Summers book On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context are the two must-read books on Vietnam. Summers tells of the strategic failure, and Marlantes tells of the moral failure. But he does much more. He starts out by telling of a perhaps well meaning but ultimately futile chaplain visit that failed to address the issues, just covered them over. And thus--in his own words--the author was not spiritually prepared for combat. He notes: “Training must move beyond how you kill; it must include why you kill, how killing fits in the grand scheme of things, and how you are likely to feel afterward.” More than war-stories and memoir, this book provides a philosophical, psychological and spiritual analysis of what the war did to people. He delves into Summers’ realm by talking about the lack of clear objectives and the mindless fudging of the numbers with the unnecessary body count/kill-ratio (In the book Prodigal Soldiers, the LTs of VN as Generals corrected this in Desert Storm). If you’re looking for a straight memoir (war-stories), this isn’t for you. If you want to learn both what war is like and how it impacts the human soul, this is about the best you’ll find.
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