With his latest book, Sebastian Junger has done the nearly impossible: written a truly compelling book about war without taking a strong side politically. The reason, according to Junger, is that most of the American soldiers on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan aren’t discussing the politics behind the decisions that led them out to the dessert, carrying around 60 pounds of armor and supplies, while dodging bullets. They are simply trying to survive and keep their fellow soldiers alive.
Known best for A Perfect Storm, his book about fishermen in Gloucester, MA, Junger spent 14 months in 2007-2008 living with the troops in the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (a region that saw more action than most). Junger also brought along a cameraman to film their time there for a movie he made about the war.
There are already shelves filled with books about the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but what makes War stand out from the others is the personal connections Junger makes with the soldiers he is embedded with and the details he brings out over the course of the book, from the sound the bullets actually make as they whiz by your head to how soldiers who may hate someone in their troop will still risk their own lives to save that same man.
Beyond politics and the rationale of why we are in Afghanistan or how long we will remain, Junger uses War gets to the real story: the one about the soldiers who are actually in the desert doing the fighting, not sitting around debating the merits of it.
War by Sebastian Junger /Twelve/304 pages