Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sebastian Junger, over the course of 15 months, took five trips to observe and live with a platoon fighting in Afghanistan. He made a documentary, Restrepo, based on his time there, as well as writing a book, War.

War is unexpectedly politics-free, which allows the focus to be on the soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan rather than on an argument about whether or not they should be there in the first place. By emphasizing the brotherhood among the soldiers and showing their day-to-day life (the fighting and the boredom), Junger presents a new perspective on the soldiers fighting for the US.

The book is loosely organized into three sections: “Fear,” “Killing,” and “Love.” To tell the truth, I couldn’t see how many of the related incidents fit into those categories (particularly in the “Love” section), but it didn’t complicate the reading. Despite his jumps in chronology and subject, Junger avoids choppy narration, and, somehow, the entire book seems to flow. My one complaint is that he doesn’t define many of the military terms he uses, which sometimes made it difficult for me to understand.

War is a gripping book, a quick read, and one that I definitely recommend, particularly for people like me who don’t know much about what a modern soldiers life is like. It gets a 4/5.

Watch Jon Stewart's interview with Sebastian Junger

Buy the book

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