Sebastian Junger: War (Book Review)
I practically devoured Sebastian Junger’s latest book, War, during a 5-hour bus ride to Penang (dubbed the Pearl of the Orient), and I must say that this is an amazing book. The guy, along with the late photographer Tim Hetherington (he died covering the Libyan civil war in 2011, may he rest in peace) spent over a year with a platoon of the 173rd Brigade, in one of the hottest “hot zones” in Afghanistan, the Korengal Valley, and this book tells of his experience with the men of Battle Company.
War provides an amazing insight into the minds and the experience that young men undergo in a contemporary war, but I’m pretty sure that the excitement, the fall out, the side effects of the Afghan war wouldn’t be that much different from that of those experienced by guys involved in World War II and Vietnam.
It’s crazy how these guys face multiple firefights in a day against the Taliban, IEDs, and ambushes and you can literally sense the despair as one of the “brothers”, as they call themselves, fall in battle. One particular outpost was literally built in a day and named after a beloved medic, Restrepo, killed in combat. The very same name was used to title a documentary film created by Junger and Hetherington in collaboration with the National Geographic Channel.
The effects of all the fighting reverberates even when the soldiers are not fighting. Junger notes down the shenanigans that happen due to the boredom involved in waiting for the next firefight (sometimes the enemy runs out of ammo or winters make it particularly troublesome for the Taliban to engage in war), and we readers wonder how is it such battle hardened men, exposed to the undeniable (and apparently unattainable anywhere else) kind of high that only war can offer, can reintegrate back into society.
The book ends with a spectacular meltdown of one of the lead characters and is an amazing read cover to cover. If you are interested in non-fiction accounts of war, this book is pretty damn good, and it’s told from a journalist’s perspective, rather than a soldier. Do check it out. Nine Over Ten 9/10 rates this at a 4.5 out of 5!Powered by Sidelines
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