War. Sebastien Junger.

War. Sebastien Junger. In the Argo Catalog.

Sebastien Junger is an award winning journalist with a few books under his belt. In his new book, War, he spends time in the hills of Afghanistan with some of the hardiest troops in the United States Army. He makes five trips over the course of  a year, several last a full month. I am not a fan of war, I do not glorify it, I often mock those that bother to fight in them and feel sympathy for those that are/were tricked into fighting or believing that violence makes peace. Put frankly I do not think war ought to be an option other than in self-defense. I was promised the book did not glorify war. Junger claims that to be biased and honest is possible, you have to call it like you see, and he does.

I found the writing tiresome because I am unfamiliar with the jargon of war and the military (LZs and etc.). I found myself yawning at the descriptions of the men, they seem fake even if they are real. I get the distinct impression most of the troop are behaving how they think troops are supposed to behave, the way I act like a bookstore owner and you at like a person that reads book reviews and takes literature seriously. I am not particularly impressed with the ability of someone to carry something heavy, nor to land a plane on a small space, nor to kill another man, nor to act heroic when times demand it. As such the main narrative drive of the book was not of much interest to me. I suspect many people are going to find it fascinating to look into the living quarters and lifestyles of the troops and for them this book is going to be a great read.

For some this book may create anger and resentment towards the American government, either for how it treats its troops or for getting into the war in the first place. Either way, if you are the type of person to pick up this book it will leave you thinking and demanding answers of one sort or another.

The conclusion of the book is satisfying to me, a person that thinks even the winners of a war lose. The impact of the war on the troops is the real heart of this story and it is a sad one. This book is a cautionary tale for those that want to jump into this or any other war. Even if you are “good” at soldiering it is likely not what you think and you are probably overestimating your ability to live a healthy and happy life outside of the army when you are done, if you live that long.

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