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War [Hardcover]

Sebastian Junger
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 13 2010

They were collectively known as “The Rock.” For one year, in 2007–2008, Sebastian Junger accompanied 30 men—a single platoon—from the storied 2nd battalion of the U.S. Army as they fought their way through a remote valley in eastern Afghanistan.Over the course of five trips, Junger was in more firefights than he could count, as men he knew were killed or wounded and he himself was almost killed. His relationship with these soldiers grew so close that they considered him part of the platoon, and he enjoyed an access and a candidness that few, if any, journalists ever attain. 
      War is a narrative about combat: the fear of dying, the trauma of killing and the love between platoon-mates who would rather perish than let each other down. Gripping, honest and intense, War explores the neurological, psychological and social elements of combat, as well as the incredible bonds that form between these small groups of men. This is not a book about Afghanistan or the “War on Terror”; it is a book about all men, in all wars. Junger set out to answer what he thought of as the “hand-grenade question”: why would a man throw himself on a hand grenade to save other men he has known for probably only a few months? The answer is elusive but profound, going to the heart of what it means not just to be a soldier, but to be human.


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Review

"If you thought you knew what the Afghanistan war was like, Sebastian Junger brings a jolt of reality that leaves you questioning whether the war can, or even should, be won. This is frontline, raw, combat reporting the quality of which you don't often read, because quite frankly, most war reporters never see it. Junger has and he doesn't hold back in the telling."
-Peter Mansbridge ()

About the Author

Sebastian Junger is the New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont and Fire. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and has been awarded a National Magazine Award and an SAIS Novartis Prize for journalism. He lives in New York City.


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real War June 21 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Junger has done a masterful job of telling the 'boots-on-the-ground' story in Afghanistan. He gives us the true brother-in-arms picture, not easy to relate until you've been a member of the brotherhood. The first three-quarters of the book builds a full and complete vision of the daily encounters with the enemy, the personal deprivations arising in an unforgiving land, the occasional boredom between firefights, and the tactical abilities of the Taliban. It's not until the latter part of the story that we begin to hear some of Junger's mental, emotional and olitical impressions. Those thoughts are both revealing and frank and I found them easy to believe, as well as agree with what were personal opinions.

Since the book included some materials previously published in Vanity Fair, some sections were repeated in more than one place within the book, something I found a bit annoying. other than that, it's going to be an important record of that time.

This is a great read, both intimate and frightening. It serves as an important source of facts about our front- line warriors and the horrors they face for us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Realities of Combat as seen from the inside July 12 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sebastian Junger has given us a rare look at the realities of combat in the first decade of the 21st century. This picture is not one of full-scale war between major powers but that of the grinding counter-insurgency fighting that marks this era. This form of warfare demands a constant courage from the soldiers involved and Jungers shows us how these young soldiers respond, day by day, week by week. Junger is a rare journalist who volunteered to share the discomfort and danger with these men in a remote Afghan valley, revealing the power of comradeship in sustaining courage and fighting spirit. This book should become a classic in the study of combat psychology and among those books which have attempted to discover the sources of courage while under fire.Courage Rewarded: The Valour of Canadian Soldiers Under Fire 1900 to 2007, Firing Line,The Anatomy of Courage: The Classic WWI Study of the Psychological Effects of War
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life." -- 1 Kings 15:6 (NKJV)

Sebastian Junger's War is the most chilling nonfiction book I've read about 21st Century war. Whether you favor or oppose American military involvement in Afghanistan, you need to read this book to understand the nature of what violence is being waged there.

The combat units that Mr. Junger describes are in essence sitting ducks, located deep in "enemy" territory where a single sniper located higher up in the hills can wreak havoc on the military outposts. Once an engagement starts, the Americans can bring in overwhelming fire power, but there's a delay before it arrives. In the meantime, the pinned down troops can blast away . . . probably not doing much damage but at least forcing others to keep their heads down. The effect is similar whether it's a local boy hired to fire a couple of shots for $5 and then take off or whether it's the beginning of a serious assault. Fear goes through the roof. Men die. Deep bonding occurs among the survivors. Combat teamwork improves. Gradually, it becomes a preferred way of life. That's probably the most surprising message of this book. Terrifying combat becomes something to be sought out for its highs.

Mr. Junger balances a riveting tale with many valuable perspectives on how frightening it is, crossing the accustomed barrier into being someone who kills, and the deep love that develops among comrades.

It's a lot to ask of anyone to serve in such perilous conditions. It's more than doing your duty and risking your life. It's taking on a life that you may not be able to put down, even if you survive.

Thank God for the brave warriors who have taken up these seemingly overwhelming duties so we can be safer. The next time you see someone in an armed forces uniform, be sure to thank them for their service and ask about what they have been doing in a caring way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War as seen from the ground June 23 2010
By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sebastian Junger's book "War" is a memoir of his experiences with the Second Platoon of Battle Company during their tour of duty in the very violent Korengal Valley in Afghanistan between June of 2007 and June of 2008. It's an interesting journalistic choice where he makes no attempt at objectivity. Mr. Junger develops a personal relationship with the men of the Second Platoon that he is not adverse to describe his affection. His war is one where young men discover profound meaning in their every action which is a stark contrast to their lives back home. War is filled with boredom and adrenalin rushes that have no comparison in civilian life. When one of the men on leave in Italy is asked if he would return to one of the most dangerous outposts in the war, he reponds, "I'd take a helicopter there tomorrow. Most of us would." The soldiers' commitment in battle is not to their country or a cause. It is to each other for whom they will sacrifice their own life to save. "War's" strengths are also its weaknesses. By speaking in the first person, we feel Mr. Junger's love and affection for these young men through their fears and exploits and most specifically, their comradery. Yet, I would have liked to learn more about the men. What made them tick? Why did they sign up? What's their back-story? Nevertheless, his approach is interesting and definitely worth the relatively short read. His story brings up the larger question of what society is going to do with a growing population of unemployed young men searching for meaning in their lives. Surely, there's a better alternative than war.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and Mesmerizing
The author manages to convey something of what it was like to fight in Afghanistan and gives an excellent analysis of why young men perform so well in an increasingly unpopular... Read more
Published 10 months ago by kendai
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone who expresses opinions about soldiers
The 13th Valley set in Afghanistan. Recommend to all comfortable Americans. Junger does it again. The politicians that send them should definitely read this.
Published 17 months ago by snort
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound. Thought provoking. Deeply intense.,
When I finished reading this book I lingered on the final words the author had to say to one of the soldiers he was embedded with in Aghanistan: "You got me there, O'Byrne; you got... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2011 by Cynthia Danute Cekauskas, LCSW
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Wound
It has been incredibly difficult to find meaning in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan at the political, strategic, and tactical levels. Read more
Published on July 28 2011 by Jeffrey Swystun
5.0 out of 5 stars Best read of the genre
War is without reservation the best book on the genre. Broken down into three parts: Fear, Killing & Love, it details the physical events and mental hurdles men facing combat have... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2010 by Cynical Critic
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Perspective
Sebastian goes into the heart of"the beast" Lives the life,endures the hardships of the troops,and reports on all phases of brutality of war. Read more
Published on June 17 2010 by David Baxter
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