In listening to Sebastian Junger read War, the book he both experienced and wrote, you will periodically find yourself standing or sitting stock-still while the powerful narrative sinks in. Junger does not pull any punches in his writing, and his reading carries with it the anxiety and the pure fear he experienced embedded on five occasions with U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. This six-mile long valley "the Afghanistan of Afghanistan”, according to Junger has sustained 70% of all U.S. bombing in Afghanistan. Junger’s respect for the soldiers of U.S. Army’s 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade can be heard as he contrasts the jocularity of the men (the platoon was all male) and periods of stultifying boredom with the split-second responses every soldier maintains to react to snipers, ambushes, and IED attacks.
Junger tells of the bravado and the extraordinary human connection to one another the soldiers display. Each soldier and even Junger knows that the next instant might bring death. That knowledge is ever-present as Junger describes surprise attacks by Taliban and on Taliban with vivid intensity.
Junger’s reading lets you join in on the soldiers’ humor that strengthens bonds and, for the moment, relieves the reality of life in one of the world’s most unforgiving terrains, even without a vicious enemy potentially lurking behind the next boulder. His tone captures the men’s loneliness and the existential angst inevitably affecting them all until the next firefight comes as most of them do, in an instant and seldom with warning.
Listeners will enjoy Junger’s description of the physically huge soldier, Vandenberg, who has his fellow soldiers in awe of his sheer bulk and strength. Vandenberg is a source of good-humored testing and honest admiration, and you can hear the catch in Junger’s voice as he tells of Vandenberg’s nearly fatal wound and the tenderness with which the soldier reached from the cot where he lay to grab the hand of his also severely wounded buddy, while both waited to be helicoptered away for more intensive medical care.
Junger describes the brutality of war experienced by young American soldiers and shares examples of bravery and camaraderie that occur on almost a daily basis amidst deprivations unimaginable to civilians which will make you want to stop every person in military uniform to thank them for their service. You’ll also want to thank Sebastian Junger for writing War and— most especially for reading it with honesty and compassion. Carole Chouinard
In his breakout best seller, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger created "a wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea and the often futile attempts of humans to withstand it" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat - the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another.
His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.
©2010 Sebastian Junger (P)2010 Hachette
"Junger mixes visceral combat scenes-raptly aware of his own fear and exhaustion-with quieter reportage and insightful discussions of the physiology, social psychology, and even genetics of soldiering. The result is an unforgettable portrait of men under fire." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a book that brings truth, sometimes uncomfortable truth to the current conflict in Afganistan.
The best thing about the story is its realism. It is not attempting to glorify or condem, but to present an unvarnished reality. You as the reader then need to make your own assessment of why we are there. The book tells of a platoon of soldiers serving at the "pointy end of the spear" in Afganistan. It takes you thru their daily lives, how they survive from day to day, fight against bordom, the terror of combat, the brotherhood of soldiers.
The narrator was also the book author. He is defintely a writer. His naration is toward the wooden, but as you know he is also the author, his style is a part of the realism. I would best describe as being told a story, by a friend while sitting at a bar enjoying the evening. He is not trying to sway or convince, just tell his truth.
I was very moved by the story. I celebrated the platoons victories, I morned their losses, I better understand their lives
I read "The Perfect Storm" and " A Death in Belmont" prior to listening to "War". In fact, I've read "Storm" three times over the years. Junger's prose is straightforward and powerful. He lets the images and the stories speak for themselves and does not impart partisanship or rhetoric. In "War", he does not pass judgement on whether the war in Iraq is justified or not. He creates portraits of individual soldiers who form a life and death bond with one another. This is another one of Junger's workds that I will listen to again
Basically, if you like to hear about heroic struggles from WWII on the history channel, this book will make you realize that the intrepid spirit of overcoming adversity and overwhelming odds is still alive and well. This book takes the reader behind the propaganda and into the very real world of modern combat. WAR gives the perspective of the modern American soldier Without being too political by way of striking a perfect balance between being interesting and relevant. A MUST READ!!!
Was pretty good. The narrative felt a bit random, it was easy to lose track of the timeline. It may be particular to individual sensitivities but for me it wasn't as "raw" as I was led to believe. The philosophical overtone felt thrown on to add more weight to what was otherwise a fairly objective viewpoint. All in all still a good read and visit to the men on the fringes of the battlefield.
My nephew did a tour in Iraq and he thinks this book comes as close as any work can to describe the experience of modern warfare.
Like the movie that accompanies it, the immediacy of this book is both profound and profoundly challenging. Going into it and coming out of it I craved some meaning and global, political, and existential context. While in the story I forgot that desire though, and just listened, rapt, to a very well written, meticulously examined, usually inaccessible, passionately performed story of one moment in time.
Insightful, forceful, thought provoking. I listened to it three times in rapid succession. And, in my taste, Junger is a stellar narrator. This a "must read" for those who liked Junger's "War."
I marveled at his take on our broken political system and our contempt for each other. I agree with his observation that each political side represents two sides of the necessary whole, but that we focus on differences rather than unity.
I guess I should go get a loin cloth.
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