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Publisher's Summary

We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding - "tribes". This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians - but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today.

Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that - for many veterans as well as civilians - war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Tribe explains why we are stronger when we come together and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Sebastian Junger (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sebastian Junger has turned the multifaceted problem of returning veterans on its head. It's not so much about what's wrong with the veterans, but what's wrong with us. If we made the changes suggested in Tribe, not only our returning veterans, but all of us, would be happier and healthier. Please read this book." (Karl Marlantes, New York Times best-selling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War)
"There are three excellent reasons to read Sebastian Junger's new book: the clarity of his thought, the elegance of his prose, and the provocativeness of his chosen subject. Within a compact space, the sheer range of his inquiry is astounding." (S. C. Gwynne, New York Times best-selling author of Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon)

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The most profound book on the subject

I joined the Marine Corps at 17, I invaded Iraq when I was 18 and I fought in Fallujah when I was 19. I then served as the platoon sergeant at the local guard unit while going to college. No book I have ever read about war has ever captured what it all means, not like this one has. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone that serves this country in any capacity.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 12-19-16

Compelling Case

I have read several articles recently about our society’s problems with individualism. When I saw Junger’s short book on the subject, I thought it might give me a more in-depth viewpoint on the subject, which it did.

Junger tells of Benjamin Franklin’s 1753 observation that white prisoners of Native American Tribes when recused would run back to the Native American Tribe they had been with. But the situation never worked it reverse. Franklin concluded there was something wrong with our society.

Junger primarily is addressing issues of the returning military personnel and the difficulties they have returning to civilian life. They have been an integral part of a “tribe” or unit then sent home and feel unwanted or needed as a civilian particularly if unable to obtain a job. He says our society honors individuals and being alone rather than being part of a cohesive group, village or tribe. Junger also discusses the bonding of civilians such as with the blitz in England or 9/11 in New York. He states that with WWII both military and civilians sacrificed for a common goal but that is not the case with the current war and the disconnect between civilians and military is widening. He claims we need to bond together in villages, groups and country; he claims that would reduce crime and mental illness.

Sebastian Junger is a journalist and has been in many wars over the years. The book is well written and researched. His analysis and thoughts are clearly presented and backed with documentation. This is an interesting book and worth the effort to read. Junger narrates his own book.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Essential field guide to being a human

This book is an essential read. It gives us great insight into the human condition.

Junger opens the book with the story of a homeless man unsuccessful finding day labor who, upon seeing the young Junger hitchhiking, walks out to the highway and offers him his lunch - probably the only food he had. It wasn't just the kindness, Junger observes - it was that this man who had nothing took responsibility for a fellow human.

The rest of the book is a combination of Junger's experience as a war correspondent, anthropological insight about human evolution in small groups responsible for each other, and the downside of our overly affluent society where we're no longer needed. The veterans I know that have read it think he has nailed it - the reason so many of our vets, surrounded in small groups by others who would die for them, lose so much when they come back to a society filled with isolation and living life on screen.

It's a short book, and Junger's journalistic style is direct, clear and full of punch. A very approachable narrative and so illuminating.

Read by Junger himself, in his raspy, just-out-of-the-field voice, a perfect match.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thought-provoking

Junger may have captured some of what ails us as a society by looking at our bravest patriots upon their return home. Their suffering -- whether they saw "action" or not -- is profound and produces a staggering number of suicides. Then he draws parallels to the survivors of war. For many there is a nostalgia for the togetherness of wartime communities. This book underscores the need for human connection and community. It's powerful -- and might catch you off-guard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Changed my view of the world

There are books that will change how you see the world, and this is one of them.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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BEAUTIFUL!!!!

My only critique is that I wish it was longer! It's a powerful truth that I have been drawn to all my life & have found myself drawn more & more to the simplistic, humble, communal life he is celebrating in this book. Ancient & tribal ways are far more sophisticated & intelligent than we realize; I also found this book to very healing & helped me recognize some voids in my life have had more to do w/proximity & connection & to let go of relationships & people who actually isolate me more than they draw me in. Seriously such an amazing book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A great work of our lifetime!

Take a bow Mr Junger for you have truly given back to your Earth. If we, the human race, are to survive we must all comprehend the truth of life in this short but profound perspective.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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great insight to something nobody knows the answer

the book is occasionally slow but very rich in content. it really dives into what returning veterans deal with and how to really help.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not his best work

I love War and Restrepo but I feel like this book is a little repetitive and the arguments he presents seem to have a lot of bias, interesting but not very compelling to me

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Bought on a recommendation

Extremely insightful. And makes you think. Also the narrators voice fit the bill. Will listen to again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful