June 14, 2010

Book Review: WAR

By: Sebastian Junger
Published by: 12

I finished WAR last week but needed some time to let my thoughts gel.

WAR follows one platoon, during their 15 month long deployment to the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, and their life at COP Restrepo. They are literally the tip of the spear, no other US units are deployed deeper into the valley, they are as one leader tells it, “..a middle finger stuck into the eye of the Taliban.”

That middle finger takes it all on, and Junger sucks you in with an engrossing story of how these men survive and why, as unimaginable and sick as it sounds, they miss it after it is all over. It of course is combat, the chaotic yet orchestrated efforts of killing your fellow man. Kill or be killed is the rule in the Korengal Valley and the men of Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne, do it not for their country, but for each other.

WAR is a case study in why men, young men go off to war. Interspersed with insight gathered from reviewing countless studies on the psychology of combat, Junger weaves us into second platoon’s time in Afghanistan, and excells at hs attepmt to express, as well as an outsider can, why and how they hold on especially when all hope seems lost. WAR is raw and exeptionally honest as Junger pulls no punches, he puts it all out there, the good, the bad and the ugly.

You can’t help but feel for every one of these young men and the troubles they endure not only in the Korengal Valley but also when they return back to their home base of Vicenza, Italy. Loss haunts these young men, but despite it all they want to go back. Not only because of a sense of duty to their country, but out of the real reason why men go to war, to fight for their brothers, the man to their left and the man to their right. In combat all of the extraneous stuff that goes along with life is forgotten. There is a single sense of purpose in trying to stay alive and not let the man next to you and your platoon mates, down.

Junger’s year in the Korengal Valley, captures that essence and leaves you in a tailspin of emotions and excitement, fear, death and victory, but mostly WAR makes you proud of the young men who do waht we as a nation ask of them, sometimes at the loss of their own life.

WAR is the companion to the documentary movie shot by Sebastion Junger and Tim Hetherington and opens on June 25, 2010 nationwide.

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