Friday, January 21, 2011

War by Sebastian Junger

From the Amazon product description: 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.

This was a hard book to listen to, I had to kind of psyche myself up to go back to the battle each time I returned to the audio. I kept at it because it's about guys like my guys, the families I visit each day are Marines and Sailors, and many of the Marines are serving in Afghanistan. The returning Marines are expected to pick back up with their families and careers as if nothing has happened. But something has happened and this book takes the rest of us there to experience a taste of it. Junger does that really well. Embedded in an Army platoon, he relays both the day to day action and the day to day boredom in a straight forward narrative that is fairly easy to follow. It's the military - there are acronyms and weapon names and Army ranks that I wasn't familiar with, and it's Afghanistan - with it's confusing terrain of names, so I occasionally felt a little lost. But this book isn't about being able to explain the mechanics of the war by the time you reach the end, it's about being able to experience and feel the war as if you are immersed in it. I came to care about the soldiers in the story even if I couldn't keep track of them well enough to complete a matching exercise of who's who! Junger includes some related material about war in general, research about men in war,and the personal stories of some of the soldiers beyond the war - all of these things complement the main narrative and don't feel too intrusive just a little bit intrusive...I wanted him to get back to the "real" story! I passed this one on to a co-worker and told her she had to listen to it, it should be required listening for all of us who work with these guys. My true feelings go beyond that, it should be required listening for every voting person in our country - if we're going to send these young men off to battle, we should have an inkling of what we have done.

Sebastian Junger has an interesting website and there I found the trailer for the movie, Restrepo. Restrepo was filmed at the same time as War was written, in the audiobook bonus material Junger describes how he and his partner filmed during active times and then he wrote during quieter times. Restrepo comes out this year and I can't wait to go see it. I may even be able to persuade Ex-Marine to go with me for a date night! And then...this would count towards the Page to Screen challenge - if I had signed up for it.

This was a win from Kristi at Books and Needlepoint.

Counts towards tons o' challenges....



4 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I've got this in print version. It sounds like a very powerful book.

audreygeddes said...

War sounds like an excellent book. Thanks for the great review and the link to the author's website! You might also enjoy Aileen G. Baron's new historical fiction novel out called, The Scorpion's Bite. I just finished it and absolutely became intrigued with the characters and story. The author has a strong background in archeology and uses that knowledge extensively.

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

This is one that I actually didn't like in audio format. It was so dispassionately told (and I understand that Junger's a journalist, and that is how a journalist tells a story), but I pushed through it for a review, and it felt like a chore. I think I likely would appreciate the written account a bit more. Thanks for the review!

Teresa said...

I can see why this was such a contrast to the other book you had going. Thanks for linking up!