War for most of us is mainly experienced from afar, through political speeches and special reports—a perspective rather distant from the one of those who are doing the fighting. War (available 5/11), a gripping book about soldiers’ experience of the war in Afghanistan, is a remarkable attempt at reconciling the difference.
During five trips over 15 months, Sebastian Junger (author of The Perfect Storm) resided at a makeshift “outpost” in the highly contested Korangal Valley of eastern Afghanistan. There he shadowed the Second Platoon—made up of some of the hardiest infantrymen in Afghanistan—as its troops endured the constant threat of death in the form of ambushes, firefights and roadside bombs. Junger’s book, based on notes and handheld camera footage, is a tightly written, adrenaline-filled account of the rather grim psychological, physiological and tactical realities of modern battle. If the Afghanistan war is one worth inspecting closely, War is the closest one should hope to get.
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