Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Things They Cannot Say” as Want to Read:
Things They Cannot Say
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Things They Cannot Say

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  499 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
What is it like to kill? What is it like to be under fire? How do you know what's right? What can you never forget?

In The Things They Cannot Say, award-winning journalist and author Kevin Sites asks these difficult questions of eleven soldiers and marines, who—by sharing the truth about their wars—display a rare courage that transcends battlefield heroics.

For each of these
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by HarperCollins (first published October 9th 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Things They Cannot Say, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Things They Cannot Say

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 09, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
This was a powerful, painful, and utterly haunting book. Not to mention the added intensity of internet links which provided actual video footage of uncensored battles, injuries, and everyday life in Iraq and Afghanistan that supplement the book itself. (And, of course, I had to watch each and every one of these bloody and disturbing videos because I’m me and totally twisted like that.)

In this wonderfully written book, stories are gathered from those who have served not only in the American mili
May 10, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
I read this alongside The Outpost (see review). This is a compelling, nuanced, and honestly introspective memoir of first-hand experiences in war. He begins with an anecdote about his guilt over failing to stop US soldiers from executing an unarmed prisoner. He is also burdened with remorse for failing to report in a timely manner (when it may have influenced America's view of the war in Iraq) other atrocities he witnessed as an embedded journalist. Although I don't recommend The Outpost, it was ...more
Steve Woods
Jan 08, 2017 Steve Woods rated it it was amazing
This is raw! A collection of accounts of the battle trauma suffered by a number of veterans, principally in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the author was embedded as a journalist. The book is prefaced by an exploration of his own experiences and the impact they had on him. The book is really a classic collection of case studies of young men, who brought back, not only physical wounds but the mental wounds , now known as PTSD. They are text book case studies. They not only show up the consistencies ...more
Feb 19, 2013 C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only on page 132 and am finding it increasingly difficult to read this book for any length of time at one sitting. It is not that the book is not well written, it is because it is an intense, emotional drain. I find myself vacillating between the urge to cry from bone-deep sorrow and wanting-to-scream-at-someone in anger for what these boys/men endured and continue to endure. Though truthfully the word endure seems to fall far short of their experience. I believe some books require reading if on ...more
Anthony Fowlkes
Apr 02, 2013 Anthony Fowlkes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
“THE THINGS THEY CANNOT SAY” written by Kevin Sites, an independent cameraman that goes into combat zones with Soldiers and Marines to document what really happens in the heat of war. This book follows the lives of several people in the U.S and foreign armed forces and their hardships during and post war. Kevin Sites wrote this book with the intention of informing. He’s also posted several YouTube videos of what he recorded. It’s very informative. The book also is meant to give insight into a Ma ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Trina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This has to be one of the most intense books I have ever read. I am not a soldier, nor has anyone very close to me been in situations such as the stories told in this book. I am not quite sure why I entered the goodreads drawing to win this book, but I am so glad that I did.

At times throughout the book, the stories of war, death and the emotions were so great that I felt as though I could cry for all the pain the people were going through. It is not another war book though. It captures the lives
Dec 03, 2014 Robin rated it really liked it
This book details the worst moments in the lives of soldiers at war from their point of view, illustrating how they often return from the physical life and death struggle of war to an anguished psychological life and death struggle in the aftermath. The author makes the very compelling case that when we, as citizens, send our soldiers to war, we have a moral obligation to hear their stories and take a share of the burdens they carry back with them. I have taken this lesson to heart and am very g ...more
Mark Heywood
Feb 16, 2013 Mark Heywood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ebook
I read a lot of history books, particularly on war. Most history is about war, as sadly war often defines us. Most books I read on this subject focus only on what happened, why and the outcome on nations. This book is about what happens to those we send to fight them, a much lesser told story, but one that really needs to be understood by more people. The book is not explicitly anti or pro war, it just explains the hidden cost most want to ignore. For me the message is not for a nation to avoid ...more
Todd Tisch
Feb 11, 2013 Todd Tisch rated it it was amazing
Absolutely intense and personal look into the acts of commission and omission that our servicemen and women face in war and how they bring it back with them. This book is compiled through interviews with soldiers of different nations and from wars from Vietnam to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The mental stresses they bring back with them and the toll it has on them makes the stark realization that we as a nation have a future filled with individuals who served their country willingly ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Leah rated it really liked it
This book very clearly addresses a problem that our society tends to place out of sight, the effects of war on those who are actually engaged in it. We tend to keep our conflicts at an arms length, especially the most current one, which puts us in a poor position to understand the experiences that our soldiers go through. As a person who is in the presence of death nearly every time I work, I can understand the burden that it places on your psyche. This book clearly tells the tale of soldiers fr ...more
Jul 29, 2013 MaryJS rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
7/31/13. A must read for anyone who cares about veterans. Kevin Sites has done a good job of looking at the hidden costs of war on the young men our country sends to fight our wars. This book does a wonderful job of explicating the psychological and spiritual wounds combat inflicts on those who fight as well as those who observe. As a 2013 book, I wish Sites had included a woman's experience/perspective but hopefully he will do this in his next work. As a trauma psychologist, I was very pleased ...more
Sep 21, 2012 Helena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
I recieved this book through a First Reads giveaway.

I originally signed op for this book for my husband, who reads mostly military books. In the end I liked it more than him.

The stories are amazing, and its shocking to hear some of the things said. Its heartbreaking to imagine so many young men killing others. Its given me a lot of perspective.

I would recommend this to any American. We should all strive to understand the sacrifices being made for us.
Sep 01, 2012 Lourdes rated it it was amazing

If you want to get a firsthand account of what horrors some of our soldiers have seen and been through, and what the after effects are that follow them home to their regular lives and families, read this book. We may never have to go through what they did, but seeing their side and seeing some of their photos will make you see things in a different light too.

Christopher Schmidt
Feb 25, 2014 Christopher Schmidt rated it it was amazing
As a veteran this book helped me realize that I am not alone. There are so many stories left untold. A great read.
George Nap
Nov 26, 2016 George Nap rated it really liked it
Hard book to read, harder as it progressed. There is hope within despair, but the journey is arduous for the truly reflective. Sites asks us to challenge ourselves while he takes us on a journey of personal cleansing through the stories of others. Redemption, remorse, recovery and revelation, where we end up is our choice and dependent on our personal honesty, our "inner history" vs "outer fate" (pg 219).

Give it a read if you are trying to understand.
Sep 22, 2016 Alicia rated it really liked it
I thought this book intriguing to say the least. I think it is important to discuss the aftermath of war, the toll it not only has on the country but the individuals caught in the middle. It is unfortunate that the leaders who bring these men into the crossfire of war, don't fully understand the extent of the trauma that seems to be spiking thereafter. Not only in these current wars, but the wars before us.
Sep 01, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
I expected to have a lot of trouble getting into this book. That proved to be correct – but not for the reason I was anticipating. I thought I would find descriptions of war, potentially graphic scenes of battle, and confessions to acts that conscionable men would never do in civilized society. Instead, the first part of the book was made up of personal soul-searching by the author. The author talked about things that he as a journalist witnessed – and perhaps could have directly influenced if h ...more
Jul 01, 2016 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should probably do a bit more research on how well Sites' work has been received by both his journalist colleagues and combat veterans who have read his work. I loved the line wherein the Dutch sniper tells him, "I hate jouralists," and Sites replies with, "Get in line." I think Sites has some extremely valuable insights into how we as a society are disconnected from what it is we have our warriors do in our (collective) name (see Andrew Bacevich, "Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their S ...more
Bryan Salgado
Mar 07, 2013 Bryan Salgado rated it really liked it
Well first of all, this book is amazing in many ways. Kevin Sites really got to know these soldiers that are out there suffering all day long for the war and to see him out there too also made me thing that he is pretty brave. I really like the way of how he introduces the reader to the soldier that he is interviewing, by talking about his past, or where he was from, it's pretty essential that he would put that in because it keeps me more interested. Overall this book is pretty great if you want ...more
Apr 23, 2014 Rage rated it liked it
Shelves: military
I have a kind of weird criticism for this? The focus is ostensibly the soldiers and their stories and the "things they cannot say." But a lot of the book is about the author, who seems to be as deeply haunted by his demons as some of his interviewees' are by theirs. if this were an autobiography, why not? but to me it seemed disrespectful that he had to constantly interrupt other peoples' stories to remind us about his experiences and his guilt and his etc. was it a way of showing how genuinely ...more
Jul 08, 2015 Jack rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: veterans and friends and family of them
Sarah's review pretty much hits the nail on the head, and she described my thoughts about this book better than I probably could. The book's purpose is to look directly at the violence of war and killing others, asking not only how soldiers do it, but how they handle it- or even if they can handle it. Kevin Sites really makes a case on why sharing traumatic stories is the first step to recovery amongst veterans. I have family who have served in every US Military branch (yes, even the Coast Guard ...more
Ana-Maria Bujor
I came across this book soon after finishing an online course about the paradoxes of war offered by Princeton (check it out as well!). It completely changed my perspective and I was looking to find out more. This book is amazing for doing exactly that, by providing the untold stories of those who fight, kill and then come back home.

The book tells their stories, which were collected by the author, a war journalist. The book is very honest, at times brutal, telling about the reality of mental and
Apr 15, 2016 Larajoline rated it liked it
When I began this book, I was mentally prepared to be confronted with horrific stories of war. It's no secret that soldier witness things we in the "normal" world can't even imagine and I was excited to finally read some unfiltered truth. And there were many things that shocked and brought light to this hostile environment these men and women are living in.

But sadly there was one major factor that bugged me. To me the purpose of this book was not the sharing of soldiers' stories, it felt as if t
Andrew Lovell
Apr 09, 2016 Andrew Lovell rated it it was amazing
Such an amazing compilation of war stories from the lives of US veterans... Almost all who are struggling with one form or another of PTSD. From WWII- Korea/ Vietnam- Iraq/ Afghanistan, this book does not glorify war, does not condemn war, nor does it take sides. It simply shows what it is like to live with decisions that only one who is caught up in war has had to make during battle. To kill in, to help the dying, to neglect the dying or endangered enemy in combat, to live with the devastating ...more
Dec 16, 2015 Candido rated it it was amazing
The side of war nobody's speaking of. What fills me with anger is that certain people are profiting by making WAR a subject of entertainment. I wasn't paying much attention to it-by that i mean some movies and especially video-games nowadays-before reading the book. It's absurd to praise war in the sake of entertainment and profit, that many of those doing it had never experienced it first-hand. What fills me with anger as well is that shifting through pages i was in no power to help the individ ...more
Apr 10, 2016 A.Foulds rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, nonfiction
I loved this book. I read in a literal day, that is how much I couldn't bear to put it down. Full of raw pain, honesty, strength, the struggle with betrayal and injustice and the fight between the good and bad of a humans own soul, this book captured it all perfectly and left me crying on the floor after the first chapter. (Figuratively, not literally, but oh the emotions!).

This is such an intense and powerful book. It really highlights war in all it's uncensored and haunting truth, and is a rea
Dec 12, 2015 Fred rated it really liked it
Written by journalist/author, Kevin Sites, he seems to be a hero to tell these stories about soldiers and marines experiences before and after Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Kevin started this Book in Boston's Harvard University (in Cambridge) with a $60,000 "Stipend" payment/award.
The Iraq war was led by U.S. to defeat Saddam Hussein's government.
The Afghanistan war was led by U.S. after their bombing September 11 of N.Y. World Trade Centers.
Kevin writes about war and courage experiences, many e
Spencer Torrico
Jul 22, 2013 Spencer Torrico rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
It took me unusually long to read this but that was because of school. In no way was it because the book was boring. The book was quite the opposite in fact.

I've read many military themed books but never one like this, it didn't focus on the combat or the journey from youth to being in the military, it focused on the real effects and trauma that combat can have on people and how those people cope with what they've been through. Some can't ever be the same again, while others find a good balance
Mar 28, 2013 Brittiany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, library
This was an interesting insight into the mind of returning soldiers. You see and hear of so many who have a hard time readjusting to civilian life, and this explains why.

There are so many things they shield us from- not only the terrorists they keep us safe from, but all the details of just what it takes to do that. While I understand why they don't want to share those things with their loved ones, I wish more of them felt safe enough to talk to someone about those things without fear of judgmen
Bruce Nordstrom
Jul 13, 2014 Bruce Nordstrom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians. Citizens of the United States.
This book is one of the greatest books I've read in the last few years. This is a journalist interviewing American soldiers in Iraq, and Afganistian, and then followup stories from what has happened to them when they get back home. It becomes depressing to see how many of them have turned to drugs, alachol, and suicide to ease the pain of their wartime experiences. The author does not spare himself, or make judgements, but rather includes his own experiences as a war reporter and cameraman. He h ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
BEP090P2: Things that caught my eye from this book. 5 12 Dec 08, 2014 10:43AM  
  • Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War
  • On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin
  • My War: Killing Time in Iraq
  • The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers
  • Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking
  • Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death
  • No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan
  • Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq
  • They Fought for Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest Hit Unit in Iraq
  • How to Get Away With Murder in America
  • Mass Casualties: A Young Medic's True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq
  • The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows
  • Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital
  • The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time And Fighting Wars
  • Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web
  • Thank You for Your Service
  • The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq
  • Tim Hetherington: Infidel
Kevin Sites has spent the past decade reporting on global war and disaster for ABC, NBC, CNN, and Yahoo! News. In 2005, he became Yahoo!’s first correspondent and covered every major conflict in the world in a single year for his website, “Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone.”

The project helped inspire the use of “backpack journalism” as tool for immersive reporting. He is the author of two books for Harp
More about Kevin Sites...

Share This Book

“Failure to communalize grief can imprison a person in endless swinging between rage and emotional deadness as a permanent way of being in the world.” 1 likes
“in his book Achilles in Vietnam, former Veterans Affairs psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Shay warns about what happens, to both soldiers and society, when those stories are never told. “We can never fathom the soldier’s grief if we do not know the human attachment which battle nourishes and then amputates,” he says. “Failure to communalize grief can imprison a person in endless swinging between rage and emotional deadness as a permanent way of being in the world.” 1 likes
More quotes…