Laura's Reviews > War

War by Sebastian Junger
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Feb 26, 11

Read in February, 2011

I plowed through this book in just a few days because the closeness of the author's perspective to the subject's experience made for a compelling read. It gave a better idea of the psychology of the combat soldier and paired with watching the documentary movie Restrepo by the same producer/writer team gave a good taste of combat side of the war in Afghanistan. That closeness and limited focus on the perspective of the soldier however left the reader with a lot of questions and lack of understanding of the place and the people they are fighting, although that may be fairly similar to the experience of the soldiers so it all kind of makes sense. The author Sebastian Junger writes a lot about his emotions and his feelings in a way that feels a bit indulgent as it is the least important or intense experience of everyone in the setting but it also feels very authentic and honest. The movie Restrepo avoids this personal perspective as you only hear the interviewer's voice once or twice and know nothing about them. The movie also shows the reaction of the impoverished civilians to a bombing of their homes in a fairly powerful scene. This perspective is missing from the book. Though Junger claims to be maintaining journalistic objectivity, it is clear that this is impossible in this type of journalist/military embedding. There is a small section of the book which deals with the more general motivation and psychology of soldiers and their relationship to the other soldiers in their unit and how that affects their experience in combat. That section is fascinating, clearly written, and on its own makes the book worth reading. In any case this whole book/movie combination will certainly spur me to read even about Afghanistan and also the psychology of war and I think it is a worthwhile combination for anyone at all interested in journalism or warfare.
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