The story here has nothing to do with politics, macro foreign policy or terrorism, per se. Junger looks at the experience of a small band of soldiers at the front lines of the war in Afghanistan, in the eastern reaches, in a valley notorious for its peril to combatants. What matters here are the mechanisms, physical and emotional, that bind the soldiers to one another. What they consider funny, what topics are off limits, how they rely on each other, criticize each other, support each other, how they cope with or thrive on the reality of war. This book is as much a look at war through the lenses of psychology and anthropology as it is a portrait of front-line combat. A quick look at the Sources and References, rich with articles from publications like Neurocardiology Letters, American Psychological Association Monitor, Gerontologist, Proceedings of this and that, shows that there is far more going in War
than adrenaline, blood and bullets. Not only does Junger examine the significance of group interactions among company members, but looks to what the roots of this construction might be in the development of homo sapiens as a species. He looks at how group cohesion and situational preparation affect fear, and how, for some, war is less a horror to be avoided and forgotten than the pinnacle of one’s existence. The book is divided into three sections, Fear, Killing and Love. The first is predominantly a familiar sort of war reportage, well done, but nothing new. The latter sections look beyond the obvious and get into some very interesting material. War
is a very smart book that will take you places you might not expect to go. It is well worth the journey.