They were collectively known as “The Rock.” For one year, in 2007-2008, Sebastian Junger accompanied 30 men—a single platoon—from the storied 2nd battalion of the U.S. Army as they fought their way through a remote valley in eastern Afghanistan.Over the course of five trips, Junger was in more firefights than he could count, as men he knew were killed or wounded and he himself was almost killed. His relationship with these soldiers grew so close that they considered him part of the platoon, and he enjoyed an access and a candidness that few, if any, journalists ever attain.
War is a narrative about combat: the fear of dying, the trauma of killing and the love between platoon-mates who would rather perish than let each other down. Gripping, honest and intense, War explores the neurological, psychological and social elements of combat, as well as the incredible bonds that form between these small groups of men. This is not a book about Afghanistan or the “War on Terror”; it is a book about all men, in all wars. Junger set out to answer what he thought of as the “hand-grenade question”: why would a man throw himself on a hand grenade to save other men he has known for probably only a few months? The answer is elusive but profound, going to the heart of what it means not just to be a soldier, but to be human.
War is insanely exciting.... Don't underestimate the power of that revelation, warns bestselling author and Vanity Fair contributing editor Junger (The Perfect Storm). The war in Afghanistan contains brutal trauma but also transcendent purpose in this riveting combat narrative. Junger spent 14 months in 2007 2008 intermittently embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, one of the bloodiest corners of the conflict. The soldiers are a scruffy, warped lot, with unkempt uniforms they sometimes do battle in shorts and flip-flops and a ritual of administering friendly beatings to new arrivals, but Junger finds them to be superlative soldiers. Junger experiences everything they do nerve-racking patrols, terrifying roadside bombings and ambushes, stultifying weeks in camp when they long for a firefight to relieve the tedium. Despite the stress and the grief when buddies die, the author finds war to be something of an exalted state: soldiers experience an almost sexual thrill in the excitement of a firefight a response Junger struggles to understand and a profound sense of commitment to subordinating their self-interests to the good of the unit. Junger mixes visceral combat scenes raptly aware of his own fear and exhaustion with quieter reportage and insightful discussions of the physiology, social psychology, and even genetics of soldiering. The result is an unforgettable portrait of men under fire.
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