A Soldier's Reckoning of Our Longest War
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Beschreibung des Verlags
"Eloquent, devastating . . . packed with gimlet-eyed analysis - cultural, economic, historical - of how American life came to look the way it does . . . Edstrom's keen observational powers encompass both the physical world and social nuance." -Los Angeles Review of Books
A manifesto about America's unchallenged war machine, from an Afghanistan veteran and new kind of military hero.
Before engaging in war, Erik Edstrom asks us to imagine three, rarely imagined scenarios: First, imagine your own death. Second, imagine war from "the other side." Third: Imagine what might have been if the war had never been fought. Pursuing these realities through his own combat experience, Erik reaches the unavoidable conclusion about America at war. But that realization came too late-the damage had been done.
Erik Edstrom grew up in suburban Massachusetts with an idealistic desire to make an impact, ultimately leading him to the gates of West Point. Five years later, he was deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry lieutenant. Throughout his military career, he confronted atrocities, buried his friends, wrestled with depression, and struggled with an understanding that the war he fought in, and the youth he traded to prepare for it, was in contribution to a bitter truth: The War on Terror is not just a tragedy, but a crime. The deeper tragedy is that our country lacks the courage and conviction to say so.
Un-American is a hybrid of social commentary and memoir that exposes how blind support for war exacerbates the problems it's intended to resolve, devastates the people allegedly being helped, and diverts assets from far larger threats like climate change. Un-American is a revolutionary act, offering a blueprint for redressing America's relationship with patriotism, the military, and military spending.
Edstrom, a former U.S. Army infantry platoon leader in Afghanistan, debuts with a searing indictment of American militarism grounded in his transformation from gung-ho West Point plebe to embittered PTSD sufferer. Interspersing his account with song lyrics, novel excerpts, statements from U.S. military leaders, and media reports, Edstrom describes the war in Afghanistan as "morally dubious, illegal in its scope, and unjust in terms of its proportionality." He reveals numerous instances in which U.S. military leaders covered up civilian casualties, and laments the futility of expecting poorly trained national guardsmen "to fight a politically sensitive, ethnically charged guerilla war." Documenting the war's physical and psychological effects, Edstrom describes his driver "shaking with adrenaline" after their armored vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device containing "bits of bicycle chain," and notes that one of his soldiers committed suicide after returning home; another is currently serving life in prison for murder. He bolsters his antiwar arguments with an impressive array of evidence, and bemoans the trillions of dollars devoted to U.S. military interventions around the world, which he feels would be better spent to combat climate change and economic inequality. This outraged, well-informed jeremiad will galvanize readers who agree with Edstrom's assessment that the "war on terror" is "self-perpetuating, self-defeating, and immoral."