We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding--"tribes." This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.
Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians-but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today.
Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Tribe explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Tribe is a quick read that brims with passion and conviction. Using surprising historical anecdotes about the American frontier and interviews with survivors of modern wars, Sebastian Junger—the bestselling author of The Perfect Storm—makes the argument that many of modern society’s problems can be attributed to the dissolution of tribalism. What unites European settlers who ran away to join Native American tribes in the 18th century and combat soldiers returning from tours in Afghanistan is the sober realization that modern life, for all its comforts, lacks an orientation toward the collective good.
In this small but perfectly lucid book, National Magazine Award winning journalist Junger (War) meditates on tribal sentiment, how it aids "loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning," and how the disappearance of this sentiment has had toxic consequences for modern societies. During the U.S.'s wars of settlement with its native population, many white men defected to, and many white captives were reluctant to return from, what Junger describes as a Stone Age lifestyle; he wonders why, and suspects that the material benefits of Western culture couldn't compete with "the intensely communal nature of an Indian tribe," which was "more or less run by consensus and broadly egalitarian." In the present day, the close interdependence of a tribal lifestyle and its shared resources are things Westerners only experience in combat situations and disasters. For all the comfort of modern society, Junger thinks, its "profound alienation" has led in America to income inequality, behaviors destructive to the environment, high rates of suicide and mental illness (including PTSD), and rampage shootings. Ending with a look at the country's divisive political rhetoric, Junger suggests that the U.S. could cure its ills if we could only focus on the collective good.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Clear as Mud
The mud in the Grunt's clothes stays in spite of years of soap. Likewise the stains on his soul left by war. This author not only acknowledges the fact, but seeks out why, and makes it clear.
Too bad the world that needs to hear his words, is deafened by the loss of tribe.
A must read
Insightful, valuable perspective.
Short & Sweet. Very compelling and on point.