An excellent review of War by Sebastian Junger and the documentary film Restrepo from Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger. The book and the film follow a group of American soldiers during their deployment in Afghanistan in the very dangerous Korengal Valley. I have seen bits of Restrepo but didn't read War so far, but I certainly intend to read it soon.
Some bits that interested me in this review :
A quote from the book :
The moral basis of the war doesn’t seem to interest soldiers much, and its long-term success or failure has a relevance of almost zero. Soldiers worry about those things about as much as farmhands worry about the global economy, which is to say, they recognize stupidity when it’s right in front of them but they generally leave the big picture to others.
And this :
Junger’s other revelation in War, while not original, is also reinforced by tandem showing and telling. It is that if there is one thing that these young men love more than war itself, it is one another. They are a brotherhood; they die and live by that. Theirs is a love so profound that it compels them to act with the ultimate selflessness, to sacrifice their own safety for the safety of the group. It’s a great thing, but may it spoil them for any love that comes after, and overwhelm any love that came before? Junger writes:
"When men say that they miss combat, it’s not that they actually miss getting shot at—you’d have to be deranged—it’s that they miss being in a world where everything is important and nothing is taken for granted. They miss being in a world where human relations are entirely governed by whether you can trust the other person with your life."
The whole piece makes an excellent reading.
It is striking that in 2009, after all the dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, all the money and energy spent in this valley, the Korengal was judged unwinable by General McChrystal and all American troops were ordered out, leaving the valley to the Taliban.