Sebastian Junger’s War is a narration of one of many USplatoon’s encounters battling in an isolated settlement within theKorengal Valley of Afghanistan. Junger aims at ensuring readersbecome aware of the war experiences for soldiers fighting on frontlines. War is themed on the author’s experiences workinglike an embedded reporter. The book is an interesting read because itinvolves first-hand experience recounts by the writer. This makes thestory Junger presents appear real.
In a period of one year, Junger visits the men working in the 173rdairborne task force, which is positioned at the Korengal Valley, thespecific center of nowhere. The valley has a treacherous, perilouslandscape, which is very unfavorable for the soldiers fighting. Whencontemplating about the area’s history: many troops have protestedto the traps of Hindu Kush, a 500 mile mountain edge separatingPakistan from Afghanistan, yet all these former troops have beenunable to conquer. Illustrations are Alexander the Great whoexperienced immense losses at the region, as well as Russians whowere drawn away from the valley by locals. Tremendous achievementswere however made in 2006, when the tenth Mountain Division becamethe first troop to take over the south area of Hindu Kush. Americantroops supposed the Taliban could have a relevant presence on theregion, which they did, though as Junger notes the Taliban were alsoapprehensive of the regions. In the book, Junger endeavors to explainhow the American troops have made it in the apparently harshconditions, unreachable region and very life threatening life at war.
The book is authentic. The author describes all his experiences indetail. In addition, everything that happens at the Korengal is wellillustrated in authoritative detail, since it is first-handexperience. The author does not leave any detail unexplained, be itthe difficulty making coffee, the arrangements for going to thetoilet, computer games, images of bikini dressed females tacked towalls with ammunition belts. Additionally, he explains the physicaldiscomfort, which includes the dirt, bugs and heat. The authoremphasizes on the boredom, intermittent patrols and random compoundfiring. An example of this first-hand experience is when Jungerexplains what happens one day following Junger and the photographer’sarrival at the Korengal Outpost (Junger 101). While on patrol withthe Battle Company, a far-away tapping exploded from the surroundinghills. Observing the Korengal Valley, it becomes possible to presumethe soldiers are roving from North California slopes. Rocks concealthe hardly discernable trails followed by troops, which makes itimpossible to imagine how vegetation grows in the regions. Thesoldiers complain about the landscape, explaining that once they goup the hill and return, their trousers are normally in shreds.
The book manages to explain why soldiers endanger their lives inbattle. Junger concentrates on the platoon’s sociology, thecommunication amid the men, their reliance of each other as well asthe unity created by dependence. He does this with the intention ofexplaining why young citizens volunteer to place their lives at perilon behalf of comrades, to comprehend the duty they feel towards oneanother. The author describes men approaching death to attempt toassist one of their own that might get hurt, soldiers that arewounded leaving the safety of hospitals and going back to fight withfellow soldiers. It becomes apparent that there exists a groupdynamic, which is stronger compared to the person’s individualinterest. One soldier explains that the platoon acts like family,fellow soldiers are like brothers. Although it is odd that they donot publicly display the affection for one another, which may not bestrange considering they are young males unable to depict theirstrong emotional connections. Utilizing scientific studies by the USarmy, the book makes it clear that ties of brotherhood in battle arenot something that happens temporary, but are a psychologicalnecessity. There are numerous scenes in the book where soldiers passaway, as well as others breaking down. An illustration is the passingaway of Restrepo, a soldier in the battle (Junger 165). The deathdisheartens the troops who feel the immense loss of one of their own.Interesting to note is how losing someone encourages the troop tofight harder. The bond amid the soldiers is Junger’s viewpoint ofthe war.
War is a great representation of the war. It demonstrates thetiny actions happening in a large theater, and does not disregard theinterior equivalent with the disagreements in the heart and mind ofthe soldiers at war. People that have not been to war in Afghanistan,the discernment of it are simply an imagination of what happens inthe battlefield, and the soldier’s experiences. However, Warinforms on the story of soldiers, the challenges they experience,harsh conditions and mostly life-threatening encounters in moredetail. The firebases where they stay have been walled off usingHesco barricades, plastic containers that resemble off ramp divisionswithin a highway. Reading the book, it becomes possible to appreciatethe role soldiers play in battle, from lacking even the most basicrights as privacy, or hot meals. Junger does not complicate how hemakes the descriptions. This is apparent in how the author makesweapons look simple and routine. Through the employment of thephrases and illustrations the soldiers apply for the tools, Jungerdraws readers closer to the day-to-day life of the soldiers. Thereader is capable of having a clear view of living within a firebase,which is a dirty place filled with soldiers that do not shower for aslong as a month, unshaved, who fart, swear, narrate smutty stories,use shitters in the presence of one another and burp.
The book is informative, credible and real in its narration.However, it also has some negative aspects. Junger’s becoming onethe unit members makes most of the writing focus on his experiences.In most instances, the concentration is on the author, and it isalmost as if the photographer’s role has become insignificant. Mostof the characters in the platoon are just names, as they aresparingly discussed and soon fade away. Such writing is appropriateif Junger was writing on the escapades of a war journalist. Yet inthe book, the author seems to be focusing more on young men that arefighting incognito in a hellish surrounding, which makes it a betteridea for the author to eliminate himself or herself from the mainpicture of the story. Another negative is that although Junger visitsAfghanistan for five times, the book fails to insist on thechronology, only informing on a one-month stay. This confuses thereader unable to differentiate the associations amid events, which isimportant in ensuring the reader is grounded.
Junger, Sebastian. War.New York: Twelve, 2010. Internet resource.