The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers
By Nancy Sherman
W.W. Norton; 338 pages
It's difficult to remain neutral when it comes to war. Mindful of that fact, Sherman takes pains to declare on the very first page of her new book that it is "not a political tract for or against a war." But the reader will nonetheless find much within to hate about armed conflict. It would be hard not to. Based on interviews with 40 soldiers, most of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Untold War tells tales of mangled limbs and shattered minds, like one about an idealistic West Point prof who went to Iraq and took his own life in disillusionment. Given Sherman's training in psychoanalysis and philosophy, it is not surprising that her prose can grow alarmingly academic at times. (Many will not care that "the distance between an Aristotelian and Stoic-inspired training for war is considerable.") Yet she successfully makes the case that, with an all-volunteer military, the public has averted its eyes from the psychic damage of our current wars. Says Sherman: "War's residue should not just be a soldier's private burden."