[Reading] ➷ What It Is Like to Go to War By Karl Marlantes – Motyourdrive.co.uk

What It Is Like to Go to War txt What It Is Like to Go to War, text ebook What It Is Like to Go to War, adobe reader What It Is Like to Go to War, chapter 2 What It Is Like to Go to War, What It Is Like to Go to War 76ab5c From The Author Of The New York Times Bestseller Matterhorn, This Is A Powerful Nonfiction Book About The Experience Of Combat And How Inadequately We Prepare Our Young Men And Women For WarWar Is As Old As Humankind, But In The Past, Warriors Were Prepared For Battle By Ritual, Religion And Literature Which Also Helped Bring Them Home In A Compelling Narrative, Marlantes Weaves Riveting Accounts Of His Combat Experiences With Thoughtful Analysis, Self Examination And His Readings From Homer To The Mahabharata To Jung He Talks Frankly About How He Is Haunted By The Face Of The Young North Vietnamese Soldier He Killed At Close Quarters And How He Finally Finds A Way To Make Peace With His Past Marlantes Discusses The Daily Contradictions That Warriors Face In The Grind Of War, Where Each Battle Requires Them To Take Life Or Spare Life, And Where They Enter A State He Likens To The Fervor Of Religious EcstasyJust As Matterhorn Is Already Being Acclaimed As A Classic Of War Literature, What It Is Like To Go To War Is Set To Become Required Reading For Anyone Soldier Or Civilian Interested In This Visceral And All Too Essential Part Of The Human Experience


About the Author: Karl Marlantes

A graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Karl Marlantes served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals He is the author of Matterhorn, which won the William E Colby Award given by the Pritzker Military Library, the Center For Fiction s Flaherty Dunnan First Nov



10 thoughts on “What It Is Like to Go to War

  1. says:

    I am of the age where I could very well have been a veteran of the Vietnam War Or, I could have died there But I was spared that, first by student deferments and then the timeliness of the Paris Peace Talks However, I know and have known many men who fought there On the surface, they seem fine Their silence about their experiences is uniform Yet, I know one man who cannot stand to be touched He has an exaggerated startle response at the slightest contact And a good lady friend had a lengthy relationship with another veteran of that war That ended after too many nights shattered by his night terrors and, on than one occasion his choking her, believing he was engaged in hand to hand combat.My Uncle celebrated his 21st birthday at Hickham Field on December 7, 1941 During his lifetime he never spoke of that morning Island hopping across the Pacific, his only story regarding New Guinea was having been in the same unit as Mario Lanza He didn t like him Crude, vulgar, he described him.But if you want to know what it is like to go to war, Karl Marlantes will tell you He leaves no doubt as to what it is like.The briefest biography of Karl Marlantes immediately informs the reader his books will not be ordinary fare A National Merit Scholar, Marlantes attended Yale University He attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, interrupted by his service in Vietnam as a young Lieutenant There he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Navy Cross, and twelve Air Medals Marlantes earned the right to be called a warrior and to educate those who have never been to war what it means to be one.Marlantes battled thirty years to achieve publication of his novel Matterhorn in 2010 Now, Marlantes has followed up his novel with a memoir on his experiences in Vietnam and his opinions on how young men sent into war are done so without the necessary education to understand what they will experience and without the appropriate services necessary to reintegrate them into civilian life What it is Like to Go to War is a hard hitting portrait of the experience of war and its effect on the human psyche When an author of Marlantes stature rubs elbows with Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly, the end result is an eloquent, articulate, and psychologically astute punch to the gut.Generations ago, young men were sent to war by old men who had forgotten what it was like That is no longer the case Our military has grown successively younger No longer do green young men have the benefit of older career non coms and officers who have fought in previous wars Nor have the vast majority of our nation s leaders had actual combat experience The graying Master Sergeant portrayed by Sam Elliott in We Were Soldiers is fast becoming a thing of the past.Marlantes expresses disdain for congressional combat junkets where representatives never see the results of actual combat Their experience is one of calm and quiet, conducted to assure their constituency that all things are under control and there is nothing to worry about.Interlaced with Marlantes personal experiences are frequent references to classic military quotations and writings that address the essence of what it is like to go to war Here, Marlantes shows us ancient cultural examples including the Celtic mythos surrounding Cuchulain, examples of the Code of Bushido, and some pointed quotations from General Patton addressing the importance of the principles of loyalty flowing from the top of leadership down to the enlisted man being important than its flow in the opposite direction.Marlantes is merciless in his exposure of lying in the military world for the protection of career reputation and personal aggrandizement His primary example centered on the false importance of body counts during the Vietnam War Marlantes cheered Schwarzkopf when that General indicated the number of Republican Guard destroyed was irrelevant that what mattered what who gave in first In the end, that is what matters.Today, unless we have family members stationed in a hot spot, that we have troops engaged in military operations causes us little concern Marlantes reminds us, Warriors deal with death They take life away from others This is normally the role of GodThe Marine Corps taught me how to kill but it didn t teach me how to deal with the killing It is impossible to read Marlantes account without realizing that our young men who have returned from Iraq and who have yet to return from Afghanistan will not be the same young men we knew when they first went there As they have served to ostensibly protect us, in turn we must now see that we acknowledge their return and welcome them home with the necessary services to lead the semblance of a normal life away from the sound of the guns.


  2. says:

    This wasn t an easy read But then, nothing about war is easy, much less the psychological and spiritual effects of war on our combat vets This was as thought provoking, challenging, and emotionally draining as any solid book about war should be A few caveats to add context to my review of the book 1 I won this book through Good Reads 2 I am a civilian 3 I am a US citizen 4 I am an opponent of the vast majority of wars that we have participated in 5 I am a counselor the counseling profession has a recent yet fast moving awareness to the effects war can have on the psyche Marlantes gently and intellectually challenged my views of war In a profession where entire scholarly journals, conferences, and specializations are dedicated to the trauma or war, I had become even set in my anti war ways This is certainly not to say that I am pro war now What I am, though, is aware of my previous sophomoric anti war views Marlantes presented a middle ground to me This is a slow read It should be this way too, as war is slow At the end I knew this was a necessary read for me It won t be long before this is required reading in High Schools hopefully we will be wise enough to require it before our youth are of age to sign up for the draft While never directly mentioning either, Marlantes helped me understand both a generation and political party I have never seen eye to eye with I have not moved to stand on the other sides of those painted lines But now, thanks to Marlantes, I stand closer to the center and have balance, understanding, and compassion What a surprisingly impacting read.


  3. says:

    Warriors must touch their souls because their job involves killing people Warriors deal with eternity Karl Marlantes, What it is Like to Go to War my little brother in Afghanistan An exploration of war Part memoir of a Marine Vietnam War , part Joseph Campbell Jungian exploration of the warrior, part critique of policy The book is also written directly to those men boys and yes, women I guess too preparing for war Having suffered PTSD from Vietnam, Marlantes uses this book to instruct younger warriors, while at the same time using the writing as therapy approach to understand his own perspectives about his past.I actually really appreciated this book If you include my brother in law, all of my brothers have seen combat My little brother and my brother in law both struggle with PTSD My brother in law served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a LT My little brother dropped out of UVA and joined 10th Mountain Division, served 15 months in Afghanistan and came home broken alcholism, addiction, suicide attempts, fights, jail, homlessness My older brother served 2 tours in Afghanistan and 2 tours in Iraq before dying in a helicopter crash in Germany So, as Marlantes relates his perspectives on war, killing, and coming home, I GET it Not from the perspective of a soldier or warrior, but from the perspective of family who sees their loved one return broken.My only critique of the book, and it is a personal critique, is Marlantes does tend to get a little pie in the sky in his policy recommendations His recommendations reminded me of the prescriptive parts of Thomas Piketty s Capital in the Twenty First Century, where he talks about a global tax on capital I knew he was right, in a perfectly rational and sane world, but also knew it was politically just a Ivory Tower wet dream to imagine a world that would be able to coordinate politically in such a way to reform global taxes to prevent future instability Marlantes falls into the prescription trap I agree with a lot of his recommendatiosn for ritual, burial of enemies, space between fighting and returning, etc., but also recognize Congress hasn t passed a 2 year budget in years AND the current President lacks a basic ability to feel empathy, so hoping our policy makers would empathize with those fighting our nation s battle, in the way Marlantes recommends, just seems to be closer to a dream castle than a war room But, HELL, if writing this book, and thinking about these best case options for reintegrating soldiers, helps future warriors, or inspires and moves the needle a bit for future policy makers OR if it just helped Karl Marlantes move a little further from the War and closer to his home , it was all worth it.


  4. says:

    So, if a lifelong pacifist liberal says a book about how to train our soldiers is a must read, it must be full of peacenik bullshit aimed at undermining the military, right Believe me, though, when I say that s not the case with Karl Marlantes What It Is Like to Go to War Marlantes brings experience and knowledge to bear on something about which I know little to nothing Yet I find the book so profound that I do call it a must read, an appellation that rarely passes my lips.The list of those who should be required to read the book is long every decisionmaker and policymaker in the Department of Defense, every NCO and officer in the military, and every member of Congress It better be on President s Obama s list of books I read this summer What It Is Like to Go to War should be assigned reading at every military academy and in any fundamental leadership course for non academy military training In fact, it is a book that should be read by everyone who relies on the military In other words, it should be read by all of us.Marlantes combines personal experience, philosophy, history, mythology, ethics, psychology and spirituality in examining how we train our warriors Marlantes has a range of ideas on how we can better prepare them for the jobs we assign them and, equally as important, to return home with the least damage to their psyche Much of what he suggests comes from his own experiences as a combat Marine in Vietnam some of which will be familiar to those who read his highly praised Matterhorn A Novel of the Vietnam War and as he tried to cope with post traumatic stress disorder after the war Even though that war was fought decades ago, Marlantes now has the benefit of perspective He argues persuasively that not only do today s soliders face many of the same issues he did, the ability to kill remotely, and seemingly antiseptically, with drones, cruise missles and the like may raise other issues Yet while recognizing modern warfare, What It Is Like to Go to War occasionally also looks to the past Marlantes argues that some primitive societies better prepared their warriors for the toll combat takes on the body and the mind Among other things, he suggests rituals to aid combat veterans, including some that would be performed immediately after a firefight He also suggests that spiritual not necessarily religious guidance not only be part of military training, but available in the combat zone and afterward, particularly since our wars are fought by the young of society At least from a layperson s perspective, much of what the book suggests does not seem to be difficult to put into practice or disruptive of military training There is no question Marlantes, a Rhodes scholar, thought long and hard about the personal consequences of combat, how we prepare our soldiers for it and how to help them deal with it afterward The book is stunning in the breadth of knowledge on which it draws yet is written to remain highly accessible It is an important book, far too important to ignore Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie.


  5. says:

    I first encountered Karl Marlantes while watching Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War I was impressed by what he had to say, and after reading What It Is Like To Go To War I can see that my first impression of him was the right one.This is a fascinating book an odd but effective blend of memoir and carefully thought out recommendations for helping soldiers to come to terms with the nature of their profession and the killing it entails and reintegrate with their societies when they return from war.Sometimes this mix of recollection and recommendation jars a little, but in the main this is a very interesting read Marlantes writes well and vividly, bringing the fear, the pain, the tension and the exhilaration of war to life Yes I did mean to write exhilaration Marlantes spends some time exploring the seductive, life defining excitement of combat.As Marlantes outlines, when he was at war he was a young man in his early 20s, with a platoon of heavily armed men who would follow his every order, a brace of machine gunners, and the industrial might of the United States war machine behind him only a radio call away With a radio call he could order a hilltop pounded to dust by artillery, a village napalmed by air support, or an enemy bunker shattered by the mighty guns of offshore naval ships As a lifetime civilian I can only imagine the sense of power and importance this could bestow upon a young man.Along with this was the ever present threat of death, the utterly focused flow state of infantry fighting and the euphoria of coming out of combat both victorious and alive War may be hell, but Marlantes notes there are aspects of it that soldiers miss, feelings and experiences that they can never replicate in their civilian lives The reality of this exhilaration, and its addictive, destructive nature is something not often discussed by soldiers or those treating them for post combat issues, and Marlantes argues that this, along with other aspects of soldiering, must be recognised and discussed to help warriors come to terms with their experiences.Marlantes argues for a strongly spiritual approach to assisting soldiers, beginning from their enlistment and continuing through their service and beyond into civilian life His approach seem to me to be a soundly rational one realistically discussing the warrior experience between soldiers, setting up support systems in the military to assist soldiers in dealing with their role as dispensers of death, and to help them process the deaths of their comrades He draws on rites of passage present in many societies around the world, seeing a role for ritual, commemoration and new traditions that could not only heal soldiers after their service, but help them be better, ethical warriors while they are in uniform.I suspect that Marlantes and I wouldn t see eye to eye on politics, and I don t agree with all the positions he puts forward in this book, particularly around male and female societal roles I also tend towards the less spiritual than he does, and he focuses fairly heavily on that aspect of preparation and healing.However, his overall stance is a well considered one, hard earned through blood, pain and decades of post traumatic stress Marlantes, unlike the many armchair generals in politics both in the US and here in Australia knows very well what trite phrases such as boots on the ground , surgical strikes and collateral damage mean He has seen the heaped, broken bodies, heard the screams of men whose faces have been torn off by bombs, and mourned both his cruelly killed young comrades and the enemy soldiers he personally inflicted death upon His bitter experience, and his considered, thoughtful approach provides both engaging reading and some important contributions to the way that war veterans are helped to deal with their traumatic experiences and effectively reintegrate into civilian life after they put down their rifles.I can only hope that both politicians and military brass read this book and for the sake of both our soldiers and the people they are sent to fight that they take up some of its suggestions.


  6. says:

    The author of the popular Matterhorn A Novel of the Vietnam War has turned his talents to writing a nonfiction book about his experiences in Vietnam, how present day warriors are not trained to emotionally and spiritually deal with the jobs they physically must do, what we ve done wrong, what we need to do better He looks at the history of war and warriors in ancient cultures and mythology, and how the wars we fight are changing every day He has advice for warriors, those who are serving now, those who are trying to deal with having served, and those seemingly fearless and impressionable young who want to serve He looks at the psyches of those who kill, what emotions they are feeling And like the training, that which makes the warriors strong and loyal can also work against them I haven t underlined so many passages in a book since I was a student, trying to memorize facts.I don t remember reading a book that touched me as deeply and as personally as this one did Some of his writing is about theories, ideas, interesting to read and ponder Some is very highly personal, violent, open While I found the theories and ideas fascinating, the personal really hit home I found myself, most unexpectedly, crying I can t imagine it not having an effect on anyone living through that period But I think it is very important reading for anyone who has served or is serving, for anyone considering it, anyone who is responsible in any way for training warriors And it is also for those who oppose most or all wars It s a must read for anyone who has ever given a second thought to war.The version I read was an e book uncorrected proof, and I thank Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for giving me a copy The publication date is scheduled for September, 2011 In case you haven t already figured it out, I highly recommend this book.


  7. says:

    There s a reason why I tend to avoid autobiographical works I have a preconception that they will be self serving, arrogant, and opinionated What It Is Like to Go to War proved to be an exception While possibly a bit too spiritual to be realistically applied to the multitude of teens that typically occupy our trenches in times of war, the book was predominantly dead on serious and true What It Is Like to Go to War is written in a genuinely honest tone There is a degree of self degradation made in an effort to illustrate the true upside down, inside out world that was combat in Vietnam There are stories that are not favorable to Marlantes which were included to illustrate the human condition under extreme stress There is reasonable introspective on what could be done to lessen the impact to the soldiers dumped back into society after their usefulness in violence and killing has been exhausted And finally, there is thoughtful consideration of what we, as humans, will ultimately become with respect to the act of war.Overall, we need books like this for the record We ve reached a time when the unfiltered personal experiences of Vietnam are quickly fading forever away When only the history remains of that conflict we will sit in danger of romanticizing it, justifying it, and repeating it Knowing that this book exists provides some assurance that the raw human experience will be remembered along side the dry facts of history What It Is Like to Go to War convinced me that autobiographical works are at times absolutely necessary because of my preconception of autobiographical works.


  8. says:

    I didn t intend to read this book, but my boyfriend recently got it as an mp3 through the library, and since he never follows through on things he gets from the library, and the other mp3 I wanted to listen to was broken, I snagged this one on my way out the door one day because I have to listen to something while I walk the dogs or else I get sad.This was a bad choice to avoid sadness.About 20 mins into the walk I wanted to scrape my face off the sidewalk I felt this heaviness in my chest and on my shoulders as I listened to Marlantes tell me his story in Bronson Pinchot s voice, but not in his Balki accent, so it wasn t even amusing in that sense of fighting in Vietnam as a 1st lieutenant in the Marine Corps.But before I lose you, this isn t just another guy s reminiscences of war, though there is plenty of that Marlantes intention here was to share with anyone interested what it s really like to go to war War is somehow romanticized and glorified in society, primarily through film, literature, and media It has often also been considered a rite of passage for many young men, which Marlantes discusses in great detail for boys, they became men by experiencing war, etc, and girls became women by becoming mothers that s an ugly paraphrase, but that s not really my point right now His concern is that many young men and women now are going to war without really being mentally or spiritually prepared for what they will encounter There is plenty physical preparation that takes place, boot camp and whatnot, but no one talks to these soldiers or marines about to what to expect will happen to them psychologically.Emotions have never been high on the list of priorities when it comes to going to war Marlantes wants that to change After his own experience, he was able to recognize what his own issues were, something that not everyone who goes to war is able to figure out for themselves Marlantes talks quite a bit in the beginning about guilt the guilt he felt for making decisions that could get any number of people in his unit killed, the guilt he felt for surviving, the guilt for the damage he inflicted directly on others in a different country He reminds us that this guilt is not something that young warriors are warned about No one gives them an outlet for discussing those feelings they have, and to be frank, there s not always the time or capability to have those discussions in the middle of battle anyhow.Marlantes, however, feels that men and women joining the forces now can be better prepared from that end of things if that s part of their training from the very beginning It could help them make better decisions in the line of fire, help relieve some of the conflict they might feel It makes sense if you really think about it.He also spends time talking about the spiritual end He mentions God once or twice, but when he talks spiritualism here, he doesn t necessarily mean religion, though allows that everyone should be able to make their own decisions on that front When one is in the middle of a war something I have never personally experienced , one undoubtedly is confronted with the idea of their own mortality, and may philosophize over what might be out there There s nothing wrong with that When you have bombs going off around your face, you re welcome to do whatever it takes for you to get through the experience as far as I m concerned If you want to pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you go right ahead But Marlantes points out that again there s not as much an outlet for those sorts of morality issues that come up with spiritualism or religion how do you reconcile killing large masses of people when killing is bad Marlantes tackles a lot of serious questions like these, and I am in no way doing this book any great service It s worth reading, or listening to Bronson Pinchot, in all seriousness, was an incredible narrator, really expressing an empathy in his narration that made my heart ache.The areas I did have slight issue with particularly towards the end where Marlantes talks about violence in general and how children should be raised rubbed me the wrong way because I don t feel raising children is similar to going to war, though I understand his point was really about aggression and how aggression is reacted to in society, and children may benefit by a change in those views In any case, it didn t really resonate with me or we have differences of opinions on that front.But the rest of the book was engrossing and terrifying and makes me want to hug anyone and everyone who went through or is in service, especially the ones who may not know how to deal with any of the emotions or experiences Marlantes details in his book.


  9. says:

    Karl Marlantes and I share a good bit in common as regards the subject matter of this book We both entered the service as Privates in 1964 he a Marine, me the Army , we both were commissioned as Lieutenants through OCS, and we were both rifle platoon leaders and interim company commanders in Vietnam in 1966 I am somewhat conflicted in commenting on this book I read it principally because I read Matterhorn and and felt that it was the only Vietnam novel that I have encountered that was worth ones time reading it was spot on accurate and Marlantes is an excellent writer As long as he sticks to describing what it was like to be in combat, I am impressed My experience was, of course, somewhat different This is natural because no two people react to combat in exactly the same way However, when he goes off on other tangents, I become a little less comfortable In a nutshell, I believe he has a tendency to over intellectualize something that is essentially visceral in nature Some of the reviews that I have seen on Goodreads bother me a bit, too When I say that I understand what he is saying, it is because my experience allows me to use his writing again, quite excellent to bring back the noise, the smells, the the sights and the complex set of emotions involved When I see someone write that reading this book has enabled them to understand what it s like to be in combat, I have the same reaction that I have when someone tells me the same thing about having watched the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan Bullshit This book would have been appropriatly entitled What It Was Like for Me to Go to War.


  10. says:

    After the warrior returns home from the initiation of combat, he becomes a member of The Club of combat veterans It has always been a club with its own secrets and its own and societally imposed rules of silence Traditionally, it has been a club tied in with the mystery of gender because being a warrior was tied in with manhood This ancient mystery combined with the silence forms an intriguing and powerful combination for attracting future members, particularly boys You don t join this club you can only be initiated into it This book is complicated and thought provoking Karl Marlantes says, This book is my song Each and every one of us veterans must have a song to sing about our war before we can walk back in the community without everyone quaking behind the walls Karl Marlantes is macho He calls it hyper masculine warrior energy He lets you know that right off It s the macho guys in Kill Anything That Moves who rape the young girls, manhandle the civilians and kill the babies I don t think I like macho Marlantes much But he does know how to write about learning to be spiritual in Marine Boot Camp I am still not impressed God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac And stupid Abraham was going to do it I am not much in favor of being spiritual if it means sacrificing Isaac I have been on another streak of Vietnam books I don t seem to be able to stop fighting that war I recommend Loon A Marine Story, A Rumor of War and Kill Anything that Moves How did you feel about killing, Mr Marlantes My feeling I was elated I shouted to the team, We got Chrispy Critters all over the hill If, back then, I was who I am today, I would have felt differently There would have been no elation But back then I was just like the battalion staff that cheered our victory on the hill I had identified with the reconnaissance team, whose lives were very much in doubt Psychologically I had become identified with the threatened group and the advancing enemy was no longer human like us I didn t kill people, sons, brothers, fathers I killed chrispy critters It could have been krauts, nips, huns, boche, gooks, infidels, towel heads, imperialist pigs, yankee pigs, male chauvinist pigs the list is a varied as human experience This disassociation of one s enemy from being human is called pseudospeciation You make a false species out of the other human and therefore make it easier to kill him The touchdown feeling combined with disassociating the enemy as human was in full glorious effect Ideally, I would hope that, in spite of the adrenaline, I would at least stay conscious of a terrible sadness while I burned these people But burn them I would No kidding Say, what, Mr Marlantes But in some way, Marlantes had a sensitivity that I will never be able to own I, who had never made a decision that someone else would live or die, would judge Marlantes from my safe world that never threatened death or was threatened by death And, yes, I am judging him right now knowing that I will never be in his place to make the decisions that he made about life and death I am righteous in my pacifism I can t believe that Karl says this There s a part of me that just loves maiming, killing, torturing This part of me isn t all of me I have other elements that are indeed just the opposite, of which I am proud So am I a killer No, but part of me is Am I a torturer No, but part of me is Karl says that he worries about the part of me that cannot understand that And I want to tell Karl that I certainly cannot understand that.In the continuum of warriors, where does Karl Marlantes stand He is so philosophical that he must be an aberration How many like him came home in a body bag with a chunk of brain missing How many books like this have not been written I find it hard to attach him to his self definition as a spiritual being He seems tortured than torturing How much agony has he suffered, not in the moment, but in the much later reflection Decades later he suggests This book is unbelievable There is a chapter titled Lying that starts out this way People lie They lie in business, they lie in universities, and they lie in the military Lying, however, is usually considered not normal, the exception In Vietnam lying became the norm and I did my part Only, in Vietnam, lying became so much part of the system that sometimes not lying became immoral This book is unbelievable lying is the norm Tell me about mom and apple pie, please Body count is a lie but it is the score that counts Marlantes distresses me over and over with his apparent pleas to ignore individual conscience Isn t that what this says That your decisions in war must be guided by your stand ins for the incomprehensible, like the Marine Corps To be effective and moral fighters, we must not lose our individuality, our ability to stand alone, and yet, at the same time, we must not owe our allegiance to ourselves alone, but to an entity so large as to be incomprehensible, namely humanity or God For us mere mortals who can t grasp the incomprehensible, we limp along with allegiances to various stepped down versions of the incomprehensible that seem to suit us, like the Marine Corps, the family, France, the Baptist Church, or the Order of the Eastern Star We must strive, however, to always see these smaller entities as only small pieces of the larger one we ll never comprehend That is because when the moment comes for a tough decision, we can make it in light of the larger ghosts, even scared to death in the mud with all those frightened kids around us Marlantes has some stunningly complex or maybe obtuse conversations about why he might follow stupid orders because of a loyalty to the larger unit He observes We are generally delighted to be cogs Some other nibs shared by Marlantes There are plenty Combat is the crack cocaine of all excitement highs with crack cocaine costs One motivation for bravery I wanted a medal One very strong reason why I deplore ignorant attempts by civilians and non combat veterans to make boot camp humane, There is nothing humane about dead kids because someone cracked under the pressure he and the chopper crew were dead for sure if we didn t break through to them, we all simply rushed forward to reach them before the NVA killed them No one gave an order We, the group just rushed forward all at once We couldn t be stopped Just individuals of us were stopped Many forever But we couldn t be This too is a form of transcendence I was we, no longer me When a President or Member of Congress decides to go to war, they must do so as warriors, not policy makers It is they who are choosing sides and using violence to stop violence, the very definition of a warrior It remains a reason why the electorate should value military experience in its leadership positions The chapter titles are a guide to the content of the book Temple of Mars Note Mars is the god of war Killing Guilt Numbness and Violence The Enemy Within Lying Loyalty Heroism Home The Club Relating to Mars There is some that is graphic and much that is intense Although I only succeeded minimally, reading What It Is Like to Go to War was a lesson for me in trying to be non judgmental Karl Marlantes is a bright guy who has a lot to say about being a soldier Since I have never been a soldier, it is probably good for me to hear what he has to say Since he speaks very well, I cannot just write him off by saying Bullshit His opinions and beliefs are not ones that I am often able to confront rationally I can sympathize with him when he talks about being abused as a returning Vietnam veteran I want to respect his effort not to return abuse for abuse and to acknowledge his battles with the furies within himself I hear him say, The phrase politically incorrect hadn t been invented yet, but I was a living prototype I wonder what I would think if I had devoted as much energy to being a pacifist as he has devoted to being a warrior It is clear from the book that he has struggled with his experiences from so many years ago Pre school teachers constantly use the convenient short hand use your words when a child gets aggressive The over riding message is aggression is bad It doesn t recognize the healthy aspects of aggression Unrecognized, the healthy drive goes over to the dark side There are times when physical aggressiveness is an appropriate response When you meet the serial killer on the jogging path, words are going to fail you I would like to be able to be as cogent as Karl Marlantes is in this book His references to the Roman gods and the Greek myths are erudite He makes Yale, his alma mater, proud I have quoted many of his words I have read many books about the American War in Vietnam and this one is unique It has some of the horror stories you come to expect in books about that war but it is also filled with an effort to teach and guide in a way that is different from any other book I have read I wrote this book primarily to come to terms with my own experience of combat So far reading, writing, thinking that has taken over thirty years I could have kept my thoughts in a personal journal, but I took on trying to get these reflections published so that I could share them with other combat veterans Perhaps, in some way, I can help them with their own quest for meaning and their efforts to integrate their combat experiences into their current lives I also want to share my thoughts and experiences with young people who are contemplating joining the military or who are about to enter combat themselves, sort of like providing them with a psychological and spiritual prophylactic, for indeed combat is like unsafe sex it s a major thrill with possible horrible consequences So, if by reading this book before entering combat, a young warrior can be helped to better handle the many psychological, moral, and spiritual stresses of combat, then this book will have been worth writing In addition, if the ideas in this book help citizens and policy makers attain a clearer understanding of what they are asking of their warriors and of their own role in sending these warriors into the morale quagmire and sacrificial fire called war, then the book will have succeeded, if not beyond my hopes, beyond my expectations Marlantes is a proud Marine I can t relate to that He has killed and wrote to help others confront what it means to be a killer He wants warriors to be able to kill in the right circumstances for the right reasons I am having a hard time assigning a number of stars to this book I would not expect a book about war to be an easy read It isn t Marlantes is in a different emotional space than he was when he was a twenty three year old Marine lieutenant in 1969 I am going to cop out and suggest that you go online and read the NY Times book review that concludes its facility and sensationalism are symptomatic of the book s prevailing emotionalism, which too often stands in the way of sustained social critique and of the patient moral and political analysis required to unravel the convoluted network of courage, shame, honor, obligation and betrayal that war entails Print that on your book jacket I could rationalize three stars because I found it too disagreeable politically or five stars because I found it stimulating I am going with four stars and a recommendation that you think about reading What It Is Like to Go to War if you made it to the end of this loooooong review.I have just finished listening to this as an audible book on June 21, 2019 I haven t re read my previous review but I am very certain that I now see this as a three star rather than four star book I honestly think the reason for that is that I just find myself in too much disagreement with the author He does a whole lot of self examination in the book and I think he very much errs by assuming other people have the same reactions as he does I simply do not believe that he is representative of the average person He is very much self identified with a warrior mentality and he overgeneralizes that aspect of personalities as a significant part of every human being He thinks a big part of the PDST problem is that people submerge there postwar hostility He is also very much a believer in talking things out continuously through the process of military training and war experiences I have left a number of notes as I listened to the Audible blog so will cut this short since the review is already very long This is a fascinating and introspective guy who has a lot of pretty interesting things to say but I think he is a little overly impressed with his version of the psychology of warfare And I am a little distracted by his view that guys should be proud of their war experiences and membership in the club


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