How The Wounded Return from America's Wars—The Untold Story
After the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Ann Jones spent a good part of a decade there working with Afghan civilians—especially women—and writing about the impact of war on their lives: the subject of Kabul in Winter (2006). That book revealed the yawning chasm between America’s promises to Afghans and its actual performance in the country. Meanwhile, Jones was pondering another evident contradiction: between the U.S. military’s optimistic progress reports to Americans and its costly, clueless failures in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. In 2010-2011, she decided to see for herself what that “progress” in Afghanistan was costing American soldiers. She borrowed some body armor and embedded with U.S. troops. On forward operating bases she saw the row of photographs of “fallen” soldiers hung on the headquarters’ wall lengthen day by day.
At the trauma hospital at Bagram Air Base she watched the grievously wounded carried from medevac helicopters to the emergency room and witnessed the toll that life-saving surgeries took on the doctors who performed them. She accompanied the wounded on medevac flights from Bagram to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, then on to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, and finally—for those who made it—back to all-American homes where, often enough, more troubles followed: violence against wives, girlfriends, children, and fellow soldiers; Big Pharma-induced drug addiction; murder, suicide, and the terrible sorrow of caretaker moms and dads who don’t know what happened to their kids. They Were Soldiers is a powerful account of how official American promises—this time to “Support Our Troops”—fall victim to the true costs of war.
To buy this book, select a Bookseller:
“My pick for the best book of 2013 comes from Ann Jones, who shows us a side of America’s wars that we often don’t see. She embeds with the doctors who spend their lives dealing with soldiers who are grievously wounded, psychologically scarred, or killed in combat. She talks to the families of troops who speak of their inability to recognize their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, or mothers and fathers because they have come home so transformed by their experiences in war. It’s a stunning portrait of the psychological and physical effects of war, with which we so rarely reckon.”
– Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars
—Jonathan Schell, author of The Unconquerable World
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country
—Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990
—Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, author of Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character and Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming
–David Swanson, author of War is a Lie