I'm as far removed from the experience of a combat infantry soldier as you can get, and I found this extremely moving and riveting. Sebastian Junger doesn't romanticize the battles and firefights in the Korengal, or the men of Battle Company leading that fight, the special group dubbed the tip of the spear for the front in Afghanistan, and yet I couldn't help but see nobility in all of it. Most of this is because of the strong sense of purpose and loyalty among the soldiers he documents. It made my civilian life, by comparison, feel petty and shallow. Out there, in a frontline firefight, there is no patriotism or politics or religion. None of that matters. What makes you keep going everyday, even as you sit on the razor edge of existence, is a love so strong for your fellow soldier you are willing to do anything to protect him and overcome any terror of death. Dying is the least of your concerns. Letting a member of your team die is the end of the world.
I don't want to do what these guys do; I can't do what these guys do. And I would prefer to live in a world where we didn't have to deploy these young men to these treacherous places and experience such violence. And yet I have so much respect for what these guys do and what they let us do to them as a society by deploying them to these places. Respect.
Junger's writing in War is steely-eyed and rich with accurate detail. Objective where it counts but never sterile. An eye-opening read for all us civvies.