Congratulations to my good friend Ann Jones! Investigative reporter extraordinaire Jeremy Scahill (whose film Dirty Wars recently made the Oscar Short List in the documentary category) just picked her latest book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars, as his number one book of 2013!
If you don’t already have a copy, I urge you to pick one up. It’s a beautifully written, devastatingly poignant piece of reportage, and an instant classic on the hidden reverberations of our distant wars. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Scahill:
“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. Jones, the daughter of a World War I veteran, brings a real understanding of the gap between the celebrations of our vets and the reality of how they are treated when they return. ‘America’s soldiers return with enough troubles to last the rest of their lives,’ she observes. She also questions the idea that war is inevitable. ‘War is not natural,’ she writes. ‘We have to be trained for it, soldiers and citizens alike. And the “wars of choice” we were trained for, the wars these soldiers took part in, need never have been fought.’”