In this work the author asks the difficult questions of these combatants, many of whom he first met while in Afghanistan and Iraq and others he sought out from different wars: What is it like to kill? What is it like to be under fire? How do you know what's right? What can you never forget? He compiles the accounts of soldiers, Marines, their families and friends, and also shares the unsettling narrative of his own failures during war (including complicity in a murder) and the redemptive powers of storytelling in arresting a spiraling path of self-destruction. He learns that war both gives and takes from those most intimately involved in it. Some struggle in perpetual disequilibrium, while others find balance, usually with the help of communities who have learned to listen, without judgment, to the real stories of the men and women it has sent to fight its battles.
The killer in me -- Me and my PTSD -- The Killing Business: What's It Like to Kill in War? -- Killing up close / Corporal William Wold ; Pulling the trigger / Staff Sergeant Mikeal Auton. -- The Wounds of War: What's It Like to be Shot, Bombed or Burned in Combat? -- Survivor's guilt / Lance Corporal James Sperry ; Someone's not listening / Gunnery Sergeant Leonard Shelton. -- The Greatest Veneration: My Father's War -- Things That Stain the Soul: What Can Never be Forgotten? -- Dogs of war / Specialist Joe Caley -- Hung on a cross / First Lieutenant Thomas Saal. -- Deadly Honest Mistakes: What's It Like to Kill Your Own Men or Civilians? -- Unfriendly fire / Specialist Michael "Casey" Ayala ; Making it right / Captain Zachary Iscol. -- Moral Ambiguities: How do you Know What's Right? -- Morris vs. Mo / Colonel Morris Goins ; The quiet soldier / Major Lior Tailer ; Into the deep / Corporal Sebastiaan Schoonhoven -- Deus Ex Machina
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