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What Every Person Should Know About War

What Every Person Should Know About War

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Acclaimed New York Times journalist and author Chris Hedges offers a critical -- and fascinating -- lesson in the dangerous realities of our age: a stark look at the effects of war on combatants. Utterly lacking in rhetoric or dogma, this manual relies instead on bare fact, frank description, and a spare question-and-answer format. Hedges allows U.S. military documentation of the brutalizing physical and psychological consequences of combat to speak for itself.

Hedges poses dozens of questions that young soldiers might ask about combat, and then answers them by quoting from medical and psychological studies.
• What are my chances of being wounded or killed if we go to war?
• What does it feel like to get shot?
• What do artillery shells do to you?
• What is the most painful way to get wounded?
• Will I be afraid?
• What could happen to me in a nuclear attack?
• What does it feel like to kill someone?
• Can I withstand torture?
• What are the long-term consequences of combat stress?
• What will happen to my body after I die?

This profound and devastating portrayal of the horrors to which we subject our armed forces stands as a ringing indictment of the glorification of war and the concealment of its barbarity.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743255127 | 
  • June 2003
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: War 101

What is a war?

War is defined as an active conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Has the world ever been at peace?

Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history.

How many people have died in war?

At least 108 million people were killed in wars in the twentieth century. Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of human history range from 150 million to 1 billion. War has several other effects on population, including decreasing the birthrate by taking men away from... see more
Introduction

I have spent most of my adult life reporting war. By the time it was over, after nearly two decades, I had worked as a correspondent in about a dozen conflicts from Central America to Africa to the Middle East and the Balkans. I spent five years covering the insurgencies in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. I was there for the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, in the West Bank and Gaza, and returned to write about the second. I reported on the civil wars in the Sudan and Yemen, the uprisings in Algeria and the Punjab, and the collapse of the communist regimes in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. I went on... see more

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