Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Book Review: VALOR: Unsung Heroes from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front

I had a rainy day and I tucked into this book after my chores were done. I've read Fifteen Days, by Christie Blatchford. She was embedded with our Canadian Military. It was a pretty intense read. What I found, though, is that as an embedded journalist, she loses much perspective. In fact, many journalists are trying to write more of a novel than a report, and they present a very one-sided point of view.
There are books from parents: A Mother's Road to Kandahar, whose son was deployed.

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VALOR: Unsung Heroes from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front

This is a new book, published just recently (July 1st) and I was sent an uncorrected proof for review. Written by Mark Lee Greenblatt, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., I was quite curious about the way he would treat these subjects. I was hopeful that he would have done his homework, and it appears so.

The issues with 'unsung heroes' is first finding them, and secondly, corroborating their stories, thirdly writing a good tale.
Greenblat has done all three.

These guys seem humble, but fierce, and well-trained, and all seemed awfully good guys. I was wondering how unbiased the book would be, but he seemed to genuinely admire these men, and also talked to their buddies who confirmed their stories.

What I find sad, now that we know more about such issues as PTSD and the impact of war on a soldier, is that two of the nine did not live to see the publication of the book. Good soldiers, all, this is a fine testament to the men with principles, ethics, and humanity.
For those who have never been to war, it is a frightening read, Goldblat writes well about these nine men and the situations which faced them.

Greenblatt writes of their influences, the reasons they became soldiers, and I was fascinated, despite being a dove. I truthfully cannot understand how fighting in Afghanistan means fighting for the US, and I'm glad they've brought both US and Canadian troops home. As one soldier says, being in the navy or fighting from the air may be old-style war, and boots on the ground are terribly dangerous with IEDs and terrorists intent on killing both foreigner, citizens and themselves.

I fervently hope that we can prevent terrorism with technology, rather than risking our young men and women's lives. It is a good job, good training for young people to join this type of group where looking out for one another is as important as looking out for oneself. Thankfully, we've learned more about PTSD since the Vietnam War, unfortunately, both of our countries do little to treat the condition and support our returning wounded soldiers.

An excellent read, one that kept me intrigued, even while I mourned lives lost.

Learn more about these heroes
“Hero” has become a term that is too easily cast about in our society. But when it comes to the courageous group of Americans who choose to serve and defend our nation, it is a term for which they are all worthy. There are, however, a group among them whom have taken “hero” to a new level. In VALOR, Mark Lee Greenblatt tells the thrilling stories of nine brave Americans who risked their lives to accomplish a mission or to save the lives of others.

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A decorated Afghanistan war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder says the only help he got from military counsellors was he was given a rock to squeeze when he wasn't feeling well.


William Kendall said...

Thanks for pointing this one out.

Back in the day, of course, they called it shell shock.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Very true, William. And it was never spoken of. Hubby's later father helped release those is one of the death camps. He was never the same. Died of an industrial incident in 1952.

Red said...

I don't think I'm up to intense reads anymore. You're right about bias. Bias creeps in whether we know it or not.