Book Review: “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger

In preparation for an upcoming (not soon) episode of Operation: Have a Conversation, I read the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger. Its description tends to focus on how it explores the way American soldiers who come back from war have trouble integrating themselves back into modern society, as being in the military provides a significant unifying bond that is not felt in today’s Western culture.

While I’m not sure what exactly we’ll get into when recording our episode about this book, I’d like to give a couple of thoughts that have lingered with me since I finished reading it earlier today.

First, this book is important. I think it would be good for everyone to read. It frames much of how we look at modern society very differently than I had ever perceived. It discusses how panic attacks and depression are evolutionary traits, and how society has developed in such a way to make these afflictions more prevalent. It thoroughly discusses our misunderstanding and mistreatment of PTSD, particularly among those who participated in violent conflicts.

This book can be very challenging in certain ways. It opens one’s eyes to a certain hypocrisy with which we live our lives, and also points out reasons to be somewhat afraid for the future of America. It gives some specific ideas about where we tend to fail as a culture and society, and gives some implications for how we can all work toward getting better.

It is hard for me to do this book any sort of justice. My thoughts are still unformed and not particularly cohesive. But after reading it, I’m very excited to discuss it with Mikhail and Jack, and hope you’ll take a chance to read it as well.

The book is less than 100 pages, and the audiobook (if that’s your style) is only around 3 hours. Yet there is a lot that happens. I highly recommend it.

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