Yesterday I attended an author event at the National Security Law Center at Georgetown Law School. Nancy Sherman presented her book The Untold Story: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers. One cannot overstate the importance of this book in furthering the cause of veterans.
Sherman interviewed veterans to understand the inner moral dilemmas of war, not when they do the wrong things, but when accidents happen, nothing happens (to them), or they do the right things. It's a brilliant exploration of a soldier's soul.
In one chapter, the author investigates three types of guilt: accident guilt, luck guilt, and the guilt of collateral damage. Sherman is non-judgmental in her assessments of the veterans. The stories they tell are nothing less than heart-wrenching. If you're a vet, this book will send you back to the sandbox (or the Hindu Kush).
Sherman also examines the seamless transition from civilian to military life and vice-versa, concluding that neither is exclusive. There's a chapter in the book about the moral dilemma of non-coercive interrogations based on deception. It's a question I'm asked often in my own speeches. I came to a different conclusion than the interrogator Sherman interviewed, but she presents the subject matter to inform, not judge. And that gets to the soul of this book.
The most important contribution of The Untold War is that it is a window to a soldier's soul and an avenue to open discussion among vets and their families and friends about the weight of war. This is a must read for veterans and those who seek to understand them.
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