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An important look at the unspoken and unknown truths of war and its impact, told through the personal stories of those who have been there
In The Things They Cannot Say, eleven soldiers and marines display a rare courage that transcends battlefield heroics—they share the truth about their wars. For each of them it means something different: one struggles to recover from a head injury he believes has stolen his ability to love, another attempts to make amends for the killing of an innocent man, while yet another finds respect for the enemy fighter who tried to kill him.
Award-winning journalist and author Kevin Sites 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?
Sites compiles the accounts of soldiers, marines, and 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.
© 2013 by Kevin Sites
“Brilliant…An unprecedented view into the heart,
mind, and soul of American warriors from every generation.”
Sean Parnell, New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon
“Whether stationed in sultry jungles, urban streets, or rugged mountains, soldiers are asked to endure intense physical and mental traumas, and while common threads weave throughout these stories, each is unique…But these gripping stories do not equal ‘an indictment against hope’; they are evidence of a profound desire to heal.”
“A grim, often horrifying portrait of the trauma of modern warfare, which, inevitably, leaves scars, seen and unseen, on participants…This is tough stuff, as many of the experiences recounted here are graphic, cruel, and bloody, but they offer an intimate look at the costs of war on a personal, elemental level.”
“Veterans from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan—including Sites himself as a war correspondent—tell their tales of the struggle to survive on and after the battlefield…An important book for warriors and the communities that send them to war.”