The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won’t Tell You About What They’ve Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War

Kevin Sites, Author
Kevin Sites. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-199052-6
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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MP3 CD - 978-1-4708-4225-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4708-4227-7
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-209922-8
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In this riveting and emotionally raw debut, award-winning journalist Sites profiles 11 soldiers (including members of non-American militaries) to explore what it feels like to kill, “be shot, bombed or burned in combat,” and how one goes on living after the fighting dies down. Sites opens candidly with his own experience, describing how a moment of journalistic indifference in 2004 resulted in the murder of a captured Iraqi insurgent, a tragedy the author dwells on intermittently throughout the book. Drawing from interviews and military records, Sites goes on to tell the stories of veterans of the wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and, in the case of his own father, WWII. 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: one describes the horror of witnessing the crucifixion of a deceased North Vietnamese Army officer; another tells of the guilt that accompanies friendly fire. But these gripping stories do not equal “an indictment against hope”; they are evidence of a profound desire to heal. Photos. (Jan.)
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