Wounded: Vietnam to Iraq

Ronald J. Glasser, Author
Ronald J. Glasser, Author George Braziller $21.95 (151p) ISBN 978-0-8076-1571-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-8076-1630-7
Paperback - 151 pages - 978-0-8076-1569-0
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The relatively light body count among American soldiers fighting in Iraq is but the tip of an iceberg of suffering, argues this harrowing meditation on the hidden costs of war. Glasser (365 Days), who served as an Army physician during the Vietnam war, details the breakthroughs in technology, medical procedures and body armor that have made the Iraq war more survivable than previous conflicts but notes a depressing side effect: soldiers now survive horrific wounds that would have killed them in the past, wounds that will saddle them with physical and financial burdens for decades to come. The litany of ""polytraumas"" he describes-sometimes in grisly clinical detail-is varied and heart-rending, from the multiple amputations, seared lungs and brain-damage inflicted by road-side bombs to the psychological scars borne by a group of panicky Marines who open fire on a car, only to find they have killed an innocent woman and her three young daughters. Glasser mixes in his own Vietnam reminiscences to point up the similarities between the two quagmires, from moral corruption (he deplores the current involvement of physicians in interrogating prisoners) to social and economic inequalities that force the disadvantaged to bear the brunt of the fighting and maiming, to the false claims and false optimism officials deploy to justify war. The insights he draws are not always cogent (""In any war, but particularly this one, you can run, but you can't hide,"" he muzzily intones), but Glasser offers a sobering look at the new circles of hell being pioneered in Iraq.
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