The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice

Vanessa Gezari, Author
Vanessa M. Gezari. Simon & Schuster, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7739-6
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 08/13/2013
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-7741-9
Paperback - 347 pages - 978-1-4391-7740-2
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In 2007, the Department of Defense rolled out a program called the Human Terrain System in Afghanistan. Its goal was to embed social scientists with military units in the hopes that understanding the people of the occupied country would enable the military to more effectively engage the enemy. Here, Gezari, a professor of narrative nonfiction at the University of Michigan, tells the fascinating story of the innovative mission—which she describes as “a cosmic expression of the national zeitgeist, neatly encapsulating both a justification for war and the intoxicating belief that war could be less lethal, more anthropological”—and its dedicated participants, one of whom, Paula Loyd, is terribly burned early on in a senseless act of anti-American violence. Readers get a sobering feel for the difficult task of waging a war on foreign soil, as well as the travails of hardworking and often brilliant individuals struggling to change enormous political and social systems for the better. Nuanced, readable, and utterly engrossing, Gezari’s exposé is a revelatory and unique look at the war in Afghanistan. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon. (Aug. 13)
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