As of early 2010, more than two million U.S. troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the American public is neither much engaged in the issues of these two wars nor particularly knowledgeable about the troops’ experiences, which have ranged from positive and energizing to searing and debilitating.
Based on scores of interview--some culled from the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and others conducted by the author himself--Through Veterans’ Eyes presents a composite narrative of the experiences of U.S. service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Minear quotes more than 175 veterans by name and includes a dozen of their own photos from the conflict theaters. Thematic chapters cover duty and service, politics, cultural and ethical challenges, relationships to local populations, and reentry into American society. Neither pro-war nor anti-war, Minear’s approach encourages veterans to express their views on issues critical to the nation.
What has motivated U.S. military personnel to enlist? What specific challenges have they faced in Iraq and Afghanistan? What have been the impacts of deployment on their families and communities? Is their experience changing their views of their country and the world? What lessons may be learned from their stories? Veterans’ candid responses to these and other probing questions deserve pondering.
“It is essential that this volume (or something like it) be widely read before the nation cavalierly commits its troops to battle. Thus, Minear has rendered a valuable service in publishing this book. His book is written and edited with admirable skill; it is organized into an orderly, sensible continuum. Recommended. All leadership levels.
Choice, February 2011
“…Thorough and readable, and an impressive range of voices [are] heard...”
Journal of Folklore Research, January 2011
“Larry Minear has given voice to an entire generation of combat veterans whose experience will shape our society for decades to come. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will henceforth serve as the dominant reference points for the American debate on issues of war and peace, just as World War II, Korea, and Vietnam shaped our national attitudes for the past half century. If you want to know what our soldiers and Marines have taken away from their service in America’s latest wars, his balanced and insightful account is the perfect place to start.”
Amb. James F. Dobbins, former special envoy to Afghanistan and author of After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan
“Minear’s lens is compassionate; it does not flinch from nor dwell on uncomfortable facts. His own narrative does not embellish the service and sacrifice of soldiers and their families; these are clear enough to the reader. This view of United States military engagements in the last decade, through the eyes of its veterans, will likely leave the reader transformed. Through Veterans’ Eyes weaves a tapestry of experience of U.S. military personnel in, and after they return from, recent warzones.”
Karen Guttieri, faculty, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
“Larry Minear takes us on a wide-ranging tour of going to war and coming home. He sets the scene, then lets the people who've lived it speak for themselves in their own words, unvarnished, without spin. Outsiders will come away with new understanding. Insiders will nod and know they have been heard."
Kristin Henderson, military spouse and author of While They’re at War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront
“To truly understand a combat veteran, you have to be one. Minear’s sterling collection of first-hand accounts and thoughtful analysis is as close as you can get to the complex experience of war without ever setting foot on a battlefield. It's an important contribution toward helping our military, and our society, better appreciate the extraordinary sacrifices of these men and women. Through Veterans’ Eyes is honest, gritty and sometimes unpleasant. Whether we have the stomach for it, is an entirely different matter."
Maj. Greg Heilshorn, state public affairs officer, New Hampshire National Guard
“Larry Minear has brought the war home to any American who wants to listen. After setting the stage through careful and comprehensive documentation, he wisely lets the veterans speak for themselves about their war and re-entry experiences. Since warriors and their families represent a tiny minority of the American public, this book gives the rest of us a crucial opportunity to understand the challenges and difficulties which they have confronted and which many of them continue to face today."
Dr. Matthew Friedman, Executive Director, National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
“The clarity with which the veterans express themselves and the success the author has had in capturing their thoughts represent a powerful use of oral history. This book should prove of immeasurable value in contributing to the national dialog on these contentious wars.”
Gen. Richard I. Neal, assistant commandant, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.)
“Through Veterans’ Eyes captures the voices of returning service members. Each person’s experience as a ‘citizen warrior’ is critical information that can help communities respond to their needs throughout the deployment cycle—pre-, during, and post-. Their job was to defend us. Our job is to listen and take action.”
Nancy Rollins, associate commissioner, Department of Health and Human Services, state of New Hampshire