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After Combat: True War Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. Marian Eide and Michael Gibler. Lincoln. NE: Potomac Books, 2018.
As the United States approaches the end of another decade of combat, strife, and uncertainty in its global affairs, two conflicted regions loom large. The American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan drags onward, and, as the American population and government discuss withdrawal, the narrative of the last twenty years begins to come into view. The experiences of American soldiers deployed to these regions, sometimes over and over again, are central to this story, including consideration of the lasting impact of their time abroad. American culture is already rife with conversations about post-traumatic stress, veterans’ services, and treatments following deployments. Unfortunately, the voice of the veterans themselves is seldom heard with clarity in these conversations.
Marian Eide and Michael Gibler attempt to provide that voice and stage in After Combat, a series of anecdotes, stories, and lessons from nearly twenty years of soldiers’ experiences. Working with a group of more than thirty veterans in total, whose experiences span the length of American involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the authors approach the very important and yet sometimes uncomfortable question in asking soldiers: “How was your war?” Seeking the unfiltered and unvarnished war experiences of ordinary soldiers is often difficult for academics and other outside chroniclers, which is why the pairing of Eide and Gibler works so well. Marian Eide is a self-proclaimed pacifist academic. Gibler is a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and several other deployments. The authors come together to create both an objective and experienced space for veterans to share their stories and experiences.