On June 14th Sebastian Junger was at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis, TN to read from and sign copies of his book "WAR". I was thrilled that I was able to rearrange my schedule to make the event. There was a nice size crowd there to listen as Sebastian talked about the time he and Tim Hetherington spent with Battle Co, 2nd Platoon, 173rd, 2-503 in Afghanstan during OEF VIII (2007-08). At one point the bookstore had to bring in more chairs for seating.
I took my copy of "WAR" with me but I hadn't read it. I just hadn't been able to open it and start. I was more than pleased when Sebastian pointed out that nothing in or about the book is political. It's simply the story of the men of 2nd Platoon and how, during their 14-15 months in Afghanistan, particularly their 12 months at OP (Outpost) Restrepo, they coped, reacted to their surroundings and to each other. Since beginning to write this post I have read "WAR". It was not an easy read for me. Unlike many who have reviewed "WAR" I wasn't able to read it in one sitting - too much to absorb and too many memories.
I am pleased with the manner in which Sebastian approached this book. In my opinion it is honest, straight forward, respectful and real. I more than highly recommend it for everyone to read; not just military personnel and their families but EVERY American.
Sebastian and me after the book signing
Sebastian with his 2-503 Throw. Do you have one? If not you can order one here
After the book signing we went to grab a burger, beer and fried dill pickles. Sebastian had never had fried dill pickles. Maybe he'll put those on the menu at his NYC restaurant and bar The Half King?
I had never met Sebastian before that night and was more than anxious about doing so. Not because of his "fame" from "WAR", Restrepo, "The Perfect Storm" and his other writings but because he's a writer/journalist and I'm not usually a fan of writers/journalists. I even told him that at one point. But I was so off base about Sebastian. I'm thankful that he afforded me the opportunity to spend time with him and get to know him. Sebastian is the real deal. His respect and love for the men of the ROCK is profound. Within minutes I felt totally at ease with him and as if I had known him for years. It was refreshing to be able to sit and talk with someone about our military personnel the way we did. About THEM. Not about war. Not about politics. Not about politicians. About the warriors, their spirits, their ethos, their characters, their families and their struggles.
At dinner after the book signing
I am forever thankful that Sebastian and Tim were the ones who embedded with 2nd Platoon. I can't imagine any other civilian (and I daresay many military) writers/journalists who could possible have gotten it "right" the way they have. I am equally thankful that I had the opportunity to get to meet Sebastian and spend a couple of hours with him. Thank you Sebastian!
Buy the book folks. Read it! And go see Restrepo. If it's not currently scheduled at a theater near you here's what you can do (via Kanani at The Kitchen Dispatch) to help make that happen:
Post the name of the theatre with a contact number on the Restrepo Facebook page. If you have the name of the manager, GREAT. Then, call the theater manager --especially if it's an art house committed to bringing in independent films. Ask for the manager's email. Then send them this link: http://www.restrepothemovie.com/, Tell them the Press Kit may be accessed through the site.
Sebastian, if you are ever back in Memphis I owe you some real BBQ.