by Sebatian Junger (2010). A superb, vivid and intellectually serious account of modern small-group combat. Junger spent a year embedded with a platoon of US troops in the distant Korangal Valley, in the mountainous regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The book is not about the politics or the ethics of the war and killing and being killed. It is about the universal experience, the psychological, biological and military historical aspects of organized violence of small groups of highly trained young men fighting other groups of highly motivated young men and what makes them tick. Why are these soldiers from a variety of backgrounds willing to sacrifice their lives for each other? Why do they routinely perform what most would consider heroic deeds? It is not patriotism or their belief in a just war but because failing one of their buddies in battle is the ultimate betrayal and simply unconceivable! “It’s about the man next to you. That’s all it is”, Death is the preferred option. Having learnt to utterly depend on each other, they are beholden to each other until their tour of duty ends, they are seriously injured or dead. Put differently, it is really a form of love for each other, what the ancient Greeks knew as Arete. For many, the unmitigated boredom, social isolation, deprivation and constant fear, interrupted by brief moments of combat, terror and adrenaline rush within a tightly-knit group of men provides purpose and is highly addictive. Tragically, many have grave difficulties adapting to civilian life back home. A riveting account which I read in one sitting.