Excerpt: 'War' By Sebastian Junger


Sebastian Junger spent 14 months intermittenly with the U.S.'s 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley.

In "War," Junger chronicles his time with the soldiers who live under the constant threat of attack and deal with the deaths of friends and brothers in arms.

Read an excerpt below, and then head to the "Good Morning America" Library to find more good reads.

1. Fear

By cowardice I do not mean fear. Cowardice is a label we reserve for something a man does. What passes through his mind is his own affair. - Lord Moran, The Anatomy of Courage

VIDEO: Sebastian Junger talks about the relationship between men in war.
Sebastian Junger: How Soldiers Bond in 'War'

New York City

Six Months Later

O'Byrne is standing at the corner of Ninth Avenue and 36th Street with a to-go cup in each hand and the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up. It's six in the morning and very cold. He's put on twenty pounds since I last saw him and could be a laborer waiting for the gate to open at the construction site across the street. Now that he's out of the Army I'm supposed to call him Brendan, but I'm finding that almost impossible to do. We shake hands and he gives me one of the coffees and we go to get my car. The gash across his forehead is mostly healed, though I can still see where the stitches were. One of his front teeth is chipped and looks like a fang. He had a rough time when he got back to Italy; in some ways he was in more danger there than in combat.


O'Byrne had been with Battle Company in the Korengal Valley, a small but extraordinarily violent slit in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains of eastern Afghanistan. He was just one soldier out of thirty but seemed to have a knack for putting words to the things that no one else really wanted to talk about. I came to think of O'Byrne as a stand-in for the entire platoon, a way to understand a group of men who I don't think entirely understood themselves. One valley to the north, two platoons from Chosen Company accumulated a casualty rate of around 80 percent during their deployment. Battle Company wasn't hit that hard, but they were hit hard enough. This morning I'm going to interview Justin Kalenits, one of the wounded from Chosen, and O'Byrne has asked if he could join me. It's a cold, sunny day with little traffic and a north wind that rocks the car along the open stretches and on the bridges. We barrel southward through the industrial dross of New Jersey and Pennsylvania talking about the deployment and the platoon and how strange it is in some ways for both of us to find ourselves in the United States for good. I spent the year visiting O'Byrne's platoon in the Koren-gal, but now that's over and neither of us will ever see it again. We're both dreaming about it at night, though, weird, illogical combat sequences that don't always end badly but are soaked in dread.

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