Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War

Penguin Pr May 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780593299241. $27. POL SCI
Klay, a former U.S. Marine and author of the acclaimed novel Redeployment, offers essays on war, violence, and literature in this new book. Written over the past 11 years, most of these pieces focus on the United States’ involvement in the Iraq War, where Klay served as a public relations officer. Although he did not see combat in Iraq, he did observe first-hand the horrors of war. He writes with anger and sorrow about the casualties of American wars, the psychological damage incurred by soldiers, and the purposelessness of the 21st-century Iraq and Afghanistan Wars over the course of three U.S. presidential administrations. With care, Klay addresses questions of faith, guilt, and collective trauma, offering insights into military culture and the meaning of masculinity. Two pieces that are not directly connected to Iraq stand out: an assessment of the literature of war, from World War I to the present; and an essay on the evolution of firearms in the United States. Klay concludes with a powerful indictment of the catastrophic destruction caused by the United States since 9/11 and of the American public’s lack of interest in Iraq and Afghanistan.
VERDICT Klay has written an important and eye-opening essay collection that should be a must-read.
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