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The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War
     

The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War

4.0 14
by Kevin Sites
 

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What is it like to kill?  What is it like to be under fire? How do you know what's right? What can you never forget?

In The Things They Cannot Say, award-winning journalist and author Kevin Sites asks these difficult questions of eleven soldiers and marines, who—by sharing the truth about their wars—display a rare courage that

Overview

What is it like to kill?  What is it like to be under fire? How do you know what's right? What can you never forget?

In The Things They Cannot Say, award-winning journalist and author Kevin Sites asks these difficult questions of eleven soldiers and marines, who—by sharing the truth about their wars—display a rare courage that transcends battlefield heroics.

For each of these men, many of whom Sites first met while in Afghanistan and Iraq, the truth means something different. One struggles to recover from a head injury he believes has stolen his ability to love; another attempts to make amends for the killing of an innocent man; yet another finds respect for the enemy fighter who tried to kill him. Sites also shares the unsettling narrative of his own failures during war—including his complicity in a murder—and the redemptive powers of storytelling that saved him from a self-destructive downward spiral.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this riveting and emotionally raw debut, award-winning journalist Sites profiles 11 soldiers (including members of non-American militaries) to explore what it feels like to kill, “be shot, bombed or burned in combat,” and how one goes on living after the fighting dies down. Sites opens candidly with his own experience, describing how a moment of journalistic indifference in 2004 resulted in the murder of a captured Iraqi insurgent, a tragedy the author dwells on intermittently throughout the book. Drawing from interviews and military records, Sites goes on to tell the stories of veterans of the wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and, in the case of his own father, WWII. Whether stationed in sultry jungles, urban streets, or rugged mountains, soldiers are asked to endure intense physical and mental traumas, and while common threads weave throughout these stories, each is unique: one describes the horror of witnessing the crucifixion of a deceased North Vietnamese Army officer; another tells of the guilt that accompanies friendly fire. But these gripping stories do not equal “an indictment against hope”; they are evidence of a profound desire to heal. Photos. (Jan.)
Booklist
“This is tough stuff, as many of the experiences recounted here are graphic, cruel,and bloody, but they offer an intimate look at the costs of war on a personal, elemental level.”
Shelf Awareness (Bruce Jacobs of Watermark Books & Cafe)
A gritty look at postwar distress, including veterans’ personal accounts, by a journalist with his own intimate perspective on the subject.
Sean Parnell
“Brilliant! An unprecedented view into the heart, mind and soul of American Warriors from every generation. A must read for every American.”
Edward Tick
A vivid set of portrats of modern combatants written in prose taht moves with speed and heat.”
Shelf Awareness (Bruce Jacobs of Watermark Books & Cafe
A gritty look at postwar distress, including veterans’ personal accounts, by a journalist with his own intimate perspective on the subject.
San Francisco Chronicle
“Sites highlights the importance of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and sharing stories. Most importantly, he forces readers, those average civilians, to look at what war does to people and think about whether it’s always worth it.”
Vice
“The harrowing accounts detail the experiencesof 11 US soldiers and Marines who have been ravaged by modern warfare and its psychological aftermath. What makes Kevin’s reporting unique and essential is that it didn’t stop on the battlefield—he followed his subjects home.”
(Bruce Jacobs of Watermark Books & Cafe) - Shelf Awareness
A gritty look at postwar distress, including veterans’ personal accounts, by a journalist with his own intimate perspective on the subject.
Kirkus Reviews
Veterans from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan--including Sites himself as a war correspondent (In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars, 2007)--tell their tales of the struggle to survive on and after the battlefield, in the hopes that such storytelling may be a way "to release warriors from the bonds of their own silence." Lance Cpl. James Sperry writes, "I am only twenty-four and have lived a life I wish on no one." Such is the common thread of despair to be found among these warriors' tales. In combat, they did and saw things no one should endure. They killed--the enemy, civilians, their own troops as a result of friendly fire. They saw friends blown apart, and they were wounded. They grew rabid with anger and a desire to kill. Then they were expected to return to friends, family and community unchanged from these horrors. But this was not possible, as veteran after veteran experienced PTSD. Too often in silence, combat veterans suffered from an inability to reconnect, to love, to be simply normal. Sites includes himself among the lost, as he recounts how his "confused incompetent inaction" led to the murder of Iraqi insurgent Taleb Salem Nidal. Sites thus joined the ranks of those suffering from PTSD--covering guilt, shame and fear in a haze of alcohol and marijuana, numbed by taking "a chef's salad of [prescribed] drugs every day," losing wives and loved ones who could not understand their sullen withdrawal. However, in sensitive, honest prose, the author emphasizes that this is a book about hope. Most of the wounded warriors eventually found their way back, including Sites, and part of the healing process involves telling their stories. The author allows himself and the combat veterans he interviews the space to do so. An important book for warriors and the communities that send them to war.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061990526
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/29/2013
Pages:
295
Sales rank:
314,845
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are Saying About This

Edward Tick

A vivid set of portrats of modern combatants written in prose taht moves with speed and heat.”

Sean Parnell

“Brilliant! An unprecedented view into the heart, mind and soul of American Warriors from every generation. A must read for every American.”

Meet the Author

Kevin Sites has spent more than a decade covering wars and conflicts for ABC, NBC, CNN, Yahoo! News, and Vice magazine. He is the author of In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars and The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War. He is also an associate professor of journalism at the University of Hong Kong.

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The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
claywest14 More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very interesting to read because I am very interested in what is happing over seas in war. The media really hides what happens. After reading this book I realized that these soldiers have not had it easy over there and they come back here and people tend to think that once they come back they will be fine and nothing else to worry about them. But that is wrong PDST is an illness that soldiers get back from a war. A journalist is writing this book and he goes and interviews his subject during the war and tries to find them also for the complete story.He talks a lot about killing a man with being a journalist in the war and what a harsh toll is can be on a man. This is what I liked about the book because i thought it was very interesting how some men that he took there stories they have no regrets at all for taking some ones life even if it wasn’t a sure threat. But other men come back and become alcoholics from this regret or feeling of sorrow.Taking ones life was a big theme of this book. He talked to one man that said he remembered his first kill it was on a boy that was going to throw a grenade at his platoon but he shot him down and after that he just went all out in killing. He went to a village and he killed some suspected but he also killed at least 6 innocent people in this doing. I could not deal with that pain inside of me and I feel like the media hides all the truth of what that really does to some one in there later years. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a true eye opener. I didnt even buy the whole book yet because it $10 but the free sample alone is a life changer. As a spouse to a soldier who battles ptsd on a daily basis, this book really made me think and helped me understand better. It also made me cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. My father served in Iraq in the 90s and after 9/11 and my brother served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While reading this book I spent a great deal of time thinking about them, wondering what their experiences had been. My father was in a vehicle struck by an IED and my brother had been witness to a suicide bombing attack. I know they both came home with PTSD but now I also wonder did they have to shoot someone, did they kill someone. I wonder what are the things they cannot say. Perhaps one day I will be brave enough to truly ask those questions. All in all I think this is an excellent book which provides much to think about. At times I found myself on the verge of tears as I read these soldiers stories and considered the burdens they carry still. This book also made me question seriously whether it is ethical to send 18 year olds to war. How can we expect them to reconcile the things they've done and experienced in war when their brains are not even fully developed yet? And how is it that they are released into civilian life so quickly after a tour and there is almost no support for the majority. It's no wonder so many come home with PTSD. This book was definitely worth reading. You will find yourself thinking about these men and their stories long after finishing this book.
CasualTrekkie More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book for anyone who has strong feelings about war - or no feelings about war. In fact, I just recommend this book for civilians to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read book. An amazing reporting about what really happens to soldiers at war and how they are neglected by the society they protect. A touching book that you can´t miss. 
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Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
I expected to have a lot of trouble getting into this book. That proved to be correct – but not for the reason I was anticipating. I thought I would find descriptions of war, potentially graphic scenes of battle, and confessions to acts that conscionable men would never do in civilized society. Instead, the first part of the book was made up of personal soul-searching by the author. The author talked about things that he as a journalist witnessed – and perhaps could have directly influenced if he had been of a mind to do so. Not that a little soul-searching is a bad thing – just not what I had been led to anticipate. The author's experiences did help to explain why other soldiers were willing to confide in him, even when said “confidence” was to be shared with the world at large. And the tales told by those soldiers did, in fact, contain some horrible actions, both witnessed and performed, by the soldiers whose tales are told within these pages. I was impressed that the author realized that such tales are not limited to American soldiers, and included some tales of individuals who fought for other countries, as well. All in all, I finished the book much more impressed than I thought I would after the first 10% or so. However, the feeling that this book breached private thoughts that I shouldn't have ever been exposed to in the hopes that the author could find peace with the choices he made during his own life never escaped me. I hope that his belief that sharing these stories helped the men who offered them up. RATING: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars for those sites that cannot handle fractions of a star. DISCLOSURE: I received this book free of charge from the publisher without obligation, although a fair and unbiased review would be appreciated. (I suspect, however, that they wish I hadn't waited 2 years to do it.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
F h w
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a waste of money unless you love history and wars do not buy is
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poop
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cuss not nice u now know