Wounded Warriors: Those for Whom the War Never Ends

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Overview

Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell prided himself on being a hard-core Marine—a patriotic Devil Dog on his third tour of Iraq. Then his brain was shredded with mortar shrapnel.

Today, Maxwell has a large angry scar on the left side of his head. He forgets words, his wife has to read to him, and he drags one foot when he walks. Yet he works twelve-hour days as commander of the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. For these warriors, Iraq ...

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Wounded Warriors: Those for Whom the War Never Ends

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Overview

Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell prided himself on being a hard-core Marine—a patriotic Devil Dog on his third tour of Iraq. Then his brain was shredded with mortar shrapnel.

Today, Maxwell has a large angry scar on the left side of his head. He forgets words, his wife has to read to him, and he drags one foot when he walks. Yet he works twelve-hour days as commander of the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. For these warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan will never quite be in the past. And the struggle never ends.

Other stories in Wounded Warriors depict life inside an L.A. crack gang, ex-pat Vietnam War veterans in Thailand, and five days in Las Vegas with basketball anti-hero Kobe Bryant—all of it captured stylishly by the writer who has been called “the beat poet of American journalism.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Paste, November 2008
“[Sager] is the Switzerland of reporters. No matter how heartbreaking, provocative or shocking the subject matter, Mr. Neutral coolly watches and writes. And the 11 pieces here require an even hand, as they deal largely with extremes…The most powerful story in this collection tells of inner-city teens in Philadelphia who raise and fight pit bulls. I read the piece three times in amazement—and I never, ever, want to read it again.”

Kirkus, 08/01/08
“A downbeat but engrossing volume…Chronicles the marginalized, forgotten and despised in cool, transparent prose that eschews judgment and melodrama…Rewarding reading.”

Military Writers Society America, 10/08
“Powerful stories…[Sager] compassionately, and without personal prejudices, manages to gently and psychologically dissect what he sees and senses…He gives us portraits of real human beings with flesh and blood emotional issues; and yes, with their own inner wars…Entertaining and fascinating…At the end of the book, you will find yourself changed in some way. Call it empathy, or just a compassionate response to have seen and become aware of another man’s pain and suffering; but you will remember these men that you read about long after putting this book to rest.”

InfoDad.com, 10/30/08
“Sager profiles these people with sensitivity…His book is best when it looks at non-celebrity, non-rich fighters being forced to cope, day after day, with the realities of living with broken bodies in a world they hoped to remake but that instead remade them.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer, “New in Paperback,” 11/7/08
“Sager's anthology of work treads a dark path. Standout pieces include his unnerving title article about severely wounded veterans of the Iraq war, a pair of articles tracking users of heroin and crystal meth, and a piece from 1987 about Sager's attempt to interview Marlon Brando in Tahiti.”

Deseret News, 11/9/08
“The writing is crisp and clear in every one of the book’s 11 chapters…Wounded Warriors is a sampler of the best of American magazine writing over the past 25 years, even if the stories all come from a single author…Sager’s range is prodigious, but his focus never wanders…Sager doesn’t leave any question unanswered; he is giving us the whole story…Sager gets so close to his subjects that readers may feel like a rush-hour commuter rubbernecking at a wreck—maybe you should avert your eyes, but then again maybe you shouldn’t, because truth is being revealed. The throbbing of these wounds is real, and we should know, we need to know, what these men and women feel and experience so we can empathize and act. Despite the gritty details, Sager has a deft, easy, readable touch that never becomes heavy-handed. He clearly cares for these people, and in his hands, so does the reader.”

Denver Post, 11/20/08
“Mike Sager never ceases to amaze. He finds access into the private lives of individuals good and bad, rich and poor, famous and nearly anonymous…Because Sager is such a charismatic observer, skilled interviewer and pyrotechnic stylist, his magazine stories are haunting, memorable…That's the strength of Sager the journalist: allowing readers to experience reality without leaving an armchair.”

ForeWord, Nov/Dec 2008
“Sager exhumes real people behind potent stereotypes…[Sager] dissects his subjects with surgical skill, serving up juicy splices of lives lived in the trenches… Sager is brilliant at getting folks to talk…Sager looks into the lives of some of society’s walking wounded and sees their humanity, their accomplishments, and their everyday battle to survive.”

San Diego CityBeat, 11/25/08
“Sager writes about people we idealize, some we ignore and those we fear…His reports, especially those from way under the mainstream cultural radar, create a mosaic of American lives that we’ve looked away from…His cinematic writing whets your curiosity…His self-effacing style evokes George Orwell’s famous dictum that good writing should be as transparent as a pane of glass…Not everything he writes is flattering, but all of it is meticulously observed, accurate and respectful.”

American Author’s Association
“A book that will move you…[Sager] compassionately, and without personal prejudices, manages to gently and psychologically dissect what he sees and senses…He gives us portraits of real human beings with flesh and blood emotional issues; and yes, with their own inner wars…Entertaining and fascinating…At the end of the book, you will find yourself changed in some way…You will remember these men that you read about long after putting this book to rest.”

Multicultural Review, Winter 2009
“Sager’s writing is engaging, generating fascination in the situations of forgotten people…Sager expertly brings the reader close to an astonishingly diverse collection of people, exposing the gritty reality faced by those for whom the ideal image of success is out of reach…Sager weaves together eclectic stories from his long journalistic career that reveal the daily challenges faced by peripheral people who are getting by the best they know how…This collection is an important contribution.”

Out & About Magazine
, 2/09

“[Sager] gets into his stories so deep he almost doesn’t find a way out…He goes to these places so we don’t have to. Lucky for us, he comes back with some great stories.”

Performances Magazine
, 2/09

“Like a silver-tongued Margaret Mead, Sager slips into foreign societies almost unnoticed and lives among the natives, chronicling his observations in riveting long-form narratives that recall a less tragic, less self-involved Hunter S. Thompson and a more relatable Tom Wolfe. Infiltrating hard-to-penetrate subcultures is Sager’s gift…Wounded Warriors takes readers places few writers can…Throughout, Sager avoids the pitfall of inserting himself into the story where he doesn’t belong…His subtlety honors the reader’s intelligence, and his absence in each story allows the true power of his characters to emerge. In some way, each of Sager’s subjects is among the walking wounded, and the reader finds empathy for even the unlikeliest of heroes.”

Feminist Review, 2/15/09
“Sager connects with each of his characters in a unique way.”

Kentucky Advocate
, 4/19/09

“Sager will bring you to tears. This beautiful book is filled with stories of heroes come home, and it will touch even the hardest of hearts.”
 
Leatherneck Marine Corps magazine, September issue
“Sager has written a gripping account of how these Marines are coping with their combat-altered lives. An experienced interviewer, he lets the Marines’ stories speak for themselves…Powerful stuff.”

Midwest Book Review, August 2009
“Sager has written a gripping account of how these Marines are coping with their combat- altered lives. An experienced interviewer, he lets the Marines' stories speak for themselves…Powerful stuff.”  

Publishers Weekly

Veteran journalist Sager (Revenge of the Donut Boys) presents an amalgam of celebrity portraits and cautionary tales in a collection as addictive as the drugs and violence that fuel much of the author's reporting. The title story goes inside a pioneering program at Camp Lejeune, N.C., that helps wounded Marines-many suffering from traumatic brain injuries-return to society. In other pieces, Sager extends his war metaphor in portraits of the famous, the anonymous and the tragic: the "misunderstood" Kobe Bryant, Rev. Al Sharpton ("one of the most reviled men in America") and nightclub bouncer and "smartest man in America," Chris Langan. Some of the most compelling, and tragic, portraits are drawn from the darkest corners of American society: Generation H-"children of the nineties"-heroin addicts in New York City and teenage gang members in Venice, Calif. The author turns the spotlight on himself in "Hunting Marlon Brando," a highly personal and quixotic odyssey to track down the elusive actor. Sager has made a career of finding the unexpected story and telling it with empathy and narrative skill-a talent that's on display throughout this eclectic and consistently arresting collection. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Esquire writer at large Sager (Deviant Behavior, 2008, etc.) collects some of his bleakest investigative pieces in a downbeat but engrossing volume. The author chronicles the marginalized, forgotten and despised in cool, transparent prose that eschews judgment and melodrama. Horribly wounded young veterans of the Iraq War stagnate in a stateside dormitory, bodies damaged beyond repair, their futures uncertain-yearning, incredibly, to get back to the fight, wistfully watching videos of suicide bombings and firefights on YouTube. Young Puerto Rican boys living in abject poverty devote themselves to fighting pit bulls to the death in a Philadelphia slum. American expats drift through Thailand in a haze of lassitude and cheap sex. A spoiled middle-class kid succumbs to heroin in New York while once-proud gangbangers in Venice, Calif., forgo blood vendettas in favor of staying high on crack. The news is bad even when Sager profiles a group of people with extremely high IQs, finding most of them to be alienated, frustrated and lonely. Ironically, he shows the morbidly obese making a better go of things, dealing with a world scaled for smaller beings with mordant humor and admirable resourcefulness. A few stories fail to maintain interest. A snapshot of Al Sharpton causing trouble at Liberty Island is vivid and funny, but seems out of place here, as does a standard celebrity puff-piece on NBA star Kobe Bryant. A mild look at Hawaiian meth addicts doesn't make much of an impact within the context of the book's other devastating portraits of drug addiction. The collection ends with a strange, self-indulgent account of the author's quest to track down Marlon Brando on the actor's private island.Sager's voice is very different here-personal, full of pain, uncertainty and frustration-but his tale of self-delusion and obsession makes a fitting end-piece for a clear-eyed, upsetting volume whose primary subject is outsider culture and its discontents. Difficult but rewarding reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306817359
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/6/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 8.94 (w) x 5.92 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Sager, a former contributing editor at Rolling Stone and GQ, is a writer at large for Esquire. Many of his stories have been optioned for film. He lives in La Jolla, California.

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Table of Contents

1 Wounded Warriors 1

2 Generation H 69

3 Big 85

4 A Boy and His Dog in Hell 105

5 The Smartest Man in America 121

6 The Ice Age 137

7 Kobe Bryant Doesn't Want Your Love 151

8 Thailand's Home for Wayward Vets 167

9 The Sharpton Strategy 183

10 Death in Venice 201

11 Hunting Marlon Branda 217

Acknowledgments 257

Permissions 259

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    h

    its kind of funny how the cover is just plane white



















































































































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