In this small but perfectly lucid book, National Magazine Award–winning journalist Junger (War) meditates on tribal sentiment, how it aids “loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning,” and how the disappearance of this sentiment has had toxic consequences for modern societies. During the U.S.’s wars of settlement with its native population, many white men defected to, and many white captives were reluctant to return from, what Junger describes as a Stone Age lifestyle; he wonders why, and suspects that the material benefits of Western culture couldn’t compete with “the intensely communal nature of an Indian tribe,” which was “more or less run by consensus and broadly egalitarian.” In the present day, the close interdependence of a tribal lifestyle and its shared resources are things Westerners only experience in combat situations and disasters. For all the comfort of modern society, Junger thinks, its “profound alienation” has led in America to income inequality, behaviors destructive to the environment, high rates of suicide and mental illness (including PTSD), and rampage shootings. Ending with a look at the country’s divisive political rhetoric, Junger suggests that the U.S. could cure its ills if we could only focus on the collective good. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary. (May)
"Junger has raised one of the most provocative ideas of this campaign seasonand accidentally written one of its most intriguing political books."The New York Times"
There are three excellent reasons to read Sebastian Junger's new book: the clarity of his thought, the elegance of his prose, and the provocativeness of his chosen subject. Within a compact space, the sheer range of his inquiry is astounding."S. C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon"
Sebastian Junger has turned the multifaceted problem of returning veterans on its head. It's not so much about what's wrong with the veterans, but what's wrong with us. If we made the changes suggested in TRIBE, not only our returning veterans, but all of us, would be happier and healthier. Please read this book."Karl Marlantes, New York Times bestselling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War"
Junger uses every word in this slim volume to make a passionate, compelling case for a more egalitarian society."Booklist"
The author resists the temptation to glorify war as the solution to a nation's mental ills and warns against the tendency "to romanticize Indian life," but he does succeed in showing "the complicated blessings of 'civilization,' " while issuing warnings about divisiveness and selfishness that should resonate in an election year. The themes implicit in the author's bestsellers are explicit in this slim yet illuminating volume."Kirkus Reviews"
Thought-provoking...a gem."The Washington Post"
TRIBE is an important wake-up call. Let's hope we don't sleep through the alarm."Minneapolis Star Tribune"
Compelling...Junger...offers a starting point for mending some of the toxic divisiveness rampant in our current political and cultural climate."The Boston Globe"
Junger argues with candor and grace for the everlasting remedies of community and connectedness."O Magazine"
TRIBE is a fascinating, eloquent and thought-provoking book..packed with ideas...It could help us to think more deeply about how to help men and women battered by war to find a new purpose in peace."The Times of London"
This is a brilliant little book driven by a powerful idea and series of reflections by the bestselling author of the bestselling books The Perfect Storm and War, and the film documentary Restrepo, about fighting in Afghanistan...The strongest experience of companionship and community often comes with the extremes of war. Junger is particularly good on the stress and exhilaration experienced by reporters, aid workers, and soldiers in combat - and the difficulties they face on return...I would give this gem of an essay to anyone embarking on the understanding of human society and governance."Evening Standard "
An electrifying tapestry of history, anthropology, psychology and memoir that punctures the stereotype of the veteran as a war-damaged victim in need of salvation. Rather than asking how we can save our returning servicemen and women, Junger challenges us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether we can save ourselves."The Guardian "
Junger has identified one of the last cohesive tribes in America and, through an examination of its culture of self-subjugation grasps for a remedy that might reunite a fragmented civilian society."Elliot Ackerman, Times Literary Supplement
TRIBE is an extended reflection on the need for inclusion and belonging...written by an impassioned war correspondent less concerned with the scars of battle than the psychological dislocation experienced by those returning home, who have experienced tribal inclusion, but now face a future without it.Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
TRIBE is a fascinating look into why inspires ancient human virtues of honor, courage and commitment on the battlefield, and the difficulty that can arise when a combat tour is over. While the book may easily fit in a soldier's small cargo pocket, it packs immensely valuable insight that is sure to bring understanding to military and civilian readers alike.San Antonio Express-News
I first read about this history several months ago in Sebastian Junger's excellent book, TRIBE. It has haunted me since. It raises the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.David Brooks, The New York Times
A short book with a solid argument about the downside of civilization's progress. The latest from Vanity Fair contributing editor Junger (War, 2010, etc.) mixes memoir, reportage, and historical research into a case for the advantages of the tribe and how connective, communal benefits are lost as society moves toward competition and individuality. The author begins with the early settlement of America, examining how colonists introduced to tribal life, or captured into it, might convert to it, but the process rarely worked the other way. "Indians almost never ran away to join white society," writes Junger. "Emigration always seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal, and it left Western thinkers flummoxed about how to explain such an apparent rejection of their society." The author then makes a leap in his argument that is as provocative as some will find it counterintuitive: how war and catastrophe seem to instill that tribal spirit that individuals have otherwise lost and how the stress of such times serves to improve mental health rather than threaten it. As jarring as conjecture about "the positive effects of war on mental health" might seem, Junger amasses plenty of academic and anecdotal support. From there, he makes another leap, to PTSD, asserting that its prevalence stems less from the traumas of battle than from the difficulties of rejoining a disjointed, divided society after collective tribal bonding. "The problem doesn't seem to be the trauma on the battlefield so much as reentry into society," he writes, showing how PTSD can affect returnees who have never experienced combat. The author resists the temptation to glorify war as the solution to a nation's mental ills and warns against the tendency "to romanticize Indian life," but he does succeed in showing "the complicated blessings of ‘civilization,' " while issuing warnings about divisiveness and selfishness that should resonate in an election year. The themes implicit in the author's bestsellers are explicit in this slim yet illuminating volume.