Back to basics with books for “we the people”

American identity has always been bound up in war—from the revolutionary war, to the civil war that ended slavery, to the two world wars that launched America as a superpower. But what do the more recent wars say about America as a country, and how should “we the people” respond


Look at the U.S.A’ by Peter van Agtmael is a chronicle of post-9/11 America, at war and at home, as seen through the lens of one of Magnum Photos’ leading photographers. 

Through reportage and memoir, in photographs and words, ’Look at the U.S.A’ documents the major fault lines that have defined this era, beginning with the war in Iraq and ending with the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. 

According to the Washington Post: “The book, which combines personal reflections with some arresting imagery, becomes an intimate memoir of a man reckoning and wrestling with the importance of events kick-started by 9/11.” 


When Phil Klay left the Marines after serving as an officer in Iraq, he found himself a part of the community of veterans who have no choice but to grapple with the meaning of their wartime experiences—for themselves and for the country. 

Phil Klay is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and the author of Redeployment, which won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, and Missionaries, which was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2020 by the Wall Street Journal. 

According to The Wall Street Journal; “Uncertain Ground solidifies Mr. Klay’s place among the best of an increasing number of writers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and, while recounting their experiences in combat realistically and unheroically, raise profound questions about the nature of contemporary warfare.”

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