* Tribe by Sebastian Junger

Ah! The perils of extending an article into a book, even a very short book. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging would be a glorious op-ed on how to treat returning veterans, by enfolding them into a community not just of them, but of all of us, miles above the bland “Thank you for your service” accolades that make me queasy when I hear them, and may well ignite rage in the recipients. Alas, the author starts with long and mostly unsupported pontifications on how traditional, tribal societies are much superior to our own. Perhaps it is true in the way that they support returning warriors, but surely not in every way. And the high percentage of violent deaths in many tribal societies, including the ones cited by the author, is not exactly encouraging. It’s too bad that the central message is obscured, namely that by drawing combatants from a small portion of the US population and isolating them further upon their return we provide a deplorable level of support for them to reenter civilian life.

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