05 November 2011
Book 31 of 2011
31) Wounded Warriors: True Tales of Iraq, Vietnam and Those For Whom the War Never Ends by Mike Sager
Much like Chuck Klosterman's IV, this book is a collection of articles written over Mike Sager's career that, at first glance, appears to focus on veterans who have come back from battle changed. Unfortunately, the "wounded warriors" premise stretches pretty thin to include drug addicts (a warrior of addiction?), kids involved with dog fighting (warriors of poverty?) and Kobe Bryant (...I got nothing.), which ultimately takes away from what would appear to be an important work.
My favorite articles were the titular one about how Iraq war veterans deal with their injuries, be they emotional or physical and the story on the morbidly obese man who comes to terms with his obesity but still has to deal with everyone else's lack of acceptance of it. In both, the motif of the wounded warrior was clear, and he takes the subject matter seriously with a depth that isn't often found in the latter. He'll sometimes switch between his third person narrative to a first person account of the subject's experience, which most writers/reporters don't have the courage to do.
While I didn't care for a few of the stories (the Vietnam veterans sticking around Thailand felt cliche and the Marlon Brando article that ends the book was self-indulgent), I enjoyed his overall writing style and was curious how he managed to secure his access with some of his subjects. Sager gets in deep with the poor Dominican kids who engage in vicious dogfighting, and how he gained the access to a bunch of poverty stricken adolescents as a middle-aged white guy felt like a more interesting story than the one he was telling.