The best way to describe Junger’s book is to say what it is not. “War” does not attempt to explain the strategy behind the American war in Afghanistan, or the politics of Afghanistan, or even the people of the Korangal Valley. As the action unfolds, Junger makes no attempt to connect it to anything else happening inside the country.
Instead, he uses the platoon (the second of Battle Company, part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade) as a kind of laboratory to examine the human condition as it evolved under the extraordinary circumstances in which these soldiers fought and lived. And what a laboratory it is. The men of Second Platoon are young, heavily armed and crammed together inside a tiny mountain outpost supplied by helicopter and surrounded by enemies determined to get inside. Indeed, there aren’t many places on earth where such intense and bizarre circumstances could be duplicated.