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tv   In Depth with Sebastian Junger  CSPAN  July 4, 2016 1:00am-4:01am EDT

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challenged. i grew up very affluent. and i decided to set off and see my country and hitchhiked across the country. i bought gear and put it in a backpack and all set and prepared. very responsible young man. i set out and wound up in jilette, wyoming which is a tough mining town. i was outside of town trying to get a ride for hours. >> host: you hitchhiked? >> guest: yeah, i hitchhiked. and guys were throwing beer bottles at me. where i hitchhiked from the twin cities. i had never seen the west and i was awe struck. i saw someone walking toward me from town that looked like bad news. you know, i am a young kid out in the great land and definitely kind of jumpy and this guy is walking toward me and i remember he was in a canvis union suit,
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hair dirty and matted, homeless and struggling. he was a big dude. he came up to me and i was instantly on my guard. and he said where are you going and he said i am going to california and he said how much food do you have. i thought he wanted to rob me. he wanted me to open up my bag and i didn't know what was going to happen but i was jumpy about it. i said i have a little cheese. he was carrying a lunch box and said i lib in a broken down car
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and he said i walk out to the coal mine to see if anyone is sick and they can hire me. most days they don't need to hire he and today they don't need me so i will not need my lunch. he had a baloney sandwich, apple and bag of potato chips and he said i want you to have my food because you will need all you can to get to california. you can imagine how bad i felt. it was my first lesson not in generosity but taking responsibility for another person you don't know. he looked at me on the highway and saw a brother. he saw someone on foot, homeless in his huge land. he didn't know i was having an adventure he thought where was a brother and walked out there to check and make sure i was all right. >> host: did you make to to
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california? >> guest: i did. i went to idaho, seattle, and down the coast. i was going to hitchhike home but ran out of steam. back then people express flew you home for 150 and i had 153. >> host: how did you end up in nava navaho? >> guest: i trained with their best runner. in the summer of 1983, at any rate, i got out of college and wanted to be a writer and journalist. i got a job waiting tables and started writing and published things for local newspapers and wrote stories. i got a job as a climb for tree companies eventually. i would work 50-70 feet nathaniel philbrick air on a
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rope with a chain saw taking down trees and -- in the -- and i got hurt doing it. it is a dangerous job. i got hurt and i was recovering from that and thought maybe i should write about dangerous jobs. yauz about to turn 30 years old and i was like i have to do something. -- i was. commercial fishing was one of the dangerous jobs i wanted to write about. a huge storm sunk a local boat and that set me on the trajectory toward "the perfect storm: a true story of men against the sea, fire, a death in belmont, and war." but another dangerous job was war reporter. in case i could not sell my storm book i thought i would be to where there is a civil war and learn to be a war reporter and either get write about war reporting or be a war reporter. i was trying to buy as many lottery tickets to my future. i wound up there as a free lance
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war reporter in the summer of 1993 and 1994. >> host: how did you survive over there day-to-day? did you have money or a backup system? >> guest: no, i went over the are the same backpack, sleeping back and everything i hiked across. i had a couple thousand dollars. i fell in with other free-lance reporters and we squeezed into one room in the radio and television building and were sharing expenses. they had been there longer than me and i started immolating them and doing reports and newspapers. i spent more money than i made but it was a kind of journalism school. i learned how to be a journalist in a foerreign environment, in war, and fell in love. i had to come home to write my
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book, "the perfect storm: a true story of men against the sea, fire, a death in belmont, and war," i had an agent back then. i never made him a dime but he believed in believed in me and faxed me over there and said i sold your book and you have to come home and write it. i was a first-time author and book and i went home and spent a couple years writing "the perfect storm: a true story of men against the sea, fire, a death in belmont, and war" and as soon as i delivered the manuscript and this was 1996. you didn't hit send back then you put it in a box, got on the subway and went to fifth avenue where my publisher was and handed it to your editor. the next day i was on a plane to deli and on into afghanistan. in the summer of 1996 to watch the taliban offensive that would take coble kabul and overrun
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afghanistan. five years before 9/11. i went back to reporting as fast as i could. >> host: is it addicting? >> guest: addiction is a chemical issue and i don't think it is addictive on that level. metaphorically yes. i would say your identity develops independent on the drama and the importance of the job. i think soldiers have a similar thing. when you say addiction, it sounds misleading mechanical and chemical and i don't think it is. i think it is an identity problem. >> host: from your most recent book "tribe" you write humans don't mind perfectism they thrive on it.
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modern life thrives on making people not feel necessary and it is time for that to end. >> guest: i believe in evolution and believe humans are a primate species. we evolved to live in groups of 40-60 individuals. our psychology and wiring in the brain and behavior during a crisis reflects that. the site of a platoon in a modern military force reflects that. what we have are we unemployedern society are basically walking around in our bodies that haven't evolved physically in 25,000 years. there is a kind of cost and and
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the cost of living in small communal groups and in groups like that there is no individual survival outside of group survival. the group and the individual completely share interests and concerns. you get your sense of security in the world by being necessary to the group. if you are not necessary to any group you are in danger because they don't need you and you don't belong to theme and you are alone in the jungle and will die. when you feel necessary and volunteer to do something for a group and suddenly realize a group of people are counting on you it feels good because it means you have physical and emotional security around you. and the modern society has allowed individuals to live very
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individualistic lives. your neighborhood doesn't need you to help you gather food. you don't need your neighborhood to help defend you from your other neighborhood. right? there is a great freedom in that individualism. the downside is you don't feel anything necessary to any group bigger than your immediate family and we are wired to think that is bad news. we are now in an insecure and dangerous place. with soldiers come back combat they come back from a platoon for each person is necessary and reproduces our evolutionary path closely with the group dynamics. they come back to that to this individualistic society where you can crank your music as loud as you want in your bedroom and do whatever you want and it is
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all wonderful except you lose that sense of safety that is being part of a group. even soldiers not in combat and most were not come back and encounter psychological struggles. 25% of peace core volunteers even when they come back to the country sink into a depression much like soldiers and soldier whose were not in combat. it seems to be a transition problem. >> host: what i learned from your book "tribe" is two things. the suicide rates of communal organizations or communal living arrangements the suicide rate was nil or very, very low. and then a lot of white people when the indians were being, you know, pushed west went to the
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indian side of life. >> guest: yeah, i think the por portion of people along the frontier who abducted and didn't want to be returned was low but what was significant was it never went the other way around. and benjamin franklin and other thinkers and writers at the time were basically wondering why is it we have a superior christian society in their mind? why is it that white people were also running off and killing the tribes? these were their words not mine. and tribal people were never running off and joining the indians. people go native not civilized. it was a concern of colonial thinkers and christian thinkers calling them indians and s
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savages. i thought about that and i have known that fact most of my life and wondered if it was true. when i was in afghanistan, where was with a platoon in combat and there was a lot of combat and closeness and human connection. the guys, you know, we are on this ridge top getting attacked a lot and there was no internet or communication with the outside world or no way to basic, no cooked food, nothing except combat and each other. the guys couldn't wait to get off the hill top and back to italy where they are based and have themselves a good time. you can imagine what that looked like. after a few months of that when i caught up with them, a real depression set in and a lot of them wanted to go back to afghanistan and didn't want to return to the united states and if they had a choice they would be back to combat.
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it made me think about the phenomena i read along the american frontier. why doesn't anyone want to go back to the civilization if it is obviously wonderful thing? we have cars, television, surgery, where is the problem? that is what my book is about. what is it about modern society that is actually unappealing. >> host: did you have that reaction after returning? >> guest: i had a lot of psychological problems when i came back and i was just a civilian journalist. i spent a lot of time there and your sense of physical safety comes directly out of the experience of being part of a group. the deal is if you are in a group you are counting on for your own safety it means that you have to be prepared for risk your own life for them as well.
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it is reciprocal; right? the experience you end up having is one -- it is an odd one because you feel safer in that situation because you identify a willingness to risk your life for other people. that is what gives you your sense of safety. the willingness to take a risk for others. it is a kind of altruism where you don't need to feel back home in civilization. along with that comes an incredibly powerful bond and real lover. one of the guys said in the platoon there is guys who straight up hate each other but we would die for each other. when you experience that kind of unity it is a very profound thing. i experienced enough of it even as a civilian that when i came
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home i felt incredible. i was married at the time in my 40s and i felt incredibly dislocated and depressed. my marriage didn't last actually. i fell completely disconnected from my wife and everyone i love. it was a really strange experience. what i kept thinking about was those guys and it was extremely confusing. >> this is from your previous book, war. men with completely remake themselves in war. you could be anything back home: shy, ugly, rich, poor, unpopular and it won't matter because it is of no consequence in a fire fight and therefore of no consequence period. guest ye>> guest: yeah it is on unconsciously appealing thing about the military or any extreme environment. i think it happens on teams that climb everest or whatever and
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firemen in the city and bl fishermen and whatever. all of these situations where people depend on others for their lives and everyone doing their job and functioning well. it doesn't matter what kind of funky past you have as long as you do your job well. that means everyone is self defining. in other words, if you do your job well, your past, history, what you look like, what your father did or didn't do, whether you are in prison or not, none of it matters. you have access to a fresh start in the eyes of your peers around you and the people you love. who wouldn't rick their life for that? -- risk. the reason high cool is so miserable for so many people is
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you are judged for things you have no control over. what you look like, what kind of family you were born into. being in in combat you don't bring that with you out there. you just bring your willingness to die for other or not. >> host: this is from "tribe." live in an american suburb left me somewhat irresponsiblely dealing with tornado or something that would make us band together to survive and something that makes us feel like a tribe. >> guest: we evolved to live in small groups where people depend on each other for survival. i looked around in this very safe sururb and i -- you know, i was acutely aware i never
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demonstrated by personal value to my community. where -- i was a strong 18-year-old man going unused by my community. that is new. in modern society we are wealthy enough and stable enough that a young man can feel unnecessary to the people around him. it is extraordinary. it doesn't feel good. >> host: when you got your draft card when you turned 18 why didn't you sign up? >> guest: i was born in 1962 and group up during vietnam in a liberal part of the county. every adult i knew was outraged by vietnam and they ended the draft. i got this selective service card in the mail.
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girls don't get this. many don't know about it. boys get it and still do. if you are male and turn 18 you get a card from your government saying we want to know where you live so we can draft you in case we need you. i was like what is is this? i thought the draft was over? war is immoral. i go to my father and growing up in europe and his father was jewish and they grew up in france and when they left france and ended up in the united states. i said i am not signing this. and he said you are signing it. there are thousands of graves for young americans your age in france. they died freeing the world from fascism. he said you don't owe your country nothing. you owe your country something.
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you might owe your country your life. if a war comes along that is immoral and unnecessary it is your moral duty to protest it. but when it is moral like world war ii you help your community. that feeling of being something bigger is intoxicating to people. >> you live in new york city, have you found that platoon size
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community to be part of something bigger. the reason that things like sports team or intermural hockey or the work group in your office or the construction crew or whatever it is. the reason those things feel good is because they mimic the kind of tribal connections that characterize our living groups for hundreds of thousands of years. i live on the lower east side of manhattan. it is a neighborhood that is quite poor and as a result quite familiar. i know the street crossing guard, the meter maids, the car garage down the street and everyone knows each other. it feels human and connected in
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ways i really, really like and during hurricane sandy the building i am in organized a community defense. they posted guard shifts at the front door with machetes and they guarded the parliament -- apartments. these are poor people. one lady, a woman organized guard shifts with the front door and she had a musheachete and t took turns standing there keeping the building safe. when i was a kid outside of boston i would have loved to be part of a situation where i had to stand guard. that is like, you mean my building needs me? that would have been an
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intoxicating feeling. >> host: what is the corn val y valley? >> guest: it is a valley where the platoon where was with was stationed for more than a year. there was a lot of combat there. for a period while i was there something like a six of all kinetic activity which is what the military calls combat was happening in and around the immediate area of the corn gall. i and my colleagues made a movie called "restrepo" that brought a lot of attention to the area and i wrote about the second battalion air company we were with. a lot of other great journalists wound up there as well. and so it became emblematic for
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the frustrating problem. >> host: how long did you spend? >> guest: they were there 15 month and tim and i did five one month trips. we covered a fair amount of time. >> host: how much technology was used there? the military technology? >> guest: well an m-4 is technology. if you mean electronics and eves draufbing devices they had eves dropping drones over us. not a lot. out of "restrepo" we were really were 20 guys on a hill top and the fighting was pretty old style like infantry on the ground with heavy packs and
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guns. i wouldn't say technology really took the balance particular. >> when the americans left the corn gull valley was it controver controversy? >> guest: i am sure. they fought hard for it and then pulled out. so i think inevitable it was. the controversy failed to understand what the point of being there was in the first place. it was never meant as a permanent base. the country pulled out of all of afghanistan. they first wanted to pull out of the finger values that were using up a lot of air resources to resupply these tiny outposts. the point of the american basis in the corrin gull was the valley was being used to insurgeant attacks along an
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important area. so u.s. troops in that area blocked that capability for the taliban. when they finished the development project in the pegs they pulled out of the corn gull as well. but of course the controversy was a political one not a strategic one. that is where there controversy took place and that is what it stood for in the public's perception. >> host: sebastian junger, when you look at your body of works, vanity fair articles, is there a common thread or theme? >> guest: well, let's see, i guess i have often written about small groups of peep, mostly men, who are reliant on one another to survive. this was a cold case murder from
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the early '60s and different but my other books, people in small groups doing -- working with the margins of society in dangerous places are -- as an anthropologist it is interesting to me. you can see this in stark ways in those situations. i am endlessly fascinated by that. >> good afternoon and welcome to booktv's in depth program. our guest this month is sebastian junger. this is a three hour program where we walk with one author about his her or body of work and this month it is mr. sebastian junger who has written books, a murder in belmont, "the perfect storm: a true story of men against the sea, fire, a death in belmont, and war," "fire, war" and his most recent book is called tripe. if you could like to par
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adverti pawe will put up the numbers. and you can send a text message. this is not for phone calls. 202-838-6251. and if you would, if you you do send a text message, give us your first name and your city so we can identify you that way. there are several other ways of getting ahold of us. you can make a comment on our facebook page. or you can join us on twitter,@booktv is our twitter handle. and finally send an e-mail to lots of different ways for you to connect with us this afternoon. now, mr. junger i want to read a
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quote from an interview you did and this is about how you write and what you look for. readers just aren't that interested in people's biographies. they don't really care that much what town they grew up in. i really try to avoid the details that seem not necessary and ultimately not that interesting. you don't think your background affects who you are? >> guest: oh, i do and if someone's background was affecting their behavior in front of me and the situation i am reporting on i would absolutely talk about it. but in a lot of newspaper reporting there is a profunk and
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if you are writing non fiction books whether someone is from -- perfunctory -- but if someone is from boston or new york you don't always need to say it. when i was in "restrepo" i had no idea where those people were and what interested me was who they were while they were there. one guy, bobby wilson, had astro southern accent and was what many would think of as a classic red neck. he was one of the smartest guys out there. but i had no idea what town he is from. >> host: who is brenden o'burn? >> guest: he is the main character of my book "war".
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he and i extremely good friends and we talk almost every day. he was the 1st one to get out of the army after that deployment and as a result he was the first one to suffer significant psychological consequences. the guys who stayed in -- it was interesting. war is traumatizing particularly for a unit like that. only 10% of u.s. military is engaged in combat and they were in that 10%. so you would think the guys who stayed in and kept deploying would have the most severe psychological consequences but actually it was the guys who got out. as they got out of the army one by one they psychologically crashed. that is what got me thinking about maybe it is coming home that is hard and not combat itself. so o'burn was the first to get out and he crashed and we were really good friends and i did
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everything i could to help him. he is good now and almost three years sober. he is a horrific drinking problem from when he was young. i write about it in my book so mow secrets. his dad shot him twice during an argument when he was a kid and brenden went to juvenile detention because of it and told the police his dad shot him in self defense. he went into the army from there. we were out at "restrepo" and he said without any irony he was telling the story of getting shot by his dad but he said it is all good and everything happens for a reason because without that i would not be here. and he meant literally like joining the army and being part of this group he felt was essential to hes well-being and he was grateful it turned out that way. >> what is is he doing today?
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he is in college and got straight a's in the first full academic year. he is doing great. he is doing really well. >> host: where did the name "restrepo" come from? >> guest: that was the name of the platoon medic who cause killed almost two months into the deployment. it was the first time when i was with those guys when we got into a pretty serious fire fight and a few weeks after that my first trip restepo was killed. he immigrated to america as a child with his bomb and died fighting for this country at the bottom of a hill in afghanistan. >> host: you made a documentary? >> guest: my colleague and i tim herringtan made a documentary called "restrepo."
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it was about what it feels like to be at war. it was all men out there. the platoon was all men. it wasn't a political film. if the soldiers had argued the merits of the war, had they been having that conversation the rest of the country has been, it would have been in the film. but they were not. they were fighting and surviving and trying to do thaur their job and that is what the film was about. i am politically liberate but interestingly the fact the phillip w-- film wasn't politicl was criticized by people on the left. it was ironic. the press is not supposed to pass judgment. it is supposed to report. when fox news does it the left
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the gets upset. it was so funny to watch them turn around and do the same thing about their own hot button issue. >> guest: you have made a couple documentaries now. you enjoy that process? >> guest: i have made four documentaries. yes, i do enjoy it. i mean, it is a labor of love. you cannot really make a living at it. but it compliments writing books very very well. books engage a certain part of your brain and documentaries and film engage another part of the brain. if you are reading a book about war and a fire fight breaks out and you read that the sound of machine gun and whatever that looks like in tech or there is an explosion you don't jump in your arm chair because there is
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an explosion on the pages of a book. your brain doesn't think you are over there. your brain thinks you are in an arm chair reading about war. if you are in a movie theater, a dark theater, and watching a film about war, and an explosion goes off. the hum vee i was writing in got hit boy a road side bomb everyone in the theater jumps because their brain doesn't know they are not in the hum vee. the wonderful thing about documentaries and books is you can do these two things that affect different parts of the brain and compliment each other and they can give you a complete experience of war or i suppose marriage or work or whatever your focus is. >> sebastian junger, how does a country of libya figure into your story? >> "restrepo" did very well. we won the grand surprise at sun
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dance. tim and i. we both were co-director, co-producers, and everything together and won the grand jury prize and went on it get a nomination for an oscar. we were out in hollywood together. we didn't win an oscar but we had an amazing time. a wonderful experience. tim and i are brothers. beyond friends and colleagues, we are brothers. we were both almost killed out there doing this project. weep were going to resume -- we -- jobs as journalist. the arab spring is exploded in the middle east and we could not wait to get back into the out into field and keep reporting on this extraordinary time. we had an assignment with vanity fair to cover the civil war in
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libya and at the last moment i could not go for personal reasons. tim went on his own. and on april 20th, 2011, five years ago tim was in a city on the front lines and he and the group he was with were hit boy an 81-millimeter motor and tim bled out in the back of a rebel pickup truck racing for the hospital. i got the phone call in new york probably within about an hour of his death and my whole life changed in that moment. it was the first time i had lost a brother, first time i had lost a peer, someone i was really close to. within an hour i decided i would not report on wars anymore.
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i was married and my wife was like you can keep doing it. even if you survive every time the phone rings i will jump and think it is phone call about you. i realize there is a certain point where risking your life goes from being potentially noble and courageous to just selfish. because you are gambling not only with our own life but the emotional wellbeing and lives of everyone that loves you. in my late 40s i didn't want to be that guy anymore. >> host: officers don't seem to play a big part in the book. as big a part in your book. >> guest: not for any particular reason. they have a difficult job to do and part is retaining a certain emotional remove and
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professional distance from the press and their own men. you know, those guys -- the thing that is so hard on the officers is they are making decisions that potentially will get people killed or garn teed -- guaranteed to get people killed. that is a psychological burden and they deal with it the best they can but it means they are not as easy to write about and open and forth coming as o'burn who doesn't have those awful decisions to make. >> host: at what point when you were in afghanistan did you determine that brendon obourn was going to be your focus in war? >> guest: i wasn't thinking about how to write the book when i was out there. i was just taking as many notes
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as i could and shooting as much video as i can. he was just the guy i got close to. i realized the extraordinary story he told me would make an interesting through line for the book. i didn't realize it when i was out there. >> host: "tribe: on homecoming and belonging" is dedicated to your brothers, john, emery and chief. woo are they? >> >> guest: john was my best trend from grade school. emery was his blood brother. and chief was emery's best, best friend from his early years. the four of us were brothers. john and emery's uncle by marriage was a man named ellis.
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ellis and joana were aunt and uncle to yawn and emery. ellis was hatch apache and born in 1929 out west and well read reading everything from the greeks on up. he was the one who early on said to me, he was a real mentor and uncle figure to me. he said it is funny the white people are running off to join the indians but the indians are never running off to join the white people. and that one sentence from ellis gave me a perspective on modern society that allowed me to see it from the outside. that is crucial if you are a journalist or anthropologist. >> host: this is an interview
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from august 2013. i try to edit my work in different states of mind. i will go running on a hot day and read the 2,000 words i just wrote. if i am upset or really sleepy or if i am drunk i will read this stuff. if you are sleepy and find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you are board by it and want to get to the in the interesting part -- bored --. >> guest: it is an interesting screening mechanisms for what is not relevant. when you find yourself skipping over a section of what you wrote because you are tired or sweaty people will read your work in all different states of mind. you better write it in a way that can survive a fight with our husband, with your wife, a couple drinks after dinner. it better be such compelling and
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solid writing that it be survive the different states of mind and keep the person engaged. >> host: why don't you drink anymore? >> guest: i just realized i didn't want to. a year ago i stopped. i had to stop because i had a health problem drinking can affect. i had an arrhythmic heart condition and didn't drink for a month and it didn't help my heart bud where liked how i felt. there was just one version of me walking around out there and that was something that was exciting and intoxicating and simple and clear. >> host: was alcohol a big part of your life at one point? >> guest: no, no, not at all. moderate drinking even affects
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you and changes you. i liked it and enjoyed it. but i got to a point where i was like i want one version of me. it is exciting and easier to keep track of one person's problem. >> host: what is the half king? gue>> guest: that is a bar i am part-owner with in chelsea. my partners are involved in journalism and filmmaking and we wanted a place that welcomes to the neighborhood and is a home for people in our profession. we are author readings and all kinds of stuff there. it is a cool place. >> host: is it a community? >> guest: the bar? okay. metaphorically, yes. in a literal sense it is the
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people you care for and gather and depend on for your survival. this modern metaphorical sense you could say it is. we employ about 50 people and they know each other like a platoon. they are very -- you know they know each other very, very well. we are sort of -- i guess you could say it is a kind of transtory community. >> sebastian junger now you have been on book tour for "tribe" and written that what is interesting you these days? i hate to put it this way but what i wrote about in tribe was a short book but it includes a lifetime of thinking about who
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we have, why we are the way we are, why modern society the way it is, why people rerespond to combat the way they do. i kind of cleaned out the ref g refrigerator in this book and tried to make sense of the world we all live in.
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>> you write the suicide rate among veterans in "tribe" is a little misleading >> guest: the statistics of 22 vets a day is misleading and narrow. psychologist figured out it wasn't representative of there is a great psychologist craig brian woo did a lot of studies and looked at student veterans
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and found suicidal ideatons was identical to the other nations. it seems to be exposure to atrocities and really violent killing. >> host: sebastian junger have you ever had world war ii or korean war vets come up to you and say that is what i was feeling?
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>> guest: yeah, i have written about what almost feels rude but soldiers miss the war and they are not psycho paths but the civilians that put on the uniform and had an experience but are us. what is going on with that? what i determined is they miss the human bond that is facilitated by hardship danger and adversity. you can take civilians and collapse modern society and see them act the same way.
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many civilians said they pissed the day of strangers sleeping beside each other and everyone pitching in and as hellish as it was but the shared group that re-creates our evolutionary past was powerful and moving to people. so i talk about it like this, right? if you read the comments a significant mount of vets talk about how they miss vietnam. i gave a talk in massachusetts once and an old guy came up and said thank you for all you said. i now understand why i have the
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feelings i do about the war in korea. he started crying and left. he had been bottling this up for half a century and something clicked and he missed his brothers. i talked to a man in boston, massachusetts in world wor two and out of his company, 300 men, seven survived. 7-3 7-300. he said i don't miss the war but i miss my brothers and think about them every day.
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>> do you think we share that ethos? >> modern society is too compartmentalized to have a group experience. if you fought flames on the building in new york city for a little while a modern city like new york will have a shared experience. the suicide rate and rate of violent crime went down after 9/11.
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we subcontract out the things we need to survibe. i don't know oil workers but i put gas in my car. i know it is a tough job and dangerous but i don't have an emotional connection with them. i live in a house made of wood but i don't know know loggers. soldiers are just one professional group most people are not connected to. i think that is evidence of some good things but also there is a downside that maybe makes us feel we are not part of the tribe or the whole and don't have common shared goals and ethos. we lose that and there is a real downside. >> host: sierra leon. what is its connection to you?
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>> guest: where was in the civil war in sierra leon in '99. that war had gone on off and on throughout the '90s. no, it was 2000. the last spasm of violence. it was the first african civil war i have seen. it was terrifying. and the civil war in libya. i came home from those wars affected. i didn't know what ptsd but it had real consequences for me. >> host: from tribe, what i had was short term classic ptsd and from evolutionary perspective it is the response of being
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vigilant and avoiding situations where you are not in control, you want to react to strange noises and sleep lightly and wake easily, you want flash backs and nightmares that remind you of specific threats of life and you want to be angry and depressed. >> guest: we are primates and mammals and evolved to survive hardship and danger. if you life has been in danger it will probably be in danger, too, and the day after that and so you don't want to keep acting to same as you always have. you want to containing -- change your behavior and be alert. you are in a dangerous environment and you want to be alert and these are adaptations of survival. all mammals do this. what is not adaptive is long-term ptsd. so the trauma reaction has
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survival value for weeks and months which is what happened to me. every time i came back from a bad war i would be psychologically affected for some weeks or months and that would go away. when you get stuck in a long term traumatic reaction nazis thought adaptive and it is actually dangerous. that seems to happen to around 1-5 people who were tr traumati. >> host: let's take some calls. tim is calling in from california. >> caller: good afternoon. where -- i wanted to ask about the experience of women. you have talked about men but you haven't talked about how women have also responded?
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sort of the need for the community group belonging and is that different for women? >> guest: you know, during the blitz in london, women were absolutey part of the societal reaction to the -- absolutely -- crisis going on in british society. i spoke along those lines, i recently had the great fortune to go back to a city i was in that was in civil war after being reconstructed and met a woman who was almost killed during a shelling incident early in the war at age 17 and now in her 40s she told me almost embarrassed she said it is funny we all kind of miss the war. these are civilians and not guys who like combat but civilians who paid a huge price for the
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tragedy. and even they miss the war because as she said everyone was together and we all needed each other. it forced a communal existence on people they liked. ... infantry. by definition it was all-male. there were no women out there appeared i have not been around women in combat. i'm sure they're excellent at it. women have a different physical and psychological makeup that manager they react slightly differently. when the ships are down to we humans are wired to survive. women obviously are excellent at that as well, just like men. close quote dave in tennessee, texas. mr. junger, will technology to her what it means to be human? >> i've been asked to stay into
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the future. i don't think it's going to change. it means to be connected to other humans. that is the basic rupaul truism at the core of our human mix. spirit that is what separates us from others vcs. our survival is predicated on group interaction and sacrifices of the individual for the group. i don't think technology will change that. technology during peacetime is to an end of visualization which makes people anxious and depressed. as well as in a society, the suicide rate 10 to go up. but i think at our core, we are humans and the reason the rates are going up is because we are human of the winners surrounded by this technology that is so
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new. >> host: job is calling in from dayton, wyoming. >> caller: high. i was going to say that i have read all of your books and i am very impressed with them. i remember about a month ago i was reading an interview that you gave in "the new york times" book review and a book that you gave a great deal of attention to an even recommended that the president reid is one that i recently ordered. i wonder why you're so impressed with this book. the brief history of humankind. >> yeah, and often in harare goes -- it starts around 2 million years ago when the first hominid societies were performing and takes us right on up to the internet. it talks about humans as a mammalian species, as a very
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exceptional primate pcs. the way he takes that body of knowledge and understands modern society with that, understands capitalism, industrialization, the great religion to me was just incredibly exciting to read about. i recommend it to people because people like to think about things and not up made me think for months. the best books do that. i hope a lot of people read it. >> host: you also recommended that the next president read thomas paine. >> guest: yes, thomas paine was sort of a devilish writer. he wrote a book called the age of reason, where he looked at the sort of logical fallacies of established religion. the use of rationality, the use
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of logic i feel is where our salvation will come or not they vcs. i think we get ourselves into trouble when we are taken over by our passions. thomas pink clearly believed that. he was one of the architects of the american revolution and american independence. the whole idea of the inalienable right of men, individual right that teams don't have a divine right, that no one is born inherently superior to any other person, you can't be born into power over others. you have to earn it. not power, but authority. a three -month-old baby will have authority over other people. how do you know? the divine right of kings
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obviously is an incredibly questionable idea that what european society has an based on an thomas paine took all of that on as he helps construct the ideology of american independent and individual rights. i am noxpert. i just sort of fell in love with the guy. he took -- they took, the framers took as one example individual right in the sort of very profound egalitarianism that they were inspiring to. they check is one of their sources the american indian and the tribal society is profoundly egalitarian. no one is born into a kind of inherent inherited privilege authority and they were intoxicated by that converted
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into the constitution. >> stephen. jane in washington. did you like the hollywood filmmaker book, "the perfect storm." you prefer doing document? >> guest: thank you for that. i enjoyed the film enormously. it was a big dramatic representation of the book i wrote, which was a journalistic interpretation of some did not really happen. i felt that will scan peterson did a great job at turning it into a hollywood movie. i had nothing to do with making a "the perfect storm" and i've been very involved in the making of documentaries. i've got to say it's kind of apples and oranges. >> host: pat or not, illinois asks that the tribal benefit of inclusion and meaning are so low, why has the arc of his jury
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apparently curved in an opposite direction? >> guest: well, benefit doesn't always doesn't always come from meaning. the engine of capitalism and modernization is extremely powerful. another evolutionarily programmed response that we have is towards individualization and individual benefit. human society is this balance in the concerns of the group. you sort of need those. what's captured in modern society is the accumulation of capital has started without ultra 10,000 years ago and i will refer you to harare for this because he had a very interesting chapter about agriculture. he domesticated us rather than the other way around. those processes are very recent
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go. i started 10,000 years ago. those processes have resulted in the feedback loop of capital and technological development and more capitalization. i think are very ancient wiring as humans can't quite keep up with it. it works. we landed men on the moon. we are working on a cure for cancer. we have a polio vaccine. it worked in a lot of ways that evolution -- the evolutionarily adapted, the consequent that were not that happy. at least judging by modern society. >> host: may is calling in from columbus, nebraska appeared you are on booktv with sebastian junger. >> caller: you've been around a lot. how can we have the foreigners respect us more?
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>> guest: that's a simple hard to ask questions. thank you. i have worked all over the world. we are enormously respect that and a lot of the world. we have also done a lot of damage. my father grew up during world war ii and america was seen to have saved the world from fascism by a lot of people. i was in kosovo. i was in bosnia. we sat american led nato intervention, stop those genocides, stopped those wars. there are a lot of very, very grateful people in those countries. all over the world, people want to immigrate to the country. they want to immigrate here and work here. we are very worse record around the world. that doesn't mean we don't make
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terrible mistakes and withal so, for as much as we are but backed it, and desired in some ways, we are also deeply resented. that is a complicated alan >> that a superpower has to circumnavigate is how do you keep from being resented for the very things you are also admired for. i don't think there is a simple answer. >> host: sebastian junger, what is your connection to the state of idaho? >> guest: i was in idaho when i was 23 or whatever it was and then i went back in the early 90s and wrote about forest fires in the crews that brought fires north of boise in the summer of 1992. >> host: how does that compare?
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>> guest: i've never been in a war when i was covering the forest fires. i remember turning to my buddy, john, whom i book is dedicated. we were out there together. we were in a helicopter looking for some fresh lime to flyover. something germanic was going on and i yelled at him. i said something like this forest fires are exciting, imagine what war is like was the thought that came to my mind. >> host: our next call is from steve in poona, idaho. zero ahead, steve. >> caller: thank you. i appreciate that. we certainly do with buyers. that is part of living in the west. i wanted to ask him if seems historically that our wars are more episodic. they have a beginning to when we look back from the world war ii
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era even though i would argue it, today's wars seem to be centralized, very open-ended. i am just wondering, is it more difficult for the veteran should reconnect to society because msn they don't have a clean ending? i had the cold war so i could look at the berlin wall and make some connection to an event. in a sense, is a harder for the veteran today? >> guest: i'm not a psychologist, but i'm doing my best to figure all of this out. i think it probably is harder. world war ii was way more to mod more to vatican the current wars but it had a finite ending. america is engaged in struggles
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that don't end. you know, the war on quote, the war and crime, war on drugs, these are after is the cost a lot of money, the cost a lot of blood. they've been going on for decades. i don't know if it's psychological research on the psychological reason and not going after that we will fight or not say. there is a debate. that compared to finite things, i don't know if anyone sent it back, but it's certainly possible. really interesting idea. >> host: robber, blaine, washington. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: thank you very much for all of your work. i am a survivor and the third marine division in 1969 i have
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been 100% physically and mentally disabled. i have two survivors of two groups of casualty replacement that fit into the dac by the regulars between 1969 and we still haven't got a record. it's basically an unknown event. thank you for doing what you do for the veteran. i lost everybody. all of my friends were killed. everyone except for one. we still are in the unknown. we are in twilight tone here, but we are okay. semper fi and thank you very much. just go thank you for calling. honestly, i really cannot imagine what that must feel like to lose all of your friends, all of your brothers boat wine and decades later to have it not really be acknowledged by your country. one of the things i was looking at in my book, transfixed, is hunter gatherer societies are
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they better off coming back to the battlefield to their community than soldiers in a modern, mechanized industrialized mass society. as far as i can tell, they are. the community, the civilian community and the warriors are deeply intertwined. they come back to a society that is very, very cognizant not only of the importance of the site to what went on out there and the sort of divide between the warriors and the society is basically nonexistent. the analogous situation is inconceivable in a tribal society. i really can't imagine how that is odd entity or sub or he and i really hope you find some peace. >> host: from your book "tribe," veterans come home to find that although they are
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willing to die for their country, they are not sure how to live for it. unfortunately for the past decade, american soldiers have returned to a country that displays many indicators that those social resilience. resources are not shared equally. a quarter children live in poverty. jobs are hard to get. and the wages almost impossible to live on. instead of being able to work and contribute to society, a highly therapeutic thing to do you write large percentage of veterans are just offered lifelong disability and they except of course, why shouldn't they come a society that doesn't distinguish between degrees of trauma can't expect the warriors to either. >> guest: today's veterans are coming back to a fractured society. inc. about it, they risk their lives to fight for us and then they come back to find we are fighting with buyers loves. i mean not on every level.
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there is a political fight going on. political fights are contentious. they don't have to be ugly and this is ugly. there is a disparaging of the president, a mocking of the government. there is contempt for segments of the population. i can't imagine how dispiriting that is to soldiers who bought her this. the issue of ptsd is complicated because the nation is trying to do the right thing for people who fought hard for us, but also some pain were soldiers are allowed to sell what is called self diagnose a basically if you have ptsd, the doctors have to consent that you do and they believe -- psychologists believe that leads to an error rate of 50% in the diagnosis. and then you get disability.
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the thing about disability payment is yes, they allow you to get by, but they also marginalized people. people return to society by among other things, working. when you have disability papers you could live off of, you don't have to work and then you don't rejoin society and it winds up almost ghettoizing veterans in the subculture and there are real psychological consequences for that better known to be negative and i think that is one of the problems going on with this generation of veterans not transitioning. i found it an amazing painting by winslow homer. it was painted -- this is important. it was painted in the fall of 1865, a few months after the civil war ended. the harvest season after the civil war ended it shows a young man with a side in a wheat
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field, cutting weight. you realize this is a civil war veteran. a young man who mugged earlier with carrying a rifle in a came home to wherever he lived and he was immediately put to work and i'm sure his community come his family was like well done out there in the battlefields of the bayonet, what have you. we still need you. there is something enormously psychologically healthy about asking someone who is returning to society, asking them to continue serving and can give you engaging. don't go away. we can't get by without you. here's the side. get to work with asked. >> host: next call comes from maryland. go ahead.
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>> caller: how are you, sebastian? >> guest: and pretty good, how are you? >> caller: pretty well. i'm an english teacher and i tagged her book and i was listening to your interview, i heard some things that was though inspiring it's probably incredible people are even watching and listening. earlier i heard you talk about war reporting and watching some of the suffering even in those countries than with arrows oldsters. i was brought to mind the creative process when it talks about people who are allowed. he states perhaps the primary distinction of the artist, which you are obviously, he must cultivate the state, which most men and all men when the chips are down allowed is a banality frequently stated, but rarely only evidence believed. in hearing back, i heard a lot
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of that. i was wondering, really quick as an aspiring writer, what type of advice would you give. i've been struggling between my own experience and to put it in perspective so it can help a global perspective. i just didn't want it to be one-sided. imc your work. so, thanks. >> host: before we get an answer, tell us quickly what it was like to teach "the perfect storm." what was the reaction? >> guest: i chose to teach it because it was an actual event that occurred and this was the author's interpretation of what happened. they responded well. most students today like to see the real deal. they like to know if this really
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happening, is this real, not real? they were inspired by that and just how life can change in a moment. one of the biggest challenges as a teacher in high school as they are trying to convince kids there is a world outside of where you are and it moves really fast and things can change. i enjoyed the book. i did watch the movie, but the book was very good and i thought they responded well. >> guest: thank you. the writing process is a mystery. i'm just a journalist. i'm just a nonfiction writer. i gather my information about the world and i sit down with it. if we have writers block, all that means to me is that country section writer not enough research for information and i'm having trouble writing. if you have enough in her
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mission, the words can't come out fast enough. and the things that will affect the world are the things that affect you. if you are writing about something that is producing an emotional asked. , it is going to affect other people emotionally and that is going to change the world. if you are writing about something that is just not be listed in much of a reaction in you, other people will have the same response to it. your own relationship to your work is like a pretty good, if your object didn't come you have to be really honest and open an object is. if you are, it's a good indicator of what other people are going to want to read. >> host: were you familiar with '-backquote? >> guest: no, i wasn't actually. postcode e-mail from robert. you see the expansion of privatization in the military through contractors as a side of
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private power consuming public power. what do you think about the use of contract is in the military? >> i'm not an expert in this. my guess is the military is using private contractors because it's cheaper, and even though the contractors are paid more than a soldier with d. there are lifelong benefits come the g.i. bill, all those sorts of things get financial burdens the country carries for the rest of the life of the soldier. so of course they don't have that obligation with contractors. in the long run, with the military is doing is trying to save money by hiring out some of these jobs. is that a good idea or not? i don't know. that's a national conversation. i'm out of my depth on that one. >> host: from san francisco,
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mr. junger, do you think the suburbanite economy grew up with contribute to the so-called throwaway culture? >> guest: i am guessing here. i think they are all part of the same phenomenon. i mean, there is a feeling in this individualized society that as my father -- as my father protested come you don't owe your country nothing. there is a feeling that maybe you actually don't owe anything. maybe you can monitor and it doesn't matter. nothing matters except your own personal concerns. if you live in a travel society, it is quite clear your life is not entirely your own. you owe your life to your community because your survival would be impossible without that community. in an affluent suburban society, modern society, it is possible to think that you don't know your survival to anybody else.
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it's a complete illusion on one that leaves us feeling alienated and alone and depressed and anxious. in fact connected to the throwaway culture because it's not your world that you're walking around in, it's someone else's problem. postcode showed, salem, massachusetts. murder beaumont was incredible. why do you think relatives of bessie goldberg did not, do not acknowledge the possibility that albert desalvo committed this crime? >> guest: murder obviously is incredibly agonizing personal, painful and and i don't expect the family of an effect than to be open-minded and active about other possibilities. there was a conviction in the case, a conviction that had a lot of doubt at the time and the more i looked in to it, the more it seemed legitimate.
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i was incapable of proving anything one way or the other and i was very careful in my book not to come to conclusions. only dna with her one way or another who killed classical bird. obviously that's not available so i refrain from -- judgment. host over people who don't know where talking about the boston strangler. >> guest: just briefly, later confessing to the boston strangler was a carpenter and he worked for my parents had a six -month-old in belmont. i'm older woman, bessie goldberg was sexually assaulted, strangled, classic boston strangling about a mile away in belmont and the father was alone in our house all day that day and after he was caught a few years later, it occurred to my mother when she found out that
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he had been in our home for six and he could have traveled across town and kill bessie goldberg. it occurred to her that this black handyman who had been cleaning that day, maybe he was innocent. totally circumstantial case of coors. it is that possibility ballot? i couldn't prove it one way or another. i completely understand the heated emotion and the absolute certainty that the goldberg family had about that conviction. >> host: winnetka, illinois. go ahead with your question. >> guest: i have a lot to say. here is what i want to say to you. i've been listening to other people talking to you and i can't tell you enough that you are a very strong person. i may be six -- at 86 years old.
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i've been doing psychotherapy in my own practice for 55 years and i have set up in our logical issues that confront you. i was a veteran of the korean war. i didn't serve in combat, but here is what i have found 55 years. the diagnosis of ptsd is 100% correct. what they have found in the research that i have heard and read is at the same time the diagnosis of ptsd, there is another brain issue that is similar, just like the doctors have two decide whether or not the person has a kidney infection or attach no objection. i would say send them to you about my research. i spend 1,350,000 hours of psychotherapy i've never had to call my insurance company. i work with people for 40 years. some of them have what is called
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the pmi environmental medical issue, which is also an immune disorder. i respect you highly, but here is what the research has shown. that when they do a scan, and they do not buy another brain issues that are renewed. when they do say studies, which is when they do scans of people who they had skinned alive and they do studies, they find there is another issue. the issue is there's other brain activities, which resolves around the lack of connection early in childhood. there was the man who went down -- >> host: howard, i apologize. before we get too deep into this topic, let here for a sebastian
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junger and see if he has a response. >> thank you. i'm not a psychologist. i'm a journalist. i assembled as much data as i could. one of the things that you said really resonated. statistically, one of the predictors of long-term ptsd and almost 100% of people have short-term ptsd or major vatican and. want your ptsd is not. one of the predictors of who will get the term ptsd or major vatican's event is trauma in childhood. particularly, lack of human connection, abuse, violent abuse, so what you say at the end absolutely resonates with in terms of predicting trauma. >> guest: this is a text message from alan and fort pearce, florida. are you familiar with the work of bowling alone in other books. much of what you talk about
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reminds me of what putnam says about the decline of the sense of community. >> i haven't read that book and i've heard about it from a number of people obviously i'm looking forward to reading it. were talking about very related things for sure. >> guest: larry, kansas city, missouri. >> guest: great program. let me start off with and a decorated combat vietnam veteran. two purple hearts, a bronze star. one of the comments made of a woman he interviewed said he missed the work. i didn't understand that. did you have to have a word to feel a closeness for any kind of nourishment or whatever. it just puzzles me. looking at the world today with all these wars going on as vicious as they are, particularly in syria, it's unbelievable to hear that somebody misses a war.
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it makes no sense to me. it is crazy. it isn't a period can you explain that to me? >> guest: yeah, listen, i agree with you. my book is about trying to understand that. this woman was not in vain. the people in london were not in vain. but they were talking about of course they didn't miss the carnage. in sarajevo, a modern army is the people for target this for three years then they killed one fist, killed and wounded one fifth of the population of the city. what my friend was talking about was exactly that horror show that forced people to stop competing individualized life in an together. they literally sat shoulder to shoulder in the basement. they planted her hands together. they did everything together. they lived for one another and
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the war ended and thank god we leave our individual lives and we are not as generous. we are not a selfless. we don't participate in the community, in the groove. she pointed to some graffiti that she had seen in bosnia, that were better when they were bad. at the end, she said for people to commit something as awful as were means the society we have us be very messed up and i think she's got a real point. >> host: from a shared lines, an irish psychologist, quote, when people are actively engaged in a cause, their lives have more purpose resulting improvement in mental health. this was in 1979. it would be irresponsible to suggest means of improving mental health, but the belfast
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findings suggest that people will feel better psychologically if they have more involvement with their community. >> guest: his study was amazing. he said it meant solve the northern ireland during 1969, 1970 during a time of great turmoil in northern ireland. he found the districts that have the most violent, saw the most improvement in mental health across the population. he found that the most violence was correlated with the lowest levels of depression in both men and women and that the only district they saw depression go up with the county derry, i believe it was, that saw no violence at all. basically saying no one is going to recommend for the way of treating mental health issues,
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but it does say something interesting about the wiring we have is human, that a crisis generates the feeling that they are necessary, but their community needs them to call the action. they are living for a greater purpose. that actually buffers people against psychological demons as one official said in london during the blitz. he said we have chronic erratics of peacetime now driving ambulance to. it's really interesting way of looking at it. >> host: this is bobby, texting him. good day to both of you. on the naval veteran of desert storm honorably discharged and 92. i still have very vivid dreams of my service. names of the faces and the situations are so clear to me that i have problems recalling what i did yesterday.
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my memories will never let me forget the significant of belonging that i felt during my service. >> guest: he was in the navy. sounds like he may not have even been directly and calm that. the experience of being in a group, and an urgent tradition is really intoxicating to people. only 10% of u.s. military actually fires their god and animate they can be. only 10% are getting shot at. a much higher percentage have real difficulty transitioning home. again, maybe not a trauma problem. it may be the difficulty of going from a closed group to an individualized society where everyone is in their air-conditioned room and wondering if they are happy, safe, if this is what they want to be doing. >> host: laura in oklahoma city. as a nurse who worked in the
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critical care setting for many years, i believe i experienced a moderate depression and sense of self purpose when i left my job for less acute setting, even though i am still a nurse in, what i do now seems lame. what is the difference in the situation it would have gone through. >> this woman is laura. expressing some thing that's pretty typical. i have heard this since i wrote a book and have been engaging with the public, people say not when they were doing jobs that require collective action, those jobs are very hard to leave. i talked to a young woman who it can't hurt. she said during those terrible days when she was fighting her cancer, her family, community, friend gathered around her and supported her and loved her. she said, you know, i survived.
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i beat the odds. i survived. and now i miss being sick. there's something missing. i heard that in many different forms, all kinds of different jobs. it's very hard to give up that group endeavor and go back to individual lives. as great as independents is, it's is, it's hard to give that up. >> host: you are watching tv on c-span2. this is our "in depth" programmer would talk about the body of work. this month is author and filmmaker and journalist, sebastian junger, author of five books, death in belmont, the perfect storm, fire, war, and his most recent book is called "tribe." we've got an hour and 15 minutes
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left in our program today. the phone numbers in case you'd like to die away, (202)748-8200 in the eastern central time zone. 748-8201 and a not one and the mountain and pacific time zone and if you want to text in a message, please include your first name in your city so we know where you are coming from. (202)838-6251 is the number were you to text in. and finally, you can reach us on facebook and twitter and e-mail as well, as our e-mail address. we have talked about your documentaries. we want to show her viewers the trailer for "restrepo." ♪ >> i've been idly on the fhm
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about it, it can see the picture in my head. [inaudible] >> we are not ready for this. >> first boss -- [inaudible] went "restrepo" died reshot off flares. >> guest: as they realized they could not knock off. we had the upper hand. it takes a little bit out of you every time you see one of your voice get hurt. it's like a big family. >> guest: i want you guys to get over it and do your job.
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>> i don't like the way it is. i don't like the way it feels right now. >> i need to know better so i'm not killing these people. >> you can't see what is coming at you. >> i have no idea. i haven't figured out how to deal with it inside. eventually i will be able to process it differently. i do want to not have that as a memory because that is what moment and make me appreciate everything i have.
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>> host: sebastian junger, you told us you are currently reading letters of seneca appeared what is that? >> guest: seneca was a writer and philosopher or her in ancient greece and he was one of the stoics. i was just sort of intrigued -- i was intrigued by his philosophy and stoicism in general. i'm hardly an expert, but the stoics had a belief in removing your personal needs from your decision-making and absolute belief in rationality and that
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they felt that the path to god was through the use of human reason, that someone who is using their emotions, was compared to a person who is running downhill and couldn't control their lands and their rationality with similar purpose will come you don't want to be sprinting downhill out of control with your emotions. you want to be careful and deliberate using a rational mind to calm to rational conclusions. my father was a physicist and i was raised by my mother as an artist. i was raised -- and an atheist. i didn't go to church when i was a kid. my father as a physicist, explain to me the power of rational thought and i just screw up sort of thinking that way. >> host: you had a physicist and an artist. isn't there again and yang pair?
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>> guest: there is. my father seemed to win all the arguments, so it's clear to me which way i was going to go. >> host: why are you an atheist? >> guest: i suppose you could say as an historical matter because i was brought up in a religious family. the reason i think i am an atheist is because i haven't encountered a sort of tangible reason to believe in god. i would love it if there is a god. i just haven't encountered a reason to believe in god. >> host: would he think of the phrase there are not eight years? >> guest: i know empirically that is not true. it also makes me wonder as an atheist, and makes me wonder what a religious person would imagine god would be having to deal with any situation where his creations are trying to kill
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each other. if there were a god, this is exactly the kind of situation where he would say you guys can figure it out for yourselves. >> guest: the actual e-mail you notice i'm currently reading the letters of seneca as part of a sudden infatuation with the greek stoics. >> guest: you know, what i've read about them and again it hasn't been much. i'm at the beginning of my quest. it reminded me of myself when i was a kid. i was a long-distance runner. i felt a real imperative to reduce my dependence on physical comfort, physical need. i wanted to be able to fall asleep. when i was hungry and wanted to run all day and all night. i wanted to be able to do
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anything. and i worked very hard and i got close. >> host: in your book, "tribe" coming attack about children's bed times. why? children sleep habits. >> guest: we are a socialist pcs and throughout most of human history and still today throughout most of the world, people sleeping groups, x ended families, called cosleeping. children, young children, and in sleep among the adults in nondescript they get their sense of safety front, their protection. an infant is very vulnerable and in a lot of danger if it is alone in the wild. it is a predator's launch immediately. young children do not like to be alone. they are terrified. northern european society, and i include america is not is really
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the only society other in human history to force young children teased late by themselves in a dark room. all of our primate wiring is alarmed by that and that's one of the reasons children have a hard time on me. >> host: sebastian junger is our guest. james is in eagle grove, iowa. please go ahead. >> caller: yes, can you hear me. i recently traveled to the balkans to help bring about a better understanding between americans and people in the balkan region related to the war over there. one of the things we talked to us about is they did not miss a word. we went in travel to sites that have bottomed out in yugoslavia.
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it was last there is a memorial to the people who died, the day did not feel any nice feelings related to the war. in fact, there was some animosity to the u.s. being involved in the nato bombings. we were there to help revamp our better relations and we did do that. they embraced us. we embraced them. we studied history and culture of what had gone upon the balkan come at a periodic incursions the roman empire into the balkans and it was an area that had been really divided and have lots of wars. i don't think everybody over there feels that way, yeah the people are coming about and they are building a new way of life
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despite the wars. they still have goblins with the fact that places like bosnia and no longer to yugoslavia because they could trace back that they had been there long before other people had come into that region. it is still a divided area and we as people in the united states need to embrace those people and help them through the situation. >> host: >> guest: the serbian state for years ran 150,000 of. belgrade experienced a very short, targeted on campaign when they refused to withdraw their armed forces from kosovo who themselves were committing atrocities. belgrade fortunately for the people in belgrade were not forced into a siege mentality
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for civilians had to band together to survive. that happened in sarajevo. one fifth of the population was killed or wounded. i am absolutely sure that people in belgrade do not miss getting bombed a nato forces, but that it's a very different situation in bosnia. >> host: when you picture this theory a vote, when you see it? just goes the modern city had been hammered with mortar and tank rounds per year by the time i got there. shrapnel scars and all the buildings. no class left. it looks like a futuristic post-jake city. at night it was completely dark. it was a very strange thing to walk through a modern city at
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night and not have any stars and just hear dogs barking. it is very, very strange. at one point during the day, you see people driving firewood down the street. you see odd things like that. people growing vegetables in median strips of the highways. you see women carrying jugs of water. there is nothing. at one point i was in the courtyard of a sort of modern high rise. it was a man and a suit who worked in the high-rise, even though the war has heard of affected a lot of things, people were still trying to work. he was in a suit and he was crouched on the ground. once he got the fire in the courtyard, it was modern
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building. he was building a fire in the courtyard and it was copyrighted. you got the fire going up at a coffee pot on top of the fire and boil some copy for himself. if there's an image of the, the post-apocalyptic world, it is a man in a suit cooking coffee on a wood fire. what is that? it was a profound moment. >> host: have you been back? >> guest: last summer we talked about her nostalgia about the word. as a 17-year-old girl, she was almost killed. she caught a hunk of metal in her leg. her father. her through the shelley night to the hospital. the doctor managed to save her leg that he had to operate on her without an geisha. everyone suffered. and even she had a 17-year-old girl from those terrible days,
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that's the weird thing. we all missed it because we're better people back then. we lived for others. but it must ourselves. >> host: what is the city look like? >> guest: it's been rebuilt. you can still see sarajevo roses. a mortar hit the pavement is a very particular sort of signature on the ground. indeed it looks a little bit like a rose. everywhere you see that sort of splatter pattern of shrapnel coming off the pavement and from the detonation, some probably died there. every time you see one, -- >> guest: i want to go back to his feet had to say about resolution. yes, we had a definitive resolution that world war ii, but otherwise, have we really have definitive resolution and
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you can make a difference? >> guest: the revolution, the war of 1812, civil war, but pulled out of vietnam. was it resolved? i don't know. likewise, we pulled out of iraq, afghanistan. i didn't cover iraq occurred to you like it could be days. i was in a post. i lived in new york and assertive strategic and moral political rationale are going and getting the guys that do that to us sort of a. i mean, i understood it. i understood the rationale. the war was horribly handled. stakes were made. when we marched off to a non-necessary war in iraq, we pretty much sealed the fate of the guinness jam. we couldn't fight two wars like that simultaneously. but i did cover afghanistan and
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we kill bin laden. we decimated al qaeda. i was in afghanistan in the 90s. i saw what was going on in afghanistan post-soviet withdraw, the terrible civil war that was happening there. talk about the postapocalypse world. ..
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i was in northern afghanistan in 0 with massoud who was the leader of the northern alliance, the last force remaining that was fighting the taliban that had started taking over in '94, '95 in afghanistan. and, i mean, he was very courageous, brilliant military strategist, and i think quite a principled leader. and he was killed two days before 9/11 as part of the 9/11 attacks. and i had spent two months with him, and i was, you know, i was very -- i mean, i was devastated when i found out he'd been killed. i didn't realize what it was part of. and then 9/11 happened and then, you know, then i i really understood, like, my god, things are bad. bad things are happening. i was on assignment, actually, when that happened.
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i was in the country of moldova in eastern europe, the poorest country in europe. and i got back as soon as i could. it took about a week. i got back to my port city, you know, new york, and it smelled of smoke and people still walking around, basically, in shock. >> host: next call comes from east norwich, new york. go ahead. >> caller: what a surprise. i'm a fan of the perfect storm, and i quote it a lot to people. i love the part about we cleaned up the seas, took the oil off and that, therefore, we're having worse hurricanes. you said something like the water, yes, you're remembering it, the water just races across. on the other hand, the new book sounds wonderful, "tribe." i worked for 30 years for a local newspaper, and that was my tribe. we all worked together with common goals. and now retired, i am creating a
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few tribe for myself -- a new tribe for myself, joining local groups and working for them. i do have a question though. one thing puerto rican friends said in relationship to america's being criticized, it's really the spanish way of saying it that sounds nicer. what it means is people only throw stones at trees that bear fruit. and then for my question, it appears to me that the candidates who are saying disreputable things about what we've been doing, i think it's really a reaction from our having to have, be so politically correct. i think that's manager you might enjoy -- something you might enjoy talking about, how we're responding to the need to be politically correct in everything we do. and thank you for speaking to me. my pleasure. >> guest: well, like -- well,
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thank you, dagmar, and i think your instinct to join groups and serve your community not only is it noble, but it'll make you happier. i mean, you know, political correctness is one of those phrases that's not very helpful. it started out as an attempt to rhetorically respect the dignity and the rights of all people. and like all good things, is prone to excess. and it's wound up being a kind of tyrannical tool for, a tyrannical tool for suppressing open and honest debate in society. and so when you say "politically correct," you're talking about the second part of it, but what you don't want to do is get rid of the first part of it which is a respect for all people and to make sure that the way you talk
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about people doesn't denigrate them and dismiss their concerns and their rights. so we just have to be careful when we talk dismissively about being politically correct. i get it, it annoys me too. but, god forbid, we lose the initial impulse that gave rise to this. >> host: e-mail from sebastian yunger to booktv: i never studied english or creative writing in college, but i read an enormous amount. i read a lot of history and anthropology as a kid, and then i started in on adult fiction. i devoured ma thighson, hemingway as well. i also learned about journalism and nonfiction by reading the masterful john mcfee as well as joan didion. later in my life i was much affected by poet ted hughes and novelist cormick mccarthy. what's the connection between
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all those people? >> guest: well, they're all amazing writers. i think they're amazing writers. >> host: what does that mean, to be an amazing writer? >> guest: well, they have a profound understanding of the sort of musical quality of english, of how to put rhythm into a sentence, of how to use vocabulary in origin always, of how to be clean and efficient and direct, how to get out of their own way and not use the writing to draw attention to themselves to be a kind of transparent lens through which the reader can see the world. all of those things. they were amazing. peter matheson, fields of the lord, just this incredible novel takes place in brazil among -- and the indians which i believe are a fictional name for the -- [inaudible] on a boat in the caribbean in the '70s. i mean, just amazing, amazing words.
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peter matheson just died, and it was a real loss to the nation. >> host: it's been 20 years since you turned in the manuscript of "the perfect storm." when's the last time you picked it up and read it? >> guest: it's been 20 years almost to the day. [laughter] actually. oh, my god, when was the last time i read it, 19 years ago? i don't know. maybe i read it after it was published. i can't remember. i probably did. i can't remember. >> host: why? i mean, why haven't you picked it back up to go through it? >> guest: i mean, once in a while i'll sort of thumb through some of my past work just to see if, see if i still feel like it's any good or, you know, i don't know, it doesn't interest me. i mean, i was very interested when i was writing it, and i was delighted that other people were interested in it. and then it came out, and i moved on, and now i'm in the middle of thinking about "tribe," you know? that's my sort of central intellectual pursuit.
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but a time's going to come when that's behind me. and i -- we all hope, authors all hope that their books, you know, like their children, will continue to, continue on in the world and affect people, you know, whatever. [laughter] but if you're not, if you're not moving forward, you know, we're like sharks. if we're not moving forward, we die. and i'm going to move forward into something else. >> host: how many drafts did "tribe" go through? >> guest: oh, i -- >> host: and what is a draft? >> guest: what's a draft, yeah. as i write, i continually re-edit as i write. for me, a draft is when you decide to use 100 pages' worth of what used to be trees in a forest -- [laughter] to print out your manuscript in your printer. and then you sit and read it with a red pen, and you mark all the self-indulgent stuff and the inefficient prose and the
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wordiness and the faulty logic and whatever. you mark everything, and you go back to work on it. and i probably did that twice. and then, yeah, then there's the small revisions after copy editing. >> host: do you save those drafts? are they gone? >> guest: i think i saved the draft that i turned into my editor. i think it's in a box somewhere, yeah. yeah, for sure. i mean, i'm not a very sentimental person. [laughter] >> host: bob's in overland park, kansas. hi, bob. >> caller: hi, peter, great to talk to you. sebastian, i'm a tremendous fan of yours. i think your work is really profoundly insightful. i'm really interested in a couple books i've been reading recently, and they're by the works by samuel huntington on the clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order.
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and also he has another book, who are we, which is, deals with america's national identity. after your explanations of the tribe and your perspectives having been in so many parts of the world where these friction points have been, i'm really interested in your insights and comments about that. >> guest: thank you very much. i haven't read those books. i've heard about them. my book "tribe" really, it's about modern post-industrial society broadly. it's not just america. and it's about why, it's about our sort of human preference for community and what the consequences are when we lose that. and so it really isn't just america. i think the clash of civilizations was referring to america. i may be wrong, i haven't read
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it. but at any rate, we, you know, as humans like we now very recently in our history organize ourselves not so much in neighborhoods, not so much in tribes, but in nations. and the trick is how do you keep 320 million people which is, i think, the population of this country, how do you keep that many people sort of -- even though they're politically in conflict, they're economically stratified, socially stratified, how do you keep them sort of unified by a shared ethos and a common goal, a common sense of purpose? i mean, the bigger the group the harder it is to do that. and doing that with 320 million people has never been attempted before in human history. and, you know, we're inventing, you know, we're going by the seat of our pants. we're inventing it as we go. at the sort of micro end, we don't really live in neighborhoods where we're dependent on one another anymore. i mean, we don't live in communities where we're
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dependent on one another for our basic needs, our food, shelter, safety. and at macro end, there seems to be a kind of fracturing of our nation along ideological lines, along economic lines, social lines. that doesn't need to happen. we're not going to, we're not going to dismantle society and all live in tightly bundled communities and lean-tos, i know that's not going to happen. nobody's asking for it to happen. but i don't think we need to be fractured the way we are at the micro level. i think when politicians, when very powerful people speak with real contempt and derision about, for example, our president, our government, segments of the population, you're really undermining the idea that we're all part of something shared, that we all have a common investment in our country. it's a very, very dangerous thing to do. not that we don't have disagreements. we should argue. democracy thrives on argument. it's great. that's not what i'm talking about.
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i'm talking about contempt. when i was with soldiers in afghanistan, as much as they might have had problems with each other, no one talked with contempt about someone inside the wire that they might depend on for their own survival. and that's what's happening in this country. i think it's extremely dangerous, and i'm not just talking about you know who, i'm talking about both 34reu9 call parties. we've got to stop it. >> host: from your book "tribe," you write: politicians occasionally accuse rivals of deliberately trying to harm their own country, a charge so disruptive to group unity that most past societies would probably have just punished it as a form of treason. >> guest: yeah. i mean, i understand that it galvanizes your base to demonize the opposing political party and its leaders. i get it. but what you're doing is you're trading support among your base for -- you're trading the unity of the country for an increasing
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support in your base. you're basically creating a tribe within our nation that does not see its interests as overlapping with the interests of the nation and of all people in this nation. and when you do that, you start fracturing the country. and that really, in my opinion, that kind of rhetoric is extremely dangerous. it's like when couples' counselors tell married couples who are struggling have all the fights you want, just do not talk about divorce. do not use the word "divorce." you can fight, whatever. fight fairly but with respect. and i feel like right now when you start accusing the president of not actually being an american citizen or of somehow being, like, siding with our enemies, you're basically throwing around the word "divorce." and it's a deeply undemocratic thing to do, and it's more of a threat to our democracy than, you know, isis or al-qaeda ever, ever will be. and, again, both sides do it in their different ways.
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the left does it as well. >> host: and this is a text message from area code 303, reminder to put your city and first name. i think that's detroit. i am just finishing your audio book of tribes. after seeing another interview with you, i am hoping you have or will send a copy of your book to hillary clinton and bernie sanders who i believe have tried their best given the constraints of a political campaign to keep the discussions of our differences civil. you really have rationally nailed the way we should disagree but without denigrating those we disagree with. next call for sebastian junger comes from just outside of washington d.c. go ahead, doc. >> guest: first of all, mr. junger, thanks so much for your incredible work. my wife and i are parents to three young men, one who was a marine with tours in helmand province. thanks for the insights and the work you've done, it's been helpful to us, our son and many other combat veterans as well.
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two quick questions. one, in the documentary one of the combat infantrymen who if i remember correctly was raised by hippie parents in california reflects on the things he had to do to others in combat. people say you just did your job, and he says when i meet my god, is he going to say you did your job? i don't think so. our son said almost precisely the same thing to us. so my first question is do you find a lot of veterans saying something similar to that? and second, we view your work in the tradition of historical reflections on war, seneca you pensioned, the warriors -- you mentioned, the warriors, what it's like to go to war. at the risk of making you laugh too hard, do you view your work in a historical context, or do you feel, hey, i've just found my calling? and i must say you're doing it
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in an incredibly passionate and wonderful way. >> guest: thank you, sir. i really appreciate that. i would never put myself this that company -- in that company. i mean, those are amazing writers, and if i'm seen that way by anyone, i'm really honored. i'm really trying to do my best to understand something that's confusing to the nation and confusing to me and confusing to the young men and women who are participating in it. and i hope that i'm making some sense. i'm glad your sons are back safely. two tours in helmand must have been quite something more your son. and, yeah, i'm glad he's okay. and thank you, thank you for seeing some help in my work, that it's incomed you in some help -- informed you in some helpful way. i'm really glad to hear. >> host: alan in topeka, kansas: did you meet any vets that were
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wired for opposite of tribe, like mountain men of old? i am a combat vet, and iraq felt like a prison experience. great work on your part. >> guest: well, you know, humans are -- we're weird, right? and there's all kinds. and there are absolutely people, individuals who do not want to be part of a group. i mean, you know, i have a very, very good, dear friend who grew up in a family of 14 siblings, and he just can't get far enough away from groups, you know? so, you know, it's, of course, everything happens. but what i was trying to understand is the very common human reaction to modern society which is elevated rates of suicide and depression and all that and, you know, why is that? we obviously have such bounty, you know? such safety, such stability, all the things humans supposedly want. why is it people remember the bad times with this notal. >> ya? why -- nostalgia? why is it they remember the
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blizzard, the hurricane in why is that in it's because we're enlisted by our community to help. it makes us feel good, and modern society has reduced the occasions where we have to pitch in, and there's a real loss this. >> host: do you ever get that feeling, do you ever get that isolated feeling being here in new york city? >> guest: i mean, new york is its own freak show, right? i mean, you're sort of surrounded by millions of people in this incredible human experiment in, you know, congestion. [laughter] congestion and population density, and yet you're anonymous person walking around. i think you can feel terribly, terribly alone in this city. i also have had the real experience of, like, real communal sentiment in, like, the neighborhood i live in. so it's sort of both. >> host: next call for sebastian junger comes from sharon in virginia beach, virginia. hi, sharon, go ahead. >> caller: hi. my question is if you had run
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into vets who, vietnam or otherwise, who had sort of a self-destruct mode, i guess you'd say. i'm a widow of a vietnam vet. he was a ranger. participated many what they call -- in what they called long range reconnaissance. he told me some stories you just don't hear every day, you don't even see in the movies, they're so horrible. he told me two stories that made me cry, one involved a buddy, another a little girl. he always said he did what he had to do, but i'm just wondering, i think he was suffering from ptsd for years. i think he had, like, a self-destruct mode. perhaps that was the way he handled it because he got sicker and sicker until he passed away in 2013. so i'm just wondering if you had run across that in combat veterans that you've talked to or any of the research that you
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have done for your books, which i definitely will read. that's my question. thank you, sir. >> guest: ma'am, thank you for calling in. i'm really sorry for the loss of your husband. what you call a self-destruct mode, i mean, people that have been traumatized by all kinds of trauma, it doesn't have to be combat, it could be sexual abuse as a child, violence, being exposed to violence as a child. i mean, people often turn -- people who have been traumatized often in turn traumatize themselves. i think that's -- i mean, again, i'm not a psychologist, but my understanding is that's a pretty common human reaction. and, you know, i haven't studied this, but i think i can see that kind of behavior in some of the vets that i know, particularly with substance abuse actually. and violence. i i mean, you know, a lot of the guys that i was with out in the corn gal, i mean, what did they
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do when they got back? they drank a lot and got in a lot of fights. that's a form of self-punishment. they were working something out. >> host: polly, napomo, california. >> caller: oh, it's holly. hi, sebastian. i've been following your stuff over years and enjoyed a lot of it, and since you wrote "the perfect storm," i was wondering if you would ever investigate, which we still need to designate el faro which sank in october of 2013 and your comments on that. >> host: thank you, holly. >> guest: yeah. i think el faro was a container ship that sank during a hurricane 2013, i think she broke in half and sank. i'm not sure. she sank very suddenly.
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no, i probably won't write about that. i tend not to go back to the same topic. >> host: joanne tweets in, doesn't isis fit the definition of tribe? >> guest: well, let's be careful here. in the sense that i mean it in the sort of anthropological sense, a tribe is a group of people that are dependent on each other for their sustenance or their safety, for the sort of web of symbolic meanings that identify them as a group apart from others. and so it's an easy word to throw around. i think there are, i think there probably is a tribal appeal for people that join isis. they want to be part of something bigger. they want to transcend themselves. they see a kind of unity in what isis is trying to do. for sure. i mean, humans haven't changed
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much. and if isis is appealing in sort of unexpected, weird ways to middle class european kids and they're running off to, like, join isis, if that's true, we have to wonder what they're offering and what they're, what middle class european society is not providing. but isis is also a political group. it's part of a monotheistic religion. it's a lot of other things as well, and we have to understand it in all those terms. >> host: because you write about what you write about, do people misconceive or misinterpret your opinion about war, about the purpose of war? >> guest: well, i think sometimes people misconceive what journalism is. i mean, as a journalist, i don't have public opinions. i don't say i think we should do this, or i think soldiers are --
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like, i'm studying something and transferring what i feel like i've understood about another world, about sierra leone during the civil war or about american soldiers in combat or what have you, ptsd. i'm studying it in a neutral way without an agenda and transferring what i think i'm -- digesting it and transferring that to my readers. and so if there's something in my book, it's not me saying it, it's me repeating the opinions or the conclusions of other people that i've tried to assemble in a coherent fashion. and so if i'm pointing out, and this has happened a few times and it's always interesting to watch it happen, if i'm pointing out that people respond in positive ways to hardship and distress and danger of the sort that you find in war or on a swordfishing boat, for that matter, it's not me somehow
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saying war is good. it's me pointing out that humans are complex, and we react in surprising ways to difficult circumstances. and it has to be that way, or -- i mean, we're the product of evolution. if we didn't react well to bad situations, we wouldn't exist. we wouldn't have survived. so as an anthropologist, it's not surprising to me that the worse the situation, the better we react. but it is not, i mean, if you understand what journalism is, it is not, it is not me offering an opinion about war. >> host: sebastian junger, in your book, "war," almost a throwaway line you talked about the camel spiders, the scorpions and the malaria medication that you had to take and what that was like to deal with those three things. >> guest: yeah. i mean, the one thing i am most terrified of is i have had a phobia of spiders my entire life, since i was a little kid. i blame it on being forced to
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sleep alone in a dark bedroom. [laughter] i'm kidding. anyway, yeah, i have a terrible phobia of spiders. so one of the, very, very honestly one of the real psychological challenges for me in going to the chorin gal wasn't the gunfire. i'd been in combat for years. it was thinking about dealing with tran cue las. these camel spiders. that was a psychological thing for me. scorpions i don't really care. the malaria medication, i mean, it made everyone -- gave everyone a kind of psychosis. i mean, you had terrible, terrible nightmares. it actually -- ironically, the malaria medication you took every monday, ironically, the side effects are quite similar to symptoms of ptsd and trauma. and i think the military's phasing out the medication. i hope they are because, boy, it made people crazy. >> host: dave is in spokane
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valley, washington. dave, you're on booktv with sebastian junger. requesting hi. thanks, peter. great show. i mean, i love c-span. i just want to thank c-span for all you guys do. it helps further my education and helps me use my thinking brain which leads me to sebastian and what you do. all your work, your intellectual rigor, love listening to you talk and how honest you are about what you don't know and what you do know. but i really would like to see a guy like you help our leaders be better leaders and get us to a place where we can care for each other in a better way and do our society more good than divisiveness and, you know, get to the issues, the nut of the matter.
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and so hopefully, maybe you can -- your goals are going to be more about politics later and you can become a politician. i don't know, but i really respect what you do and love listening to you talk. >> host: all right, dave, thank you very much. let's hear from sebastian junger. >> guest: thank you, i'm very honored by what you said. i mean, i'm a journalist, and, you know, if i can affect our political leaders, if i can affect anybody, it's going to be through my books. and i hope they do. i mean, that's why, you know, i write to make my living, but i also write to affect the society i live in in positive ways. and, you know, if it does that, if hillary reads my book, if donald reads my book, i hope they both do. i hope they see some good in it. the central message at the end of my book, i mean, i start with the american indians. i move on to the blitz in london. i eventually talk about ptsd, and i wind up talking about the current state of affairs in sort of the political discourse of
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the moment in this country and the divided nature of our really wonderful society, it's really quite divided. i think across the board politically americans want us to be a unified country. i think we're literally scaring ourselves by the divisiveness of the political rhetoric recently. if my book somehow urges people towards seeing us all as part of a common goal even though we have arguments, nothing could thrill me more. and i hope something like that happens. >> host: why do you close "tribe" with the phrase, "i'm dead inside"? >> guest: well, i start "tribe" with this story about hitchhiking across the country and this incredible act that this homeless man in gillette, wyoming, did for me of giving me his lunch and sort of taking responsibility for me. and at the end of the book, i talk about a story that i read in a book by an anthropologist
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named christopher, and he was referring to yet another anthropologist who had done field work with the cree indians in canada. and this woman, this anthropologist was out with an november minute, can't remember his name, and they were out in the bush, the wilderness on a hunting and trapping expedition. and they ran across two people that they didn't know, two other cree. they didn't know them, and these two men were out of food. and this anthropologist said her companion gave them almost everything that they had, that he had. and she asked him about it afterwards. and she said, you know, you don't know these guys, it means you're going to have to cut your hunting trip short. why would you give them most of your food? and he said to not give them food, dead inside, it means you're dead inside. and i suddenly realized like that homeless guy in gillette, i mean, he was living down in a
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broken down car in gillette, wyoming, walking out three miles to a coal mine every day to see if they could use him for a shift. there was very little in his life that he had control over, but he could control whether he was dead inside or not. and in my mind, the one thing he refused to be was dead inside. and he saw a young man out on the highway, and he gave him his lunch because he was alive inside. it was one of the things he had control over, and he wasn't going to give that up. it was a very, very moving thing for me, and that's why in my book was that story about being dead inside. god forbid we all die inside. >> host: sylvia, indianapolis, indiana. text message. how do we find peaceful projects for restoring or maintaining human solidarity and community belonging? >> guest: well, that's a great question. i mean, humans evolved in an environment of great danger and stress and hardship, and those hardships included war, included
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organized violence between human groups. and that violence, those hardships engendered enormous social solidarity, right? i mean, clearly, we're the descendants of ancestors that figured out how to band together to survive, and we're wired for that because those are the ancestors that survived. they were able to do that. so how do we have -- she's asking how do we have it both ways? how do we retain the benefits of a peaceful, modern society but not lose the social connectedness that violence and hardship and suffering engendered in our past that wired us for? i don't know. i think national service. i think mandatory national service would go a long way, frankly. i'm not talking about the draft. the draft is a wartime measure that puts guns in people's hands and sends them off to war. you can be against that or not. i understand the argument either way.
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national service is a different thing. as my father said, we were talking earlier, you don't owe your country nothing. and if you ask a room full of people, and i've done this, what do you owe your country, everyone gives you a blank look because there's no ready answer. our nation does not provide a ready answer to that fundamental question, what do you owe your people? and national service would actually give young people -- national service with a military option, i think it's sort of a tragedy that there's no way to serve your country without carrying a gun. national service with a military option would allow force/allow young people to invest in their cup. i mean, invest -- in their country. invest from their own lives. we -- psychologists know that when you sacrifice for something, it rises in value. when you put a year or two of your life into your nation, you value your nation more. and that's a good feeling. it's good for the nation, it's good for us as individuals. and i think it actually could go
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a long way towards making this country -- despite the great economic and social, political divisions -- making this country feel like a united endeavor, like we have a common goal, a common ethos. >> host: did you ever consider joining the military? >> guest: not really. you know, i grew up during vietnam. the military -- at least in the society that i was, grew up in, was really discredited. sort of morally, politically discredited. and unfairly, i should add, you know? i had a very limited perspective on it. but that was the environment i grew up in. and there were really no existential threats to this country enwas a young man. this was the 1980s, 1990s. we had a couple of brief military engagements, panama, granada, the gulf war one lasted 100 hours. i think had 9/11 happened sort of on my watch, you know, when i was 22, i absolutely would have -- certainly given it very, very serious thought. i think i probably would have joined. i mean, it's a thought
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experiment. you know, obviously, i don't know for sure, but there were no good, you know, there were no good wars to fight when i was young. thank god. i'm very lucky that way. and so it's hard for me to imagine my life otherwise. >> host: david's in tulsa. david, go ahead with your question or comment for author sebastian junger. >> caller: hi. thank you for taking my call. i'm from oklahoma, and we know a thing or two about terrorist attacks from 1995. and i will confirm that when that attack occurred, oklahoma in my lifetime has never been closer. very, very republican state, welcomed president bill clinton in. he did amazing things for the state of oklahoma. as did our governor, frank keating. but many, many people just
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banded together to get through that attack which is kind of forgotten now with everything that happens. 168 deaths. my question to your guest is could such things happen in a positive sense such as a group getting together to fight poverty in a city such as habitat for humanity and building a home for the poor, or i've even seen some of it with athletic teams and the loyalty years later that somebody who would not show up for a 20-year school anniversary would show up for an anniversary of their athletic team. and i'll take the answer off the air. >> host: kind of talked about this earlier. >> guest: yeah. thank you for that. finish you know, our cities, i live in new york, you live in oklahoma city, our cities are united in this sort of tragic,
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tragic way that we both had catastrophic attacks upon us and that killed civilians, innocent people by the scores, by the hundreds, by thousands. and it does create this incredible unity. and, you know, can you get that in, as you said, in a positive way? i don't think, i don't think quite in the same way. i mean, humans are wired to survive really bad stuff, and when really good stuff happens, we don't kick into that kind of communal survival are mode. survival mode. that doesn't mean that we don't get good things out of positive efforts, and i think there is -- i think you can produce a kind of, some kind of group unity by organizing to do positive things. it's just not quite as profound as during, you know, the tornado, the hurricane, the war, whatever it may be, the attack. that's just how we're wired. i don't think it's the, i don't
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think it's the end of world, but it is sort of important to acknowledge it. you know, i should say that 9/11 happened during a republican administration, and new york is thoroughly democratic. and we welcomed president bush, a man i did not vote for, but we welcomed him with open arms. i think that's a really common -- and, frankly wonderful -- human reaction during crises. it really transcends those boundaries. i did some research into an earthquake in italy in 1915, and one survivor wrote about how 96% of population was killed in a minute. and the survivors huddled around, and for a few days it was this weird sort of post-apocket lippic utopia. there were no social classes, no rich, no poor, everyone banded together, totally egalitarian, and this one survivor wrote that the earthquake had produced what
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the law promises but cannot, in fact, deliver which is the equality of all men. i think there's a little bit of that in what you probably experienced and what we experienced here in new york. >> host: roger from san francisco texts in to you, mr. junger: you posit that modern alienation is caused by the fact that people don't live in platoon-sized groups. do you see an ideal number, dunbar's number of 150, for a tribe to maintain a shared group ethos? >> guest: well, i -- [laughter] this is a very well-informed questioner. i write about dunbar's number in my book "war," and it's an interesting phenomenon. he obviously is well informed. the group sizes that people throughout history and prehistory are likely to live in and still, are likely to function in are not randomly distributed. and there's, if you plot them as dunbar, a sociologist, did, you
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can see these sort of spikes. and the one speak where a very, very common human group is 10-12 individuals, basically an extended family. another very common human group is 30, 40, 50 people, basically a platoon. so you go squad, platoon and finally company is around 150-200 people, something like that. so dunbar discovered these sort of common human groupings, and we seem to be wired to respond well emotionally, psychologically to groups of that size. the guys that i was with in afghanistan, their battalion which was, i don't know, 600 people, they didn't have much personal identification with the battalion. they were in a battalion, but they didn't connect you. company, platoon, absolutely. their squad was, like, the core of their family with incredibly strong bonds within squads.
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>> host: larry is in seven trail ya, washington, and you're on booktv, larry. >> caller: yes. thanks for taking my call. mr. junger, i was too young to serve in world war ii but followed it daily, and i think if we look at the -- [inaudible] situation with those folks when there was existential war, every family you knew had a connection to the service or a gold star in the window. and today you've got, what, 1% of the people, and most of them don't even know a veteran. i was a corpsman, navy corpsman at the end of korea and dealt with plastic surgery in the burn units and also in the locked psychiatric wards and then ended up my last year and a half in the marine corps and saw the tennessee combat, saw the aftermath of combat. if there's no meaning to what
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you're doing, victor frankel who survived auschwitz said without meeting, you do not live. without meaning, you do not live. so i'd like to get your idea on that and also address the manufacturers of war materials. we never see them coming down the production line, but we see thousands and thousands of them in the battlefield. and they have to come from somewhere, so who profits from war? is that who's behind all of this? because we hadn't had a war worth fighting since world war ii, but we sure bought a lot of material. thank you very much. >> host: that's larry in centralia, washington. >> guest: thank you. there's a lot of complex ideas there. i'm not an expert about the financing of wars. my understanding is that the r&d that happens during peacetime is actually a lot more lucrative to arms manufacturers, boeing,
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places like that than the actual manufacturing of munitions. so i don't know if that's true. that's what i heard. it's sort of an interesting idea. bullets and bombs actually don't cost that much, and there's not much of a profit margin on them compared to the research and development that happens during times of peace. it's an interesting perspective. and, yeah, 1% serve, it's less than 1%, actually. that's true. it's a poignant number. i think it underscores that most of the country is not connected to the wars that we're fighting. you know, a war tax to pay for our wars as we fight them might be a good -- might connect people, might engage them politically. the iraq and afghan wars were basically put on a huge credit card. i understand politically why an administration might want to do that. but, obviously, as you're pointing out, it might be a bad idea. the problem with the 1% number is that if you change that, say
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we want to have 5% of the population fighting, that means a massive, massive army. and probably one we can't afford. i mean, keep in the mind you're not just paying salaries while people are fighting during the year or two or three or four, five years, whatever, but there are g. i. benefits, health benefits that continue on for the life of the serviceman or servicewoman. and the country just simply cannot afford to have a standing army that's that enormous. so, yeah, it's 1%, but there really isn't a financial alternative to that. we have to find other ways of making the public engage with the experience of the 1%. i don't think we can afford to do it otherwise. >> host: you write about weapons systems in your book, "war," and here's one thing you write: each javelin round costs $80,000. and the idea that it's fired by
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a guy who doesn't make that in a year at a guy who doesn't make that in a lifetime is somehow so outrageous, it almost makes the war seem winnable. >> guest: yeah. that's a particularly cynical sentence. i think i was having a cynical morning when i wrote that. yeah, you know, that wasn't me, you know, that wasn't me being, you know,en an antiwar activist, i was just pointing out this sort of irony. a very technology-heavy military that can focus a huge amount of firepower very, very accurately at a very specific area, but inevitably has a hard time engaging and affecting a broad society. and, of course, an insurgency, insurgency takes place within the society. and you're never going to win it with javelin missiles, however useful they may be in an actual fire fight. one of the -- i was in afghanistan in 1996.
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i was shot at by taliban gunners on the outshirt skirts of kabul in the summer of 1996 right before they swept in and took a kabul. jalalabad as well. and i remember one of the people that i was with, a young guy who was my sort of translator, fixer, young african guy, who was pashtun. he said i'm pashtun, and the taliban are mostly pashtun, and we hate the taliban. we're going to let them in because we are so tired of the corruption in the government of this society, and they promised to clean up corruption. the taliban rolled in, without much of a fight, because they were promising to clean up the corruption in this society. my dear friend, sarah shays, has written an amazing, an amazing book about the role of corruption in insurgencies and civil wars in which she found,
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what he found is that in the she babb in somalia and boca that rom in nigeria, isis, the taliban, the common theme in all of these religious insurgencies is the fight against corruption. and that's why they appeal to societies, as horrific and bloody as these movements are. and the irony, the irony when the u.s. went into afghanistan was that we didn't go with enough soldiers, and we paid our way. we paid off warlords so we didn't have to fight them. we wound up even paying taliban commanders, paying them money so we wouldn't have to fight them. in the eyes of the afghan people, we just looked like another corrupt empire. and so that's what i mean, like, you're not going to -- if you're making that kind of massive mistake, you're not going to undo it with a javelin missile. >> host: and booktv has covered sarah chayes' book. if you go to, you can. watch -- you can watch that
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presentation online. just type in her or name in the search function, and you can watch it online at your convenience. >> guest: i should say that zaire and i grew up together. i met her when i was 4. we're virtually brother or and sister. we used to go camping together when we were kids. we're like, we're absolutely family. she's an amazing, amazing woman. >> host: roberto, houston. please go ahead. >> caller: yes. peter and sebastian, i'm a retired history teacher, and i'm having a problem with this discussion and any other similar discussion which centers around, gee, isn't war horrible. throughout human history you find man is a war-making creature. now, it's over, technically, over limited resources. but whether you go to ireland before it was invaded by england when it was by itself, there were tribes in ireland, they fought each other. go to world war i. the war to end all wars.
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war was outlawed even. internationally. we still have war. so it's, it's like don't want to say it's in our dna, but that's what we are. so can we get past this isn't war horrible and go on beyond that? one more thing. concerning nice, since, sebastian -- new york city, since, sebastian, you're from new york city. i've been to new york city. and i really believe that 9/11 was horrible. but it did make new yorkers more humane to each other and, by the way, to the rest of the united states also. so silver lining, i don't know if that's the expression. one last thing concerning fighting over resources, and that has to do with the united states today. we are 5% of the world population, we consume 25% of the resources. are we really, are we ready to
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lower our standards to share with the world the resources within the world? thank you. >> host: all right, roberto, a lot on the table there. >> guest: yeah. i mean, actually, i mean, there was nothing in this conversation that -- i don't know when you tuned in, but there was nothing in this conversation that was counter to your original assertion. i mean, war is horrible. that that's self-evident. my book is about the strangely positive emotional consequences of being in a wartime situation or in a natural disaster or any other kind of crisis for society. you know, as far as humanizing people in new york city, if i can defend my city for a moment, you're actually completely wrong. the suicide rate went down in new york city after 9/11. the violent crime rate went down in new york city. it wasn't a permanent effect,
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but it was very, very noticeable statistically. people treated each other better in the city for a while after that terrible tragedy. it's a very common human reaction to hardship. >> host: in the book "war," mr. junger, you write that war is so obviously evil and wrong that the idea that there could be anything good to it almost feels like a profanity. and yet throughout history men find themselves desperately missing what should have been the worst experience of their lives. were you surprised at that finding? >> guest: i was surprised at the depth of it. i mean, i expected that -- i mean, these are young men that i was with. they clearly, they'd all were, you know, boys who played war when they were young. they'd clearly grown up wanting to be soldiers, wanting to experience combat. they were pretty macho guys. and i anticipated that they
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would be, that the component of combat which is sort of adrenalized and thrilling, that they would respond to that and maybe miss it. what i was not prepared for was the effect, the really profound effect of human connection on those guys and on me. and i started to realize afterwards what they really missed was each other and being necessary to each other and being part of that group. the sort of video game component of the combat, yeah, i got it. but i felt like that was quite a shallow, surface part of the reaction and the much more profound reaction had to do with, frankly, with love actually. i mean, this really intense connection between each other that i was actually to some degree part of as well and experienced the loss of later. >> host: in "tribe," it's easy for people in modern society to row romanticize indian life, and it might well have been easy for men like george as well.
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that impulse should be guarded against as well. virtually all of the indian tribes waged war against their neighbors and practiced deeply sickening forms of torture. prisoners who weren't tom ma hawked on -- tom hawked on the spot could expect to be dis'em bowelled and tied to a tree or blistered to death over a slow fire or simply hacked to pieces and fed alive to the dogs. what is it about the human being that war has been part of our lives since day one? >> guest: yeah. i mean, i should say that i go on in that same paragraph to point out that the spanish inquisition was doing exactly the same thing and, you know, the governments of europe in the middle ages and even during the enlightenment were practicing just as horrific forms of torture. so just to be even-handed here. anything that's, any behavior that's as widespread as war,al true women -- altruism, for
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example, generosity, anything that that's widespread has to be assumed to be adaptive to have a survival value. so aggression, war, competing for resources, it wouldn't exist if it didn't have some adaptive survival value for the people that practice it. i think it reveals the harsh conditions of, that our species evolved in. and if a quiet, pacifist society is going to be pushed out of, pushed out of areas of food supply and will starve. and, i mean, the bully -- i mean, the proverbial bully that takes your lunch money, right? like that's, that is our human evolution, and you can even see that behavior in other primates, chimpanzees, for example. my friend richard at harvard, a really well known primetologist who also may have been on your show here, i'm not sure, he has
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documented troupes of chimpanzees where males will go off on these raids, and they'll literally attack males from a rival group and beat them and tear them to pieces one by one, and once they've gotten rid of all the males, they will take over the food resources of that area, take over the females, they'll kill the young, and they've now doubled the size of their troupe. and it's absolutely adaptive behavior, and chimpanzees today are the descendants of chimpanzees that have done that for hundreds of thousands of years. likewise, humans. >> host: this is from david in manchester, connecticut. i was moved by the film you made, restreppo. very upset when tim weatherington was killed. can you console me? can you console us about good people dying young? >> guest: i think i probably can't console you. it's one of the, it's one of the
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unanswerable things about life, that good people die young, and tim was a good person, and his death was, left a huge, huge hole in me. you know, we all go through some version of that. you know, i wish i had something to say that would make him feel better, because it would make me feel better too, and, you know, unfortunately, i don't think it's there. >> host: steve in madison, maine, we have one minute. >> caller: yeah. mr. junger, i admire your intellect. a question in the past i've asked and spoken with jimmy carter and alexander coburn and others, i wonder what your comment would be. if we had not sent one boy, bullet or bomb to vietnam, what do you think in that part of the world the geopolitical fallout would have been? >> guest: oh, boy. i was born in 1962, i didn't want become a journalist until about 1990. i'm not an expert on vietnam.
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i really don't know. i, my good friend carl marlantes, wonderful writer, what a book called what it's like to go to war. very proud marine. he'll talk to you all day long about the mistakes that were made in vietnam. and if i'm understanding him right, he also said, you know, it was a dangerous time, and had we not, had we not had some presence in asia, that the soviet union actually would have done some real harm in the world. personally, i have no idea. but that's my memory of carl's position, and he's a pretty smart guy, and so i, you know, i would actually have you read other people that know more than i do. >> host: sebastian junger, his writing process as a journalist, gather all the information about a topic that is possible, then read through all the notes, underline what is interesting and then make lists of
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everything underlined and assemble a structure to the story. you say you do your best writing when something is due, and usually if you have writer's block, it means he has not collected enough information. not that he cannot find the words, and you don't try to fill in the gaps with more words. sebastian junger has been our guest for the last three hours on "in depth." "a murder in belmont" was his first book. "the perfect storm," his second. then came "fire." "war," and his most recent is "tribe." this is booktv on c-span2.
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