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American Veterans on War
Personal Stories from WWII to Afghanistan
Elise Forbes Tripp

published 2012 • 6" x 9" • 460 pages • b&w photos
ISBN 9781566568678 • paperback • $22.00

" 'American Veterans' on War is a gem."
—Senator George McGovern, B-24 Liberator pilot with 35 missions over Europe, who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving his crew in an emergency landing.  From South Dakota, he was the 1972  Democratic presidential candidate.


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The United States is embroiled in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—wars that seem as far from Americans’ understanding as they are distant from our shores.

With American Veterans on War, Elise Forbes Tripp brings our current wars and their predecessors home in the words of 55 veterans aged 20 to 90. The veterans raise questions about when wars are worth fighting, what missions can and can’t be won, and the costs and benefits of US intervention, both around the world and domestically. Recent veterans tell wrenching stories of coping with hostile forces without uniforms, of not knowing who is friend or foe, and of the lasting traces of combat once they’ve returned home.

American Veterans on War provides a sweeping overview of three-quarters of a century of American wars, properly grounding that history in the words of the men and women whose bodies were on the line.

Elise Forbes Tripp is a graduate of Harvard University and received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (S.A.I.S.) in International Relations and US Foreign Policy. She is the author of Surviving Iraq: Soldiers’ Stories.


Media Reviews

"The truth of any myth, says Claude Lévi-Strauss, is the sum of all of its versions. The same might well be said of any history, especially that of war. There is never one war or one true history of it. Every war is countless, in the lives it touches and in the stories it spawns; and the truth of any war is finally ‘out' and ‘safe' only once all of its stories have been told and listened to and preserved. Stories are a matter of life and death for war veterans, a road to healing, a road to be traveled by us all. Elise Forbes Tripp has done us all a great service by taking in and passing on to us the resonant voices and stories of fifty-five men and women whose collective military service spans our nation's major wars of the last seventy years. They cannot possibly offer the whole truth, but they bring us closer to it. Every shard is precious and indispensable."
—Robert Emmet Meagher, Professor of Humanities, Hampshire College, and author of Herakles Gone Mad: Rethinking Heroism in an Age of Endless War

"American Veterans on War offers fresh and unforgettable accounts as told by US veterans from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq.  It's sensational.  I'm also amazed by veterans like Don Ryan who fought in multiple wars. We hear in these voices what it is really like to serve in such different wars, and how veterans will forever carry the imprint of war in their hearts."
—Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times bestsellers War LettersBehind the Lines, and the National Endowment for the Art's Operation Homecoming

"Tripp (Surviving Iraq) has done a remarkable job curating these stories, and it is the interviews with individuals from lesser-known demographics—veterans of the Korean War (often known as The Forgotten War) and women involved in Vietnam—that make this collection unique. ...compelling and resonant."
—Publishers Weekly

"American Veterans on War: Personal Stories from WW II to Afghanistan collects testimonies and thoughts from fifty-five veterans, ages 20 to 90, on the thorny subject of war. They present true stories of fighting non-uniformed enemies, putting their lives on the line, and struggling with aftereffects after returning home from conflict. The contributions are sorted according to time period, and each prefaced with a no-nonsense summary of the major wars they touch upon. Perspectives on America's wars for the past 75 years make for a sobering and invaluable addition to military studies and philosophy shelves. Highly recommended."
Midwest Book Review

Praise for Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories

"Surviving Iraq is a valuable, indeed indispensable, addition to the literature on the war, especially because it bypasses pretentious analysis and gives us the voices of the soldiers."
—Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States of America

"Engrossing reading that benefits from its simple format..."
—Kirkus Reviews

"This fascinating collection of testimonies underscores the universality of all war. ... [A] shocking, moving and utterly heroic portrait of young men and women in impossible situations..."
Ken Burns, director and producer, The Civil War, The War (WW II)



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Challenging Empire
Beyond the Storm
Hijacking Catastrophe
City of Soldiers
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Altered States
Ending the Iraq War
Surviving Iraq