Some warriors are drawn to the thrill of combat and find it the defining moment of their lives. Others fall victim to fear, exhaustion, impaired reasoning and despair. This book synthesizes the wartime experiences of American soldiers, from the doughboys of World War I to the grunts of Vietnam. Focusing on both soldiers and marines, it draws on histories and memoirs, oral histories, psychological and sociological studies and even fiction to show that their experiences remain fundamentally the same regardless of the enemy, terrain, training or weaponry. The author looks at what motivated these men to serve and how they were turned into soldiers. He recreates the physical and emotional aspects of war to tell how fighting men dealt with danger and hardship, and he explores the roles of comradeship and leadership. He also investigates why some men broke down under fire while others excelled. By capturing the core ""band of brothers"" experience across several generations of warfare, Kindsvatter celebrates the American soldier while helping us to better understand war's lethal reality, and why soldiers persevere in the face of its horrors.
Peter S. Kindsvatter served in the U.S. Army for twenty-one years and retired as an Armor lieutenant colonel. He is the Command Historian at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools, Aberdeen Proving Ground.