No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America
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As the post-9/11 wars wind down, a literature professor at West Point explores what it means for soldiers, and our country, to be caught between war and peace
Elizabeth D. Samet, a professor of English at West Point and the author of the critically acclaimed Soldier's Heart, came to question her settled understanding of post-9/11 America as a clear arc from peace to war. Over time, as she reckoned with her experiences-from a visit to a ward of wounded combat veterans to her correspondence with former cadets-Samet was led to profoundly rethink the last decade, an ambiguous passage that has left deep but difficult-to-read traces on our national psyche, our culture, our politics, and, most especially, an entire generation of military professionals. How will a nation that has refused to grapple honestly with these wars imagine its postwar responsibilities?
Samet calls the moment in which we live, lying as it does somewhere between war and peace, a "no man's land." She takes the reader on a vivid tour of that landscape, populated as much by the scars of war as by the everyday realities of life on the home front. Grounded in Samet's experience as a teacher of future army officers, No Man's Land is a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between "over here" and "over there."
The views expressed in this book are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.
incompatibility of military service and the deeply imaginative, deliberative life in an ode (2.7) dedicated to his old friend Pompey, with whom he had served in the defeated army of Brutus during Rome’s civil wars. From the comfort of his Sabine farm, Horace recounts how, throwing down his shield at the battle, he was whisked away to safety in a cloud by Mercury, protector of poets. The ode parodies the traditional epic deus ex machina: “But swift Mercury bore me aloft in my panic into a dense
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“you don’t know what type of style your opponent is going to have, and elite boxers know to assess the style of an opponent in a split second (right after the opening bell), employ a certain strategy, but be ready and willing to adapt and adjust strategies in an instant if the initial one is not working successfully.” A solid plan A that plays to one’s strengths is great, Mike concedes, but a boxer had better have “plan B, plan C, plan D, and plan E in his back pocket if the first plan proves
synthetic faculty of imagination. I knew I had to articulate for the parents both the paradox of preparation and the ways in which we tried to escape it through a combination of readings that have included, over the years, everything from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to Hamlet to Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and events that have ranged from the literary autobiography to performance workshops with professional actors from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, a company headquartered just across the
had moved the border in the intervening years right into the middle of the horror, just as Yossarian surreptitiously moves the bomb line—that red ribbon of demarcation on the map indicating the area beyond which targets can be safely attacked without endangering friendly ground troops—to circumvent a dreaded mission to Bologna. As it rains day after day at their air base on the fictitious island of Pianosa, Yossarian and the rest of the men begin a “macabre vigil” around the bomb line map as if