Alongside stories that convey intimately the destruction and heartbreak of armed conflict, Miller captures the courage and resilience he calls “a remarkable kind of light,” an essential counterpoint to the grief and trauma that war creates. The stories in War Torn are powerful, heart-wrenching, and unforgettable.
War Torn is not an easy book to read. Through various continents and wars, the effects on local non-combatants is worse than anything Stephen King could dream up.
So, once the war is over (if it ever ends), what are people supposed to do? Stay where they are and possibly continue to be victimized? Try to emigrate, an often dangerous, long and expensive process? No option is attractive.
Two stories from the book really spoke to me.
One was from Guatemala, where the area was controlled by a paramilitary force consisting mostly of utterly ruthless young men, usually with automatic weapons. At the beginning of their training, they were given a puppy to raise. At the end of their training, they had to kill and eat that puppy. (I nearly threw up when I read that.) Life, other than perhaps their own, had no value for them, so it was easy to kill anyone setting a foot wrong around them.
The other was took place in Sri Lanka (I believe). There was a village near the border, where the villagers were of one religion. Just across the border was another village where a different religion held sway. One night some people from the 2nd village crossed the border and killed anyone they found in town. Men, women, children, infants, whole families. It didn't matter. And the murders were obscenely vicious.
Mr. Miller could have written from anywhere on that 'right' to 'left' spectrum, but he doesn't...and I respect that. He reported what he saw without attempting to convince a reader to believe like he did. Anyone who knows that war is not a 'glorious exercise' (or even more so, those people who think it is) should have War Torn on their shelves and/or e-reader.
The author, Mr. Miller, is either crazy (for going back time after time to document) or is called to the work. My guess is a little of both.
MEET THE AUTHOR
An international expert on the impact of armed conflict on civilians, psychologist Kenneth E. Miller has been working with war-affected communities since 1991 as a researcher, clinician, organizational consultant, and filmmaker. A professor of clinical and community psychology for much of his career (San Francisco State University, Pomona College), in 2015 he joined the Dutch NGO War Child Holland and is currently based in Amsterdam.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Virtual Author Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)
***Please note: My review was supposed to be posted on November 4, 2016, but I was unable to complete it at that time. I regret any confusion and disappointment this may have caused.