The prolonged conflict in Iraq has shown us war’s transformative effect. Civilians rivet themselves to events happening halfway around the world, while young soldiers return home from battlefields, coping with the memories of those events.
How We Are Changed by War examines our sense of ourselves through the medium of diaries and wartime correspondence, beginning with the colonists of the early seventeenth century, and ending with the diaries and letters from Iraqi war vets. The book tracks the effects of war in private writings regardless of the narrator’s historical era allowing the writers to ‘speak’ to each other across time to reveal a profound commonality of cultural experience. Finally, interpreting the narratives by how the writers conveyed the content adds a richer layer of meaning through the lenses of psychology and literary criticism, providing a model for any society to examine itself through the medium of its members’ informal writings.
Introduction 1. The Metes and Bounds of Narrative and Self 2. An Opportunity for Change: War and Ambition 3. Conversion 4. A Growing Estrangement 5. The Complexity of Spectatorship 6. Eye of the Storm 7. A Continuing Aftermath