Read Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger Online

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Sebastian Junger, the bestselling author of War and The Perfect Storm, takes a critical look at post-traumatic stress disorder and the many challenges todays returning veterans face in modern society.There are ancient tribal human behaviors-loyalty, inter-reliance, cooperation-that flare up in communities during times of turmoil and suffering. These are the very same behaviors that typify good soldiering and foster a sense of belonging among troops, whether theyre fighting on the front lines or engaged in non-combat activities away from the action. Drawing from history, psychology, and anthropology, bestselling author Sebastian Junger shows us just how at odds the structure of modern society is with our tribal instincts, arguing that the difficulties many veterans face upon returning home from war do not stem entirely from the trauma theyve suffered, but also from the individualist societies they must reintegrate into.A 2011 study by the Canadian Forces and Statistics Canada reveals th...

Title : Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Author :
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ISBN : 9781455566389
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 192 pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging Reviews

  • Jean

    I have read several articles recently about our society’s problems with individualism. When I saw Junger’s short book on the subject, I thought it might give me a more in-depth viewpoint on the subject, which it did.

    Junger tells of Benjamin Franklin’s 1753 observation that white prisoners of Native American Tribes when recused would run back to the Native American Tribe they had been with. But the situation never worked it reverse. Franklin concluded there was something wrong with our society.


  • Monica

    **Warning: This review may be longer than the entire book.**

    Interesting and thought provoking; if not entirely convincing. On the one hand, some very compelling ideas about the feeling of smaller, close knit communities and how they can foster and encourage good mental health and enhance happiness. On the other hand, Junger for the most part, blames wealth and technological advances for the moral decline of America. While not without evidence, it's still an arduous climb to get to where he wants

    I do not use footnotes because this is not an academic book and footnotes can interfere with the ease of reading. Nevertheless, I felt that certain scientific studies about modern society, about combat, and about post-traumatic stress disorder had the potential to greatly surprise or even upset some readers. [sic] After giving the matter much thought, I decided that doing so was within my journalistic standards as long as I was clear with my readers about my lack of documentation.
    I read this as "caveat emptor" aka brace yourself for some unsubstantiated and perhaps unpalatable bull pucky.

    I approached with the appropriate (in my mind) amount of trepidation and what I found was a philosophical potpourri, some of which I suspect to be true (which perhaps demonstrates some bias in me) and some of which details the bias of the author. Junger starts out with a very compelling premise about the nature of communities. His premise boiled down to the idea that smaller, simpler communities were better for mankind in all the ways that matter (spiritually, physically, psychologically). Basically he asserts that the small communities are more egalitarian and force everyone to do their fair share and promotes a view for the common good rather than for self. The bulk of his proof stemmed from the pioneer days where most of the kidnapped settlers ended up preferring the Indian way of life to the European. From the book summary:
    Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians-but Indians almost never did the same.
    Junger felt like the pioneers had too much technology and materialism.
    First agriculture, and then industry, changed two fundamental things about the human experience. The accumulation of personal property allowed people to make more and more individualistic choices about their lives, and those choices unavoidably diminished group efforts toward a common good.
    And in all honesty, philosophically that resonates with me. Fast forward to modern times with our big cities and high tech and wow have we faltered…
    Although happiness is notoriously subjective and difficult to measure, mental illness is not. Numerous cross-cultural studies have shown that modern society—despite its nearly miraculous advances in medicine, science, and technology—is afflicted with some of the highest rates of depression, schizophrenia, poor health, anxiety, and chronic loneliness in human history. As affluence and urbanization rise in a society, rates of depression and suicide tend to go up rather than down.
    It is as this point that I remember "caveat emptor" because wow that is some unsubstantiated stuff. Though I can admit that it feels very true, the intellectual part of me that thinks that he's wildly extrapolating and/or misinterpreting studies and data aka manipulating to influence thought, though I can't prove it because he has very few notes. But I enjoyed the journey. Junger goes on to say that natural disasters and warfare (in other words stressors) make communities closer and more egalitarian. No he is not advocating for war, he is presenting an observation:
    Communities that have been devastated by natural or man-made disasters almost never lapse into chaos and disorder; if anything, they become more just, more egalitarian, and more deliberately fair to individuals.
    According to Junger (and it again "feels" true)
    If anything, he found that social bonds were reinforced during disasters, and that people overwhelmingly devoted their energies toward the good of the community rather than just themselves.
    He by the way seems to think that being poor is in the realm of natural disaster and warfare (again "feels" true, but also biased and unsubstantiated)
    The mechanism seems simple: poor people are forced to share their time and resources more than wealthy people are, and as a result they live in closer communities.
    But things get a little tilted as Junger continues to assault modern society
    Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.
    Financial independence can lead to isolation, and isolation can put people at a greatly increased risk of depression and suicide.
    The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good.
    As modern society reduced the role of community, it simultaneously elevated the role of authority.

    It's at this point that Junger tries to tie the concept of tribalism to military veterans specifically those with PTSD. While I think he had some interesting concepts about the nature of mankind in small communities versus the cities today, I really think he struggled with trying to link veterans. I understand his point about military units being a bit like tribes and how most members of the unit are more concerned with the success of their comrades than themselves. As an ex-military member I know this to be similar to my own experiences. However Junger takes it to a very weird place. Ostensibly he is talking about the type of communities that the veterans return to.
    Such public meaning is probably not generated by the kinds of formulaic phrases, such as “Thank you for your service,” that many Americans now feel compelled to offer soldiers and vets. Neither is it generated by honoring vets at sporting events, allowing them to board planes first, or giving them minor discounts at stores. If anything, these token acts only deepen the chasm between the military and civilian populations by highlighting the fact that some people serve their country but the vast majority don’t.
    Junger seems to be talking almost exclusively about combat veterans not the entire military, however he doesn't seem to know there is a distinction. His references are to a shared trauma that binds veterans but he also has this rather stunning negativity towards veterans.
    The one way that soldiers are never allowed to see themselves during deployment is as victims, because the passivity of victimhood can get them killed. It’s yelled, beaten, and drilled out of them long before they get close to the battlefield. But when they come home they find themselves being viewed so sympathetically that they’re often excused from having to fully function in society.
    and those folks familiar with Hillbilly Elegy may find this thinking a little familiar:
    Instead of being able to work and contribute to society—a highly therapeutic thing to do—a large percentage of veterans are just offered lifelong disability payments. And they accept, of course—why shouldn’t they? A society that doesn’t distinguish between degrees of trauma can’t expect its warriors to, either.
    Essentially, he's saying that veterans are not that different than other traumatic experiences in life and he's not sure they deserve special dispensation.
    The public is often accused of being disconnected from its military, but frankly it’s disconnected from just about everything. Farming, mineral extraction, gas and oil production, bulk cargo transport, logging, fishing, infrastructure construction—all the industries that keep the nation going are mostly unacknowledged by the people who depend on them most.
    In Jungers view, being a warrior is just another job within the community (tribe) and should be treated in the same way as other occupations. Again, incredibly thought provoking, and again "feels" like a ton of manipulation of data and intellectual bullying to arrive there.

    A lot of what Junger said resonated with me. But I read enough to know he was catering to my biases in order to arrive at a place that he wanted to go. Frankly there was a lot of hidden messaging in the book that I picked up on. The contention that a "good" community is a small community where everyone only does things that help the community. Smacks of two things, isolationism and rural America is the only America that counts with just a smidgen of white nationalism. Also throughout the book there was a bit of an assertion of masculinity. There's the statement that
    It may say something about human nature that a surprising number of Americans—mostly men—wound up joining Indian society rather than staying in their own.
    or the
    To the extent that boys are drawn to war, it may be less out of an interest in violence than a longing for the kind of maturity and respect that often come with it.
    The book is peppered with such examples that indicate to me that Junger is concerned about the patriarchy. By the way, all of the veterans that he refers to are men. My earworm reading this book was "I'm a maaan, yes I am and I can't help but let you know…" Yes, I know that isn't the real lyric. Look, it's my earworm…

    3.5 conflicted Stars rounded up because I was completely fascinated

    It's a short read that is well worth a look, but with a watchful eye...

    Read on my kindle. ...more

  • Bahramo

    Wow. By far the best non fiction I've read so far this year (2016). Timely. Engaging. In my opinion, his best work yet. I'm tempted to complain that it is too short, but the point gets hammered home effectively. It should be required school reading. I'll be thinking about this for a while....

  • Matt

    “Robert Frost famously wrote that home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. The word ‘tribe’ is far harder to define, but a start might be the people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with…This book is about why that sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal quest for meaning…”

    - Sebastia

  • Sam Quixote

    Is Western civilization the pinnacle of human achievement? In Tribe, Sebastian Junger questions this notion by looking at, among other examples, why colonial Americans left behind the burgeoning settlements to live with the tribal Indians; why, as technological advances have sped up over time (and accelerate still faster today), we are all “connected” and yet more and more of us feel isolated, depressed and unsatisfied with life in the Information Age; and why comfort is killing us and, rather t ...more

  • Michael

    Junger has an appealing message. That humans have evolved a high order of altruism associated with our tribal social nature which leads us to be willing to take great risks to save another member of the tribe. In many circumstances people are willing to sacrifice themselves for total strangers. Time and again when disasters like earthquakes occur the vast majority of people relinquish all sense of selfishness and pitch in to help. In specific examples like the Blitz of daily bombing of London by ...more

  • Darlene

    "The Army might screw you and your girlfriend might dump you and the enemy might

    kill you, but the shared commitment to safeguard one another's lives is unnegotiable

    and only deepens with time. The willingness to die for another person is a form of love

    that even religions fail to inspire, and the experience of it changes a person profoundly."

    -Sebastian Junger- 'War'

    I chose to begin this review with a quote from Sebastian Junger's honest but discomfiting book, War because I felt that what he

  • Jennifer Taw

    Tribe provides a good foundation for discussions about war, community, gender roles, government, economics, justice, violence, and the intersections of all of the above. It also has some really interesting statistics kind of scattered throughout. That said, as a book on its own, I found it disappointing. There are too many oversimplified or over-generalized observations; there are too many times that an outcome is explained using one variable (sense of community, for example), and then explained ...more