Tribe by Sebastian Junger

Chris Woodall | 2017-05-02

Sebastian Junger’s Tribe is a short but poignant book about the transition from childhood to adulthood and belonging. The book seems to focus on a male perspective, but is not exclusionary so much as just very specific. The focus is on how do humans adapt from being part of groups—such as the military, where they have a strong sense of belonging, purpose and brotherhood—to being single independent units which are so common in modern America. It really delves into the psychological pain that is created by our current social structures, and how they are different in some other cultures. For me one of the most interesting examples was related to veterans in America versus veterans in Israel. In the US veterans are treated as outsiders, as people who did “great” things, but whose experiences could infect the population. As a result they do not feel welcome and can become isolated, creating symptoms of psychological diseases like PTSD, or making them worse. In Israel (according to Junger), since the battlefront, and soldiers are so close all the time the experience of being a soldier is a bonding experience to the nation, not an isolating one. Thus the soldiers tend to fit back into society. I thought this idea was interesting, and it seems to apply to any kind of negativity in America, it infects you…

Junger’s book is a good perspective and a fast read.