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Broken Bodies, Shattered Minds


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About the Author

An American doctor and author, most famous for his best-selling book "365 Days", the pre-eminent Vietnam War book reviewed in the Washington Monthly and the New York Times. 365 Days has been translated into nine languages and is widely read. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Medical School and is a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Ronald Glasser's book is an argument for a choice between two stark, inescapable courses of action: call up a national draft and put everything we've got into the fight, or withdraw our forces from Southwest and Central Asia -- or to use his phrase, the "Edge of Empire." The paradigm shift between our presence in Indochina and our multiplex of wars these days is best reflected by the fact that the enemy used to shoot. Today, soldiers get blown up. And that is a fundamental difference, Dr. Glasser says. It seems that this veteran Army medic takes the image of exploded bodies as a larger metaphor for what is going on: everything is blowing up in our face and we have no plan.One decade after the beginning of a global war of undefined scope and duration against a protean foe that could hardly care less about the next American election cycle, the United States as a society is not at war -- only its allegedly all-volunteer Armed Forces and military families who have carried the entire burden for this Ten Years War, what some have called a crusade against evil that may simply be freedom enduring the sweeping dust over the "Graveyard of Empires." Since the weight of the fight is almost entirely borne by a sliver of the population, Glasser raises the question of a draft directly and forcefully. He writes that "even after a decade of fighting, with the volunteer army stretched to the limit and more and more reserve forces being deployed multiple times, no one is complaining, or even talking, of sharing the burden by instituting or considering a draft."It may be too glib to declare that the suffering remains the same, not only for all the psychological, physical, emotional, and social casualties returned back home to normal civilian life with the war still going on in their heads, or reflected in the form of a missed limb or a burned face.Although extraordinary strides in technology have kept more G.I.'s alive, many are condemned to live with injuries that, for some o

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