On Homecoming and Belonging

Book - 2016 | First Canadian edition.
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Sebastian Junger, the bestselling author of War and The Perfect Storm, takes a critical look at post-traumatic stress disorder and the many challenges today's 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 they're 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 they've suffered, but also from the individualist societies they must reintegrate into.

A 2011 study by the Canadian Forces and Statistics Canada reveals that 78 percent of military suicides from 1972 to the end of 2006 involved veterans. Though these numbers present an implicit call to action, the government is only just taking steps now to address the problems veterans face when they return home. But can the government ever truly eliminate the challenges faced by returning veterans? Or is the problem deeper, woven into the very fabric of our modern existence? Perhaps our circumstances are not so bleak, and simply understanding that beneath our modern guises we all belong to one tribe or another would help us face not just the problems of our nation but of our individual lives as well.

Well-researched and compellingly written, this timely look at how veterans react to coming home will reconceive our approach to veteran's affairs and help us to repair our current social dynamic.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers, [2016]
Edition: First Canadian edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781443449588
Branch Call Number: 302.3 Jun
Characteristics: xvii, 168 pages ; 23 cm


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JCLCassandraG Dec 14, 2017

There were a lot of things I didn't like about this book, but it prompted what was probably our best book group discussion of the year. The author's refusal to cite sources internally leaves the reader constantly questioning where his data is from so they can fact-check or do their own research and as an avid non-fiction reader, I found this extremely frustrating! Each page of this tiny book is bursting with ideas and most chapters seem like they could have been fleshed out into books of their own. While I didn't agree with a lot of what the author had to say, Tribe certainly did make me think about society and I highly recommend this for any book groups looking for a short and easy non-fiction read!

JCLChrisK Nov 20, 2017

"During disasters there is a net gain in well-being."

Absolutely fascinating.

A brief, deeply researched book that expands on an article Junger wrote, it examines the evidence that people seem to feel more meaning and contentment during times of catastrophe and war than during ordinary times. Junger's contention is that this is so because it's in these moments people feel most connected to each other. The barriers and classifications that keep us apart in standard society are gone, and we become freer to identify with each other and work together with common purpose, which makes us happier. Whether we know it or not, people want tribes to belong to. Junger makes his case clearly and strongly--though leaves room for a companion volume exploring the implications of the conclusion and what we should do with the information.

It has me thinking.

Nov 15, 2017

TRIBE is a short, but powerful book in which author Sebastian Junger postulates that the intrinsic qualities of loyalty, belonging, and self-worth/purpose which characterized early American Indian cultures are largely absent in modern society with its emphasis on appearance, wealth, and status. As a result of this loss of “community”, Junger contends that today’s world is ill-prepared to deal with issues like mental illness, returning veterans, and PTSD, and only in times of catastrophe (either natural or man-made) do people “come together” to face the threat, but that’s only temporary. TRIBE doesn’t present in-depth analysis but I found it thought-provoking, and so socially and politically relevant, it's worthy of further discussion. Very glad I read it and wish our leaders in Washington would read it too.

Oct 23, 2017

On 2017 reading ballot

May 04, 2017

Interesting opinion about the need for people to protect and reconnect with each other at a time of crisis.

AL_RACHEL Jan 25, 2017

Sebastian Junger brings an interesting point to light with this read. His research points to the idea that modern society has obliterated the real meaning of community, making trauma recovery and societal reintegration far more difficult than it has ever been at any point in human history.

Jan 14, 2017

I learned about this book from a short essay the author wrote regarding PTSD that I thought had some merit. The book, much different. As a former veteran (Vietnam) I'm skeptical of some of the data and conclusions he presents. (i.e.) why bring the Amish in as a suicide example; most of them never go to war. I found from my own struggles, that you have to deal with a lot this on your own by education /forming some sort of religious or philosophy structure that help deal with the world. I read none of this sort of insight in his book.

Furthermore, his consistent hammer on Western civilization got old quick. We have problems but we’ve never had it so good either, both materially and medically but we should take care of our solders a lot better than we do.

Dec 27, 2016

"Tribe" is a remarkable encapsulation of what is known about us as humans. We are tribal in our instincts, actions and thinking since we also see it as necessary for our own and our group's survival.

"In The Prehistories of Baseball," it is shown that these strong tribal proclivities were seen in our earlier sports - where we essentially showed our strong preference for own our own tribe (team) competing against another. Today often the distinction between what is a game/a real battle is blurred. In this work, these tribal affiliations are evident in the earlier precursor games of baseball, for example, one tribe throwing rocks at another across a divide, such as a river; or, rocks raining down from higher elevation to those below. Baseball recalls our tribal roots and desire to assemble in our old ancestral places for communal events
Seelochan Beharry

Oct 21, 2016

Quite provocative. It's intriguing to read that suicide, etc. goes down in times of war, in the wake of far-reaching catastrophes.; that a lot of settlers went "native", etc. He clearly has a bias towards community and egalitarianism, which I share. However, it's important to challenge his ideas as you read; otherwise you might end up foolishly embracing a glorified version about tribalism. It's more complicated than this slim volume would have you believe.

Sep 14, 2016

As you might expect with such a short book, there is a lot left out, such as the way tribes can harass not just those taking too much power and free-loaders, but also anyone just not fitting in well enough.

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Nov 15, 2017

“The beauty and tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good.” - p. 59

Jun 21, 2016

"How do you unify a secure wealthy country that has sunk into a zero-sum political game with itself?"

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