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No Man's Land

No Man's Land

Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America

Elizabeth D. Samet

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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As the post-9/11 wars wind down, a literature professor at West Point explores what it means for soldiers, and our country, to be caught between war and peace

Elizabeth D. Samet, a professor of English at West Point and the author of the critically acclaimed Soldier's Heart, came to question her settled understanding of post-9/11 America as a clear arc from peace to war. Over time, as she reckoned with her experiences—from a visit to a ward of wounded combat veterans to her correspondence with former cadets—Samet was led to profoundly rethink the last decade, an ambiguous passage that has left deep but difficult-to-read traces on our national psyche, our culture, our politics, and, most especially, an entire generation of military professionals. How will a nation that has refused to grapple honestly with these wars imagine its postwar responsibilities?
Samet calls the moment in which we live, lying as it does somewhere between war and peace, a "no man's land." She takes the reader on a vivid tour of that landscape, populated as much by the scars of war as by the everyday realities of life on the home front. Grounded in Samet's experience as a teacher of future army officers, No Man's Land is a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between "over here" and "over there."

The views expressed in this book are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the… More…

As the post-9/11 wars wind down, a literature professor at West Point explores what it means for soldiers, and our country, to be caught between war and peace

Elizabeth D. Samet, a professor of English at West Point and the author of the critically acclaimed Soldier's Heart, came to question her settled understanding of post-9/11 America as a clear arc from peace to war. Over time, as she reckoned with her experiences—from a visit to a ward of wounded combat veterans to her correspondence with former cadets—Samet was led to profoundly rethink the last decade, an ambiguous passage that has left deep but difficult-to-read traces on our national psyche, our culture, our politics, and, most especially, an entire generation of military professionals. How will a nation that has refused to grapple honestly with these wars imagine its postwar responsibilities?
Samet calls the moment in which we live, lying as it does somewhere between war and peace, a "no man's land." She takes the reader on a vivid tour of that landscape, populated as much by the scars of war as by the everyday realities of life on the home front. Grounded in Samet's experience as a teacher of future army officers, No Man's Land is a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between "over here" and "over there."

The views expressed in this book are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

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Praise for No Man's Land

“As a civilian professor at West Point--a state of not quite military, not quite civilian--Samet is uniquely positioned to ponder and probe the intellectual and emotional challenges confronting the modern officer corps. Her smooth flowing essay delivers penetrating observations and criticisms... of what it means for the United States and its soldiery to be "adrift between war and peace.” —Gregory Crouch, Washington Post

“[Samet] writes evocatively and eloquently.” —J. Ford Huffman, Military Times

“Part literary criticism, part intellectual memoir, and part reportage of the struggles, successes, and in two cases the deaths of her former students, No Man's Land is a moving, insightful, and refreshingly iconoclastic guide toward a more nuanced understanding of America and the military that fights for it.” —Phil Klay, Redeployment

“Splendidly written and intensely provocative... [No Man's Land] is an appropriate memorial...” —Philip Seib, Dallas Morning News

Reviews from Goodreads

Elizabeth D. Samet

Elizabeth D. Samet is the author of Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest and was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2007 by The New York Times; and Willing Obedience: Citizens, Soldiers, and the Progress of Consent in America, 1776–1898. Her essays and reviews have been published in The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, and Bloomberg View. Samet won the 2012 Hiett Prize in the Humanities and was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to support the research and writing of a book about mythologies of the war veteran in Hollywood cinema. She is a professor of English at West Point.

image of Elizabeth D. Sameto
© Bachrach

Elizabeth D. Samet

Elizabeth D. Samet at the New Republic

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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