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Over the last few decades, as the United States has become embroiled in foreign war after foreign war, some of the most vocal activists for peace have been veterans. These veterans for peace come from all different races, classes, regions, and generations. What common motivations unite them and fuel their activism?
Guys Like Me introduces us to five ordinary men who have done extraordinary work as peace activists: World War II veteran Ernie Sanchez, Korean War veteran Woody Powell, Vietnam veteran Gregory Ross, Gulf War veteran Daniel Craig, and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Jonathan Hutto. Acclaimed sociologist Michael Messner offers rich profiles of each man, recounting what led him to join the armed forces, what he experienced when fighting overseas, and the guilt and trauma he experienced upon returning home. He reveals how the pain and horror of the battlefront motivated these onetime warriors to reconcile with former enemies, get involved as political activists, and help younger generations of soldiers.
Guys Like Me is an inspiring multigenerational saga of men who were physically or psychically wounded by war, but are committed to healing themselves and others, forging a path to justice, and replacing endless war with lasting peace
About the Author
MICHAEL A. MESSNER is a professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is the author or editor of many books, including Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women, King of the Wild Suburb: A Memoir of Fathers, Sons and Guns, and No Slam Dunk: Gender, Sport and the Unevenness of Social Change (Rutgers University Press).
“The greatest of all myths about wars is that they come to an end. This deeply personal, very human book shows how ten, twenty, thirty, sixty years later their hurts and scars live on in those who fought them. Michael Messner has brought on stage some eloquent survivors whom our politicians should listen to before they dare even consider sending young men and women out to fight yet again.”
— Adam Hochschild
“There is a revelation on every page of Guys Like Me. The journey any man takes to transform his sense of his own manliness isn’t direct or simple. And, as Michael Messner shows us in these five engaging life histories, each gendered journey will have added twists and turns when distorted by militarism. A truly humane book."
— Cynthia Enloe
"With Guys Like Me, Michael Messner delivers an eloquent, passionate, and moving account of how war has sometimes moved veterans towards peace. Messner’s interviewees give us hope that humanity might yet one day listen to the soldiers who have gone to war, the ones who tell us, again and again, that war’s devastation is never worth it."
— Viet Thanh Nguyen
"Michael Messner is our new Studs Terkel. His five men speak with extraordinary eloquence about the psychic wounds they suffered in war, and the moral odysseys they undertook to break the silence that surrounds the human cost of war in the United States. Each man fought in a different war, but each tells a common story of exploitation by their own government and a descent into numbness, followed by redemption. These men form an intergenerational chain reflecting with honesty and courage on masculinity and war. Messner describes and analyzes their experiences with warmth and insight. Essential reading for those seeking to understand military veterans."
— Hugh Gusterson
"Messner's narrative points the way for other activists seeking to build popular opposition movements."
"This book tells the stories of five veterans of five U.S. wars: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq Parts I and II. We learn their stories from long before they entered the military through long after they left it. The stories are well-told, with subtlety and complexity, not museum-like propaganda. Patterns become evident without the book becoming repetitious. Each person is unique, but each confronts the same monster."
"All five [veterans] are unique and engaging storytellers who pack the book with human interest....The testimonies of these varied, thoughtful, and racially diverse veterans are at stark odds with the cinematic ads we see of government-approved pro-war imagery, and it’s important they be heard."