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Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

by Sebastian Junger

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1,1483815,146 (3.84)25
Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians -- but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may help explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that -- for many veterans as well as civilians -- war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.… (more)
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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Short book, sort of a meandering essay about our social lives and especially about war and what it tells us about ourselves and how we live. I thought I wouldn’t like it, because it quotes a lot of social science without even pretending to be a scientific examination of the issues. But I liked almost everything he said, and I liked the way he said it.

It’s also interesting, so much has been written lately about the evils of tribalism, and I tend to agree with a lot of that. But he is concentrating on the good aspects of tribalism, without discounting the fact that there are many awful aspects at the same time. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Tribe by Sebastian Junger focuses on two main points of how humans are biologically wired to seek a tribe. One is that many aspects of modern life, from the industrial revolution to the digital age, challenge and disrupt our sense of community. And two, why war veterans returning from combat have such a difficult time reintegrating with society. Junger is a master storyteller here (he's also the reader of the audiobook) and both topics pull you right in. Even him talking about belonging feels like a kind of belonging in itself.

There's a culture war raging in America right now, some of which has also stretched out internationally thanks to globalization, and this war has many causes and effects going back years and decades. This need for a tribe, and its frequent intermittent loss, I believe is an under-discussed cause of this culture war. Globalization has a cost, and it's still unclear if we'll be able to pay the price AND continue to prosper. I believe we will but the outcome is very much unknown. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | May 13, 2022 |
We do live in a fragmented society. It's a book that is food for thought. He is always a good read. ( )
  nab6215 | Jan 18, 2022 |
Junger has seen war up close. This book is less about tribal living and more about the essential nature of community to heal the brokenness caused by things like PTSD and political division.

“If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you are different—you underscore your shared humanity.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Jan 17, 2022 |
I read this book because it was one of Jason Kander’s recommendations during a Twitter chat. I guess it was an okay book though and while I can’t exactly pinpoint what my issue was, I did feel uncomfortable at many points. Maybe it was just too concerned with masculine/male tribal behaviors and didn’t feel universal enough for me to connect. ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Despite its occasionally despairing tone, Tribe is a stirring clarion call for a return to solidarity. In advocating a public, shared confrontation with the psychic scars of war, Junger aims to stop trauma burning a hole through individual veterans. Such a collective catharsis might also be our best hope of healing the wounds modern society has inflicted on itself.
added by melmore | editThe Guardian, Matthew Green (Jun 22, 2016)
 
Junger argues persuasively that postcombat psychological problems must be understood as a problem of reintegrating to society on such terms, at least as much as they are due to the trauma of war. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a medical term for a cultural problem: the basic impossibility of digesting the experience of combat as an isolated individual among other isolated individuals, each devoted to pursuing his or her private interests. There is no tribe. To risk one’s life for the common good is to declare oneself outside this cultural logic of acquisitive individualism; the veteran is an outsider to us by definition, and no amount of yellow ribbons can change that fact.
 
Mr. Junger’s premise is simple: Modern civilization may be swell, giving us unimaginable autonomy and material bounty. But it has also deprived us of the psychologically invaluable sense of community and interdependence that we hominids enjoyed for millions of years. It is only during moments of great adversity that we come together and enjoy that kind of fellowship — which may explain why, paradoxically, we thrive during those moments. (In the six months after Sept. 11, Mr. Junger writes, the murder rate in New York dropped by 40 percent, and the suicide rate by 20 percent.)
 
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This book is dedicated to my brothers, John, Emory, and Chief
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Perhaps the single most startling fact about America is that, alone among the modern nations that have become world powers, it did so while butted up agains three thousand miles of howling wilderness populated by Stone-Age tribes.
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Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians -- but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may help explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that -- for many veterans as well as civilians -- war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.

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