What are immediate and long-term effects of experiencing combat firsthand? In this conversation we probe this question as Chris Hedges, a veteran war correspondent, and Anthony Swofford, a former U.S. Marine Corps sniper, describe memories they would each rather forget. The truths they report are often hidden from public view, for they profoundly challenge the romantic mythology of war. The truth of war makes clear the sacrifice demanded of those sent to fight. Soldiers, their families, caregivers, and taxpaying citizens should not to be deceived about what awaits those caught in a military process that brings them face-to-face with incomprehensible violence. How might knowledge of the truth of war help to heal war’s wounds?
Chris Hedges was a foreign correspondent for nearly 20 years, working as the bureau chief in the Middle East and the Balkans for The New York Times. He was a member of the Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His other books are What Every Person Should Know About War and Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America. He lives in New Jersey.
Anthony Swofford served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisitions/ Scout-Sniper platoon during the First Gulf War. He attended the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop before publishing his best-selling book, Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles. Released as a major motion picture in the spring of 2005, Jarhead, in Swofford’s words, “offers a soldier’s voice at a time when one needs to be heard.” His writing has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, and The Telegraph Magazine, among other places. His awards include a PEN Art of the Memoir Award for Jarhead and a James Michener/Copernicus Society Fiction Fellowship. His next book, Exit A: A Novel, will be published in January 2007. He lives in New York City.
DAVID SPIEGEL (moderator)
David Spiegel received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Yale and his medical and psychiatric training at Harvard prior to joining the Stanford School of Medicine faculty in 1975. He is a leader in the field of psychosomatic research and founder of Stanford’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Among his many highly influential research programs is a study of reactions to life-threatening events that led to the inclusion of Acute Stress Disorder, a new psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV). From 1976-1980 he served as director of Social Psychiatry and Community Services for the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Medical Center where, in addition to many other responsibilities at the School of Medicine, he is currently a physician and consultant.