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Tribe
Cover of Tribe
Tribe
On Homecoming and Belonging
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Now a New York Times bestseller We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding—"tribes." This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern...
Now a New York Times bestseller We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding—"tribes." This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern...
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  • Now a New York Times bestseller


    We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding—"tribes." This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.
    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 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.

About the Author-

  • Sebastian Junger is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of War, The Perfect Storm, Fire, and A Death in Belmont. Together with Tim Hetherington, he directed the Academy Award-nominated film Restrepo, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and has been awarded a National Magazine Award and an SAIS Novartis Prize for journalism. He lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 21, 2016
    In this small but perfectly lucid book, National Magazine Award–winning journalist Junger (War) meditates on tribal sentiment, how it aids “loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning,” and how the disappearance of this sentiment has had toxic consequences for modern societies. During the U.S.’s wars of settlement with its native population, many white men defected to, and many white captives were reluctant to return from, what Junger describes as a Stone Age lifestyle; he wonders why, and suspects that the material benefits of Western culture couldn’t compete with “the intensely communal nature of an Indian tribe,” which was “more or less run by consensus and broadly egalitarian.” In the present day, the close interdependence of a tribal lifestyle and its shared resources are things Westerners only experience in combat situations and disasters. For all the comfort of modern society, Junger thinks, its “profound alienation” has led in America to income inequality, behaviors destructive to the environment, high rates of suicide and mental illness (including PTSD), and rampage shootings. Ending with a look at the country’s divisive political rhetoric, Junger suggests that the U.S. could cure its ills if we could only focus on the collective good. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2016
    A short book with a solid argument about the downside of civilization's progress. The latest from Vanity Fair contributing editor Junger (War, 2010, etc.) mixes memoir, reportage, and historical research into a case for the advantages of the tribe and how connective, communal benefits are lost as society moves toward competition and individuality. The author begins with the early settlement of America, examining how colonists introduced to tribal life, or captured into it, might convert to it, but the process rarely worked the other way. "Indians almost never ran away to join white society," writes Junger. "Emigration always seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal, and it left Western thinkers flummoxed about how to explain such an apparent rejection of their society." The author then makes a leap in his argument that is as provocative as some will find it counterintuitive: how war and catastrophe seem to instill that tribal spirit that individuals have otherwise lost and how the stress of such times serves to improve mental health rather than threaten it. As jarring as conjecture about "the positive effects of war on mental health" might seem, Junger amasses plenty of academic and anecdotal support. From there, he makes another leap, to PTSD, asserting that its prevalence stems less from the traumas of battle than from the difficulties of rejoining a disjointed, divided society after collective tribal bonding. "The problem doesn't seem to be the trauma on the battlefield so much as reentry into society," he writes, showing how PTSD can affect returnees who have never experienced combat. The author resists the temptation to glorify war as the solution to a nation's mental ills and warns against the tendency "to romanticize Indian life," but he does succeed in showing "the complicated blessings of 'civilization, ' " while issuing warnings about divisiveness and selfishness that should resonate in an election year. The themes implicit in the author's bestsellers are explicit in this slim yet illuminating volume.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2015
    Asking how we overcome trauma and find our place in the world, "Perfect Storm" author Junger points to our tribal instinct to form small, purposive groups, then to the alienation that characterizes today's society, whereby people don't feel the same need to cooperate. But that kind of small-unit loyalty continues to exemplify the best soldiering, argues Junger, and we have a lot to learn by studying how our veterans react as they return home.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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