Suggested Topics for Discussion

with Joseph E. Garland, author of Unknown Soldiers

  1. You are emphatic that this not be viewed as your story, but as the collective story of your platoon. Why is this so important to you?
  2. Why did you enlist? Did you come to kick yourself for deciding to go?
  3. You became a member of an Intelligence & Reconnaissance platoon. How was this different from other front-line infantry positions?
  4. Did you hate the enemy? How did you feel about killing (whether directly or by bringing down fire on the Germans)? You describe the killing as murder. Did you really feel this way? How have your feelings evolved?
  5. Why did it take you so long to complete this book? How did your meeting with Dr. Jonathan Shay help you break through your writer's block?
  6. You reject the notion of a good war, so do you believe your role in World War II was wasted or wrong?
  7. Explain your nomination of the founding generation as the "greatest" rather than your own.
  8. You describe losing your helmet as an almost metaphysical metaphor for your ambivalence toward war. What was that all about?
  9. You talk about the need for one generation to talk to the next generations about their war experiences, to break through "the circle of silence," and yet you say that no one who hasn't lived in war can possibly understand it. How does your book address this apparent contradiction?


Featured Content

Video of author and Dr. Jonathan Shay discussing the effects of PTSD on the creative process

Chapter 16: Dachau complete text and audio, with author and buddies' voices, now online

Chapter 6 complete text and audio, with author and buddies' voices

Chapter 5 complete text read by author, with buddies' voices

View a slideshow of images.