Edited by Tyler Cabot
Stories by Philip Caputo, John Sack, Michael Herr, Chris Jones, Brian Mockenhaupt, and Colby Buzzell.
"Men have always fought. And, like no other magazine, Esquire has always chronicled war."
This second volume of Esquire’s eightieth-anniversary anthology series collects, for the first time, its eight greatest war stories of all time. There’s John Sack’s 33,000-word New Journalism opus “M,” which follows in shocking and compassionate detail a single Army company from Fort Dix to South Vietnam, next to Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Caputo’s enthralling account from 1980 of sneaking into Afghanistan during the Russian occupation (“A Rumor of Resistance”). Colby Buzzell’s hilarious, devastating memoir of serving as a gunner in Iraq (“The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Soldier”) leads into Lieutenant J. K. Taussig’s astonishing first-person report of being bombarded on the USS Nevada, in “My Crew at Pearl Harbor”—a definitive story that hasn’t been reprinted in sixty years.
Next comes Brian Mockenhaupt sitting bedside with a fellow soldier whose skull was blown apart in Baghdad (“Sgt. Wells’s New Skull”) and Michael Herr, writing from deep in the Vietnamese jungle after the Tet Offensive. His 1966 story “Hell Sucks” would form the foundation of the now classic book “Dispatches”. On its heels comes Chris Jones’s National Magazine Award–winning story “The Things That Carried Him,” which follows in precise, vivid detail one soldier’s journey from the dusty Iraqi desert where he was killed to the Indiana cemetery where his body now rests. The volume concludes with William Broyles Jr.’s 1984 classic “Why Men Love War,” about why he’ll never feel as alive as he did while fighting and watching others die—and scream and cry and kill—in Vietnam.
These eight unforgettable stories, all brutal in the horror, fear, madness, and even beauty they reveal about war, remain as timeless and riveting as the day they were first published.