Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
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.
'A brilliant little book driven by a powerful idea and series of reflections ... I would give this gem of an essay to anyone embarking on the understanding of human society and governance' Evening Standard 'An eloquent and thought-provoking book ... it could help us to think more deeply about how to help men and woman battered by war to find new purpose in peace' The Times 'Fascinating, insightful and built on real and difficult experiences as well as a background in anthropology' Sunday Times 'An electrifying tapestry of history, anthropology, psychology and memoir that punctures the stereotype of the veteran as a war-damaged victim in need of salvation. Rather than asking how we can save our returning servicemen and women, Junger challenges us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether we can save ourselves ... 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' Guardian 'Junger is particularly insightful when he is discussing combat soldiers and the difficulties they experience when returning from war zones ... Junger is correct to draw attention to the major faultlines in affluent societies, including the dismantling of a sense of community. A growing proportion of people are suffering from clinical depression, anxiety and chronic loneliness. He rightly observes that wealth is not the route to happiness. Being loved and giving love are fundamental to human happiness and health' Observer 'A small, but convincingly argued, book ... a good starting point for rethinking the way we live our troubled modern lives' Daily Mail 'Lucid and engaging' TLS
SEBASTIAN JUNGER is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont, Fire, and War. 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.