For Love of Country
is a work of non-fiction co-written by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and foreign war correspondent for The Washington Post
Rajiv Chandrasekaran about the value of celebrating American veterans, particularly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book is a celebration of the accomplishments of modern soldiers and veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as an inspirational book about what veterans can teach civilians about sacrifice, courage, and what it means to be a citizen.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the national editor for The Washington Post
, has served as a foreign war correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan. From that experience, he wrote two books, Imperial Life in the Emerald City
and Little America: The War within the War for Afghanistan
. Both of these books put Chandrasekaran on the map as an expert on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. His new project to create a media partnership with Starbucks connected Schultz to this new endeavor to write about the value that today's soldiers can offer citizens, who, both men believe, are disconnected from the lives of average Americans. In response to that problem, the men authored For Love of Country,
which they hoped would tell the stories of today's soldiers and inspire others to behave with bravery and sacrifice, and to become better citizens.
The book is a collection of stories about the struggles and sacrifices that American soldiers have made in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last fifteen plus years. Unlike previous conflicts, in which there was a strong enemy front and news of American units was prominent in the media, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive little media attention because they consist primarily of small units involved in skirmishes with little known and understood tribes and terror cells or rebel groups in rural areas. The metric of success, unlike in previous conflicts, often changes depending on the political climate, and there is little measure for military success overseas. The goal is the survival of oneself and one’s comrades, which doesn't translate well to American audiences. For that reason, many of the stories of bravery and resilience overseas have been met with relative disinterest or not covered at all by the American media. The gaping hole between a soldier's experience and the lives of modern Americans has never been starker, which is what inspired Schultz and Chandrasekaran to write this collection of true stories from the front.
Many of the stories presented in For Love of Country
are, as one might imagine, disturbing, violent, and deeply sad. The book tells the story of a company of Army Rangers ambushed in a minefield in Afghanistan, which killed four of their companions. Forty-one of the men received Purple Hearts, and dozens of others were awarded medals for their skill and courage. In another story, Specialist Kyle White received a medal for fighting on a narrow trail amid Taliban gunfire when his Army platoon traveled to a small village for an important meeting that they feared would be a Taliban trap. Six of the men in the platoon were killed in action. Schultz and Chandrasekaran also tell the story of Sgt. Leroy Petry, who received a Medal of Honor when he grabbed a grenade in order to protect his men from injury and death.
Other stories tell of overcoming trauma, harassment, and other difficulties while serving one's country. Kellie McCoy, for instance, suffering from continual sexist behavior and commentary during her time as an Army engineer, bravely led her convoy through an attack outside Ramadi. When Dr. Bill Krisoff's son, Nate was killed in action, he used his medical skills to join the Navy Medical Corps in his early sixties, much older than most Army doctor recruits, and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The book also discusses the aftermath of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder and the high rates of veteran suicides that occur in America each year. A number of civilians affiliated with or otherwise connected to today's troupes have gathered together to create funds and support groups for families, treatment for trauma and other side effects of combat, and to help the families of the fallen. Other soldiers use their strength and experience to help communities in need recover from natural disasters, like Team Rubicon which has been present for a number of disaster-relief efforts since returning home from the war. One veteran left his job at the Pentagon after his military service to teach kids in an inner city neighborhood.
Overall, the book is a compendium of honorable and brave acts that demonstrate soldiers’ resilience in combat and the courage of veterans and their families to continue to serve their communities after returning from the wars.