Military memoirs abound, but few prove to be trustworthy accounts free of spin, bravura, or military glitter. John Merson’s War Lessons takes a rare reflective approach to this pressing issue of our time. In vivid, unadorned prose, he interweaves his own experiences in war with thoughtful assessments of how to prevent it. He highlights the daily experience of combat from the perspective of both the foot soldier and the villager in whose home the war is being fought. When he leaves Vietnam, Merson begins an odyssey that brings him back eight times. The book limns this process as a poignant personal voyage and the author struggles to understand why young people are drawn to war, how it changes those who fight it, why its destructive effects persist on both sides, how former enemies reconcile, and how soldiers wanted to be treated and remembered by the citizens who send them to war. War Lessons also offers hope, suggesting strategies for young people to help the world reclaim its humanity through healing actions such as participating in UN peacekeeping programs, working to prosecute war crimes, and protecting refugees.
About the Author
A member of the Military Order of the World Wars, Veterans for America, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, John Merson has an MBA from Harvard. Since 1997, Merson has run his own restoration project for historic homes on Nantucket Island, MA, where he lives.
“War Lessons is a timeless exploration of the horror and excitement of war for the individual soldier, as indelible as the scars war leaves on the soldier’s soul. The book is one that should be read by everyone who cares about the fate and future of our nation’s defenders.”
—Jan Scruggs, founder and board chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation
“This book is about death and rebirth, a tale of how one veteran overcame his guilt and anger from the battlefield by getting to know and helping to rebuild the country he had been trained to destroy.”
—From the foreword by Ken Bacon, president of Refugees International
“More than military memoir, Merson combines his experiences and writes of the limitations of war with considerations on how to prevent it, and proposes a variety of alternatives to war that are certainly compelling. This book should be on the desk of all world leaders who consider war as the only option to the solution of national differences.”
—Midwest Book Review