Not long after reading this quasi-narrative about U.S. soldiers who have deserted the military, we came across a piece in The New York Times about increased prosecutions of such deserters. The Times piece is not at all narrative; it offers analysis and background on the issue of military desertion. The two make an interesting pair: The Spiegel piece, because it does not provide such broader context, runs the risk of creating the impression that desertion is more widespread than it really is. The Times piece offers a sober assessment of trends. On the other hand, The Spiegel story offers a fairly close look at several men who fled the military for reasons of conscience or trauma. Such narrative treatment of their stories is worthwhile, whether the soldiers are part of an exceptional trend or not.

Read “Casualties of Conscience,” by Mary Wiltenburg

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