Matt Gallagher in Time:
Nick McDonell has spent the past decade going in and out of war zones across the Middle East. He’s a conflict journo, through and through, with a background interesting in a whole different way—he began his career as a teenage novelist who wrote about privileged Manhattan youth. He’s found a lot of darkness there, but also something else, something much more important yet so often dismissed by an American society numb to foreign war: life. The everyday lives of Afghans and Iraqis caught up in that war, a war that is anything but foreign to them.
These civilians – we called them “locals” in the Army, a bit dehumanizing, perhaps, though far better than some alternatives – often serve as backdrops in contemporary war literature. McDonell brings them to the forefront in his dark and electric new book, The Bodies in Person: An Account of Civilian Casualties in American Wars.
The Bodies in Person braids together personal testimonies from survivors of our post-9/11 wars (generating what McDonell calls “the power of specificity”) with his own journey through the byzantine American military bureaucracy to find an answer to a very simple question: just how many innocents is it okay to kill while pursuing enemy?