Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War


photo of a book titled Patriotic Dissent

Hardcover, 5.5 x 8.5,
160 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145145.

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By Daniel A. Sjursen


This incendiary work by Daniel Sjursen is a personal cry from the heart by a once-model US Army officer and West Point graduate who became a military dissenter while still on active duty. Set against the backdrop of the terror wars of the last two decades, Sjursen asks whether there is a proper space for patriotism that renounces entitled exceptionalism and narcissistic jingoism. Once a burgeoning believer and budding conservative, Sjursen performed an intellectual and spiritual about-face. He now calls for a critical exploration of our allegiances, and he suggests a path to a new, more complex notion of patriotism. Equal parts unsentimental and idealistic, this is a story about what it means to be an American in the midst of perpetual war, and what the future of patriotism might look like.


REVIEWS


“Tyrants, oppressors and exploiters, Eugene V. Debs observed, always wrap themselves in the cloaks of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the public. The true patriots, as Danny Sjursen understands, are not the crowds of flag-waving cheerleaders used and manipulated by the ruling elites to stifle dissent, but those isolated individuals who find the moral courage to speak uncomfortable truths and demand justice. True patriots, as Sjursen explains, make us a better people and a better nation. True patriots, like Martin Luther King or Debs, are usually viciously attacked in their lifetimes. But history exposes, long after true patriots are gone, who stood beside us and who wrapped themselves in the flag to betray us. Sjursen, a combat veteran and West Point graduate, brings to this book the weight of his experience and a moral clarity that delineates the true patriots from the imposters, and with that delineation the meaning of patriotism itself.”  

Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

 

“Major Danny Sjursen gives readers a right-seat ride on his transformation from a US Army commander in Iraq to a veteran truth activist. His story proves that anyone can rise from the ashes of moral injury when the nation betrays the social contract to an American soldier.”

Garett Reppenhagen, executive director of Veterans For Peace, OIF veteran U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division 

“Major Danny Sjursen is the real deal, a combat veteran and survivor of our forever wars who writes like a dream. This is a scathingly honest, no-holds-barred account of one man’s disillusionment. Sjursen knows the perils of battle and understands the dangers of being lied to. His devotion to country is as deep as it is inspiring. This powerful book is a great achievement, rich in pain and moral understanding. Everyone should read it.”

Robert Scheer, journalist and author of How the United States Got Involved in Vietnam

 

“Major Danny Sjursen speaks and writes with a rare combination of passion, experience, intellectual honesty, and moral clarity. He is a legitimate soldier-scholar.” 

Major General (Retired) Dennis Laich, author of Skin in the Game: Poor Kids and Patriots, and graduate of the U.S. Army War College and Harvard’s National and International Security Program

 

“Combining history with memoir, Patriotic Dissent bears the hallmarks of everything that Danny Sjursen writes. It is vivid, impassioned, uncompromising, and true. Here is a book that demands to be read and widely discussed.”

Andrew Bacevich, author of The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory

 

“James Madison warned that America’s surest route to tyranny was abuse of the war power. US Army Major Danny Sjursen, in Patriotic Dissent, illustrates the truth of Madison’s warning by demonstrating that the longest period of war in our history is devouring our national soul. Major Sjursen’s remedy is patriotic dissent. That there is today precious little such dissent, even in the middle of our profound decay, could well signal ‘Taps’ for our republic. But Major Sjursen takes it further. As the world confronts the rising dangers of a nuclear holocaust and a looming climate crisis, both threatening human existence altogether, it isn’t simply the aspirational republic of America that is endangered, it’s everything. He writes: ‘America’s—and the world’s—impending disaster has been a complex collective exercise in which all of us were long, if unwittingly, complicit.’ So, it will take all of us to save us—all of us acting as participatory principled patriots.”

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, US Army (retired), former chief of staff to the secretary of state, professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary

 

“Patriotic Dissent packs a powerful punch in its slim volume. In his signature style, antiwar veteran-activist Danny Sjursen fuses experience, history, and philosophy in this plea for a patriotism paradigm shift. His rational yet passionate prose provides a timely echo of Dr. King’s insistence that we reject those ‘seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty.’”Ben Cohen, longtime activist and co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

 

“Patriotic Dissent is a scintillating and sobering account of the conditions that lead to wars, especially Americans’ near worship of the military and their mistaken willingness to leave wars to the generals instead of to all the people. Danny Sjursen has written an unforgettable and critical guide in helping Americans understand their military and why they should bring it back to civilian society.”

Tim Bakken, author of The Cost of Loyalty:Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the US Military

 

“Readers of Sjursen’s book…will find Patriotic Dissent to be an invaluable educational tool. It should be required reading in progressive study groups, high school and college history classes, and book clubs across the country.”

Jacobin

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Daniel A. Sjursen is a retired US Army Major and contributing editor at antiwar.com. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, the Nation, TomDispatch, the Huffington Post, and the Hill, among other publications. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He cohosts the progressive veterans’ podcast Fortress on a Hill. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet. Sjursen lives in Lawrence, Kansas.