"Paying with Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran"

May 12, 2015

On this edition of ST, we offer an interesting interview with John M. Kinder, an assistant professor of American studies and history at Oklahoma State University. Professor Kinder tells us about his well-regarded first book, an academic study just out from the University of Chicago Press called "Paying with Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran." In this volume, as was noted by Publishers Weekly, "Kinder mixes in sketches of well-known disabled veterans -- including Harold Russell (WWII), Ron Kovic (the Vietnam War), and Tammy Duckworth (the Iraq War) -- with bigger-picture issues involving the social and political impacts of veterans' disabilities. It’s a well-written...tome that illuminates the long-lasting human legacy of America's wars." And further, per the Washington Independent Review of Books: "[This is] an unflinching look at the true cost of battlefield bloodshed.... The sheer excellence of the writing and Kinder’s reliance on factual vignettes...give the text a sensuous immediacy. Kinder shies away from war pornography, but he refuses to gloss over the gruesome effects of battle.... I was left at the end of 'Paying with Their Bodies' with the gnawing question implicit in the book: Is it worth it? What have we gained by our wars that counterbalances the monstrous death and disfigurement inflicted? At what point do war's dividends of destroyed bodies and minds outweigh the gains? Kinder leaves us to answer these questions for ourselves."