Over There

The Universal Allure of War

How the enhanced emotional experience of combat takes hold in conflict zones. 

Slate has partnered with Brooklyn Brewery and RISC to bring its hit war correspondent interview series to our readers. In this special sixth installment, Sebastian Junger—founder of RISC, and a best-selling author and journalist—sits down with Elliott Ackerman (author, Green on Blue), Jennifer Percy (author, Demon Camp), and Peter van Agtmael (photojournalist and author, Disco Night Sept. 11).

“I do acknowledge the difference, but I actually think there’s a lot more similarity than people often recognize,” says Elliott Ackerman in the clip above. That statement—a response to a question about the difference in emotional experiences between journalists in conflict zones, who can leave the front, and soldiers, who cannot—sheds some light on an uncomfortable truth: The seductiveness of war is often the same for all those who seek it, whether they carry a camera, a pen, or an M16. “It’s why war continues to be so seductive,” says Peter van Agtmael of combat’s allure. “Underpinning any kind of demonic and depraved war story is elements of this kind of triumph.”

The video above contains strong language.