Nancy Sherman


REVIEWS FOR The untold war


—PARAMETERS, Chaplain (Colonel) David Reese,
Director, Ethical Development, US Army War College
Dr. Nancy Sherman’s The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers expertly elevates the examination with the complementary pairing of ancient Greek philosophy and modern psychology. This book fulfills its promise of revealing what Sherman describes as “the moral weight of war that individual soldiers carry on their shoulders and don’t usually talk about.” It is an unflinching look beyond the veil of modern warriors who try to reconstruct their ideals and their lives. The book is a worthy read by senior leaders interested in the “inner war and its subtle moral contours,” and those who desire a better understanding of the impact of the prolonged war on terror. read more

—The Boston Globe
For anyone seeking to understand “the inner war’’ soldiers fight on the battlefield and at home, Nancy’s Sherman’s book brilliantly maps soldiers’ dark inner landscapes. We can see the missing limbs, but Sherman exposes the deep trauma below the surface, the kind that keeps soldiers up at 3 a.m. with images that linger in the mind long after the bombs and guns have gone more

—New York Times
“The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers,” by Nancy Sherman, attempts, as its subtitle indicates, to expose the complexities of the soldier’s “inner war.” Sherman rightly construes it as a national “duty” to understand the soldier’s “healthy struggle . . . to remain alive to civilian sensibilities without losing the . . . steel and resilience” essential to military service and to facilitate healing of the psychic rifts war can cause. This is not a duty Americans have always been keen to embrace.
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A Must Read for Vets and Those Who Support Them
—Matthew Alexander, The Huffington Post
"One cannot overstate the importance of this book in furthering the cause of veterans." Read More

—Time Magazine 'Book pick of the week'
It's difficult to remain neutral when it comes to war. Mindful of that fact, Sherman takes pains to declare on the very first page of her new book that it is "not a political tract for or against a war." But the reader will nonetheless find much within to hate about armed conflict. It would be hard not to. Based on interviews with 40 soldiers, most of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Untold War tells tales of mangled limbs and shattered minds, like one about an idealistic West Point prof who went to Iraq and took his own life in disillusionment. Given Sherman's training in psychoanalysis and philosophy, it is not surprising that her prose can grow alarmingly academic at times. (Many will not care that "the distance between an Aristotelian and Stoic-inspired training for war is considerable.") Yet she successfully makes the case that, with an all-volunteer military, the public has averted its eyes from the psychic damage of our current wars. Says Sherman: "War's residue should not just be a soldier's private burden."

—Publishers Weekly 'Starred Review'

At a time when suicide rates among veterans is increasing sharply, this empathic examination of “the moral weight that soldiers carry on their shoulders” is essential reading. Sherman, a philosopher, ethicist, and psychoanalyst at Georgetown University, conducted extensive interviews with around 40 soldiers, in various stages of their careers, veterans of both the Iraq War and earlier conflicts. Through nuanced exploration of their powerful stories, Sherman makes the familiar case that soldiering becomes an identity not easily left behind when one returns to civilian life. The challenge is finding a moral self able to sustain the sensibilities of both the civilian and the warrior. That is difficult in cultures where the experiences of war and peace are divergent. The central desire and need for a soldier is to be strong. Anger, fear, revenge, guilt—these are also standard issue. How do men judge themselves, or contemplate being judged, for what they do and see? Experiencing war, Sherman says, requires compartmentalization, displacement, deferral until “soldiers find the safety and trust needed to express personal doubts and torments.” Sherman perceptively and accurately concludes that this cannot be “a private burden banned... from families and communities.”

—Kirkus Reviews
“Cogent …accessible and … illuminating inquiry into the psyche of our fighting men and women.”

—Military Times
"This book is essential to read for anyone who wants to understand the full cost of modern combat." read full review


Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of On Killing and On Combat
"A powerful insight into the "frontlines" of the personal battles inside the souls of individual warriors and of nations.  A wonderful addition to Sherman’s Stoic Warriors…Timely, powerful, and perceptive. Sherman is a warrior-wordsmith."

The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: 

“Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, and her own professional involvement with the military, Nancy Sherman has done a great service to soldier and civilian alike, shedding light on the inner-lives, -struggles, and -triumphs of these courageous individuals. This book powerfully reminds us that we, as a society, must do everything possible to better honor our veterans as they return home and adjust to civilian life. For this task, The Untold War is essential reading.”

Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars, Princeton University:
“Nancy Sherman listens to the stories that soldiers tell with great compassion, and writes about them with a piercing moral intelligence.  Her book is a critically important addition to the literature on war.” 

Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D., Brigadier General (Ret), U. S. Army: 
“Nancy Sherman has captured the searing truth that fills the souls of warriors, today and throughout modern history.  She tells the stories of men and women whose convictions, fears, and passions give meaning to both their experiences and the tough choices they have had to make on the field of battle. The Untold War should be read to glimpse what it truly means to go to war.”  

Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago, author of Frontiers of Justice:
 “Illuminating and deeply moving, Nancy Sherman's THE UNTOLD WAR explores the complex emotions involved in the lives of soldiers at war and their relationship to core moral values.  Especially in our country, which has chosen to separate the military life from the life of the average citizen, we all need the understanding Sherman's book offers.”

US Navy Commander Greg Parker
"Sherman, a philosopher and psychoanalyst, provides a window into the complicated inner moral struggles of the individual soldier and sheds light on the tapestry of individual wartime experience." read more