An honest reckoning with the war on terror, masculinity, and the violence of American hegemony abroad, at home, and on the psyche, from a veteran whose convictions came undone
When Lyle Jeremy Rubin first arrived at Marine Officer Candidates School, he was convinced that the “war on terror” was necessary to national security. He also subscribed to a strict code of manhood that military service conjured and perpetuated. Then he began to train and his worldview shattered. Honorably discharged five years later, Rubin returned to the United States with none of his beliefs, about himself or his country, intact.
In Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body, Rubin narrates his own undoing, the profound disillusionment that took hold of him on bases in the U.S. and Afghanistan. He both examines his own failings as a participant in a prescribed masculinity and the failings of American empire, examining the racialized and class hierarchies and culture of conquest that constitute the machinery of U.S. imperialism. The result is a searing analysis and the story of one man’s personal and political conversion, told in beautiful prose by an essayist, historian, and veteran transformed.
Lyle Jeremy Rubin is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who writes about capitalism and U.S. empire. He has a doctorate in history from the University of Rochester and has contributed to a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Raritan, and n+1. When he is not working or reading, he likes to pay attention to the birds.