The author] entered the army as a private in May 1941, having been drafted on the same day he was informed of his doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University. He was discharged as a second lieutenant in October 1945, having been awarded a battlefield commission during fighting in France. [He] saw service in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany in a counter-espionage unit. Fourteen years after his discharge, [the author] began to reread his war journals and letters in an attempt to find some meaning in his wartime experiences. The result is [this book], a philosophical meditation on what warfare does to us and an examination of the reasons soldiers act as they do. [He] explains the attractions of battle - the adrenaline rush, the esprit de corps - and analyzes the many rationalizations made by combat troops to justify their actions. [At the end of the book,] he notes, "War reveals dimensions of human nature both above and below the acceptable standards for humanity." -Back cover.