There are nearly three million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but for the vast majority of Americans, war is still an abstract concept.
Author Phil Klay— himself a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq— aims to bridge this gap in his acclaimed book "Redeployment."
It's a gripping collection of short stories from the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that brings the everyday experiences of soldiers and veterans into sharp focus.
Klay set out to write the book a couple of months after getting back from Iraq, he says, partly as a way to think through his own experience.
"I think everybody comes back from war with a lot of questions about what that was," Klay says. "So it was a process for me to try and get a handle of what I thought about these wars and what I thought about my changed relationship to America.”
Each of the stories in "Redeployment" are told from a different perspective, including a chaplain, an artilleryman, a Marine who collects remains and a foreign service officer.
"Everybody's experience is so different based on what they did, where they were, what time they were there," Klay says. "And I wanted to get at that range and have different perspectives, and hopefully perspectives that didn't necessarily meet."
Klay says he hopes that the book will help to close the knowledge gap between civilians and veterans about war, and hopefully encourage a conversation.
"Bridging that gap and getting to a place where you can actually have a really real conversation is sometimes a difficult, fraught, and can be a painful process,” he says.
But he says it's incredibly important conversation for Americans to have.
"The way that we talk about war, the things that we believe about it, the conversations we're having about war, determine what we accept from our leaders in terms of military policy," Klay says. "They also determine how we treat our veterans at home."