Salisbury Forum: Erik Edstrom, "WHAT DOES PATRIOTISM MEAN, ANYWAY?"

Event date: 
Friday, September 17, 2021 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
EST via Zoom

Erik EdstromUnamerican: A Soldier's Reckoning of Our Longest War by Erik Edstrom

Erik Edstrom, Afghan veteran, senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network, and author of Un-American: A Soldier's Reckoning of Our Longest War will explore the contentious and double-sided topic of "patriotism" and whether or not America's current brand of patriotism is serving us as a nation.


Erik Edstrom graduated from West Point in 2007. He was then deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as infantry platoon leader. Erik spent the remainder of his military service as the Presidential Escort Platoon Leader during the Obama administration. He is a graduate of U.S. Army Ranger school, was selected for the U.S. Special Forces (SFAS), and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. After the military, Erik went on to earn an MBA and Master of Science at Oxford University. He lives in Boston.

Staff Pick Badge
Un-American: A Soldier's Reckoning of Our Longest War Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635573749
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - May 19th, 2020

"Eloquent, devastating . . . packed with gimlet-eyed analysis — cultural, economic, historical — of how American life came to look the way it does . . . Edstrom’s keen observational powers encompass both the physical world and social nuance." —Los Angeles Review of Books

A manifesto about America’s unchallenged war machine, from an Afghanistan veteran and new kind of military hero.

Before engaging in war, Erik Edstrom asks us to imagine three, rarely imagined scenarios: First, imagine your own death. Second, imagine war from “the other side.” Third: Imagine what might have been if the war had never been fought. Pursuing these realities through his own combat experience, Erik reaches the unavoidable conclusion about America at war. But that realization came too late—the damage had been done.

Erik Edstrom grew up in suburban Massachusetts with an idealistic desire to make an impact, ultimately leading him to the gates of West Point. Five years later, he was deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry lieutenant. Throughout his military career, he confronted atrocities, buried his friends, wrestled with depression, and struggled with an understanding that the war he fought in, and the youth he traded to prepare for it, was in contribution to a bitter truth: The War on Terror is not just a tragedy, but a crime. The deeper tragedy is that our country lacks the courage and conviction to say so.

Un-American is a hybrid of social commentary and memoir that exposes how blind support for war exacerbates the problems it’s intended to resolve, devastates the people allegedly being helped, and diverts assets from far larger threats like climate change. Un-American is a revolutionary act, offering a blueprint for redressing America’s relationship with patriotism, the military, and military spending.