Mike Sager

Books Reviews Mike Sager
Mike Sager

Veteran journalist on veterans and more

Mike Sager, writer-at-large for Esquire, and formerly a writer for GQ and Rolling Stone, is the Switzerland of reporters. No matter how heartbreaking, provocative or shocking the subject matter, Mr. Neutral coolly watches and writes. And the 11 pieces here require an even hand, as they deal largely with extremes.

Sager tells us about one of the world’s smartest men (by IQ, at least); one of the world’s fattest men; one of its greatest basketball players (Kobe Bryant); one of its many 10-bag-a-day heroin users. The wounded warriors of the title story are maimed and brain-injured Iraq veterans arriving home at a new re-entry facility run by the Marines. One warrior, Sager tells us, still has shrapnel working through his skin; when he turns over at night, it snags the sheets.

The most powerful story in this collection tells of inner-city teens in Philadelphia who raise and fight pit bulls. I read the piece three times in amazement—and I never, ever, want to read it again.

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