Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body, by Lyle Jeremy Rubin

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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. 

Praise for Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body

“This is not your ordinary military memoir. It is not often that one experiences a truly original mind, a way of thinking combined with literary skill and grounded in hard learned humility, but that is Lyle Jeremy Rubin on his path from acting as an instrument of empire to deconstructing it and understanding the true meaning of freedom, community, and ethics. Never has a takedown of militarism, capitalism, and empire been more powerful and persuasive.”—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

“An instant classic of antiwar literature, Rubin’s stunning coming-of-age story as a US Marine is an absorbing look at how imperial masculinity is made through personal experience and psychic transformation. But the book doubles as a political reflection on how to achieve a critical perspective on our times in a forgetful country. This is a must-read—especially for Americans who rely on the service of others without owning the damaging results.”—Samuel Moyn

“Few people have traced the connections between masculinity, American empire, and the ailments of our republic with as much unflinching grace as Rubin. Give this book to the angry young men in your life.”—Matthieu Aikins


304 pages.

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