In this long review of Sherman's Stoic Warriors,
the insights of the reviewer seem much more relevant than those of the book, especially regarding our culture losing its capability to fight. In both cases, however, I am shocked that neither the reviewer nor the author seems to address the central issue regarding emotions in battle: their effect on decision-making.
In competitive situations, all soldiers, at every level, have to constantly deal with the most primitive of instincts: the flight or fight response. They struggle with this response in an environment where every decision, even those about things as simple and random as turning right or left, can mean the difference between life and death. Military training, in all its forms, from physical training to training in using our rules,is designed to reduce the emotional stress on people who must constantly make decisions that have life-and-death consequences in environments that are inherently chaotic.
Sherman's book (I keep wondering what a book about military stoicism by General William Tecumseh Sherman would have read like) seems to evaluate the emotional responses of soldiers from the perspective of those immersed in the viritual reality of popular media culture. James McCormick, the reviewer, starts with from the perspective of popular culture but is able to bring in a broader historical and culture perspective. However, neither seems to understand the basic and necessary perspective of the soldier in battle toward emotional decisions: they can get you killed.