Published: November 2005

War Letters

Woman Picture

War Letters: The Lives Behind a Lines

Decades of correspondence between soldiers and their loved ones back home offers a poignant view of war.

By Andrew Carroll
Photograph by Maggie Steber

"Why letters?" a young Iraqi man named Ammar asked when I told him I was traveling the world in search of wartime correspondence.

We met while I was waiting for a ride to the Baghdad airport, and somewhat rushed, I replied that letters written by those who have experienced war firsthand describe it with unrivaled intensity and intimacy.

Ammar was not convinced. "My brother fought against the Americans in 1991," he said. "He sent letters home, but no Iraqi soldiers could say how they truly felt. I am not sure how such letters could be of much value to you."

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