Jerad W. Alexander has written for several publications, including Esquire, Rolling Stone, and The Nation. He holds an MFA in literary reportage from the New York University Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism. From 1998 to 2006, he served as a U.S. Marine, deploying to the Mediterranean, East Africa, and Iraq. To many outsiders, joining the military can be a path out of a hard life, and an opportunity to acquire vocational training, a college scholarship, or perhaps a patriotic career. For Alexander, raised on war and masculine fantasies of American heroism and patriotism, enlisting was a way of life. As soon as he was able, he joined the Marines. After all, his parents, stepfather, and grandparents served, and he grew up on American military bases around the world. In his debut work Volunteers: Growing Up in the Forever War (Algonquin Books), Alexander writes of his experience in Iraq, fighting in the same war his parents had fought before him, a war in which our country is still embroiled today. As he takes another look at what he’d always accepted on faith, some questions come in to focus: Is America, in fact, exceptional? Are the “bad guys” easy to identify? And, most importantly, are our causes always just?