Elk River Arts & Lectures will host investigative journalist Joshua Phillips for a reading from his book, None of Us Were Like This Before: American Soldiers and Torture, and a visit with local high school students on Thursday, May 1.
“Based on firsthand reporting from the Middle East, as well as interviews with soldiers, their families and friends, military officials, and the victims of torture, None of Us Were Like This Before reveals how soldiers, senior officials, and the U.S. public came to believe that torture was both effective and necessary,” Phillips writes. “The book illustrates that the damaging legacy of torture is not only borne by the detainees, but also by American soldiers and the country to which they’ve returned.”
The Military Review writes that Phillips’ book “will endure as war literature… It should also be essential reading for foreign policy makers, military historians, mental health professionals, military policemen, and interrogators.” The Foreign Policy blog The Best Defense named the books as one of the ten best on the subject of interrogation. Secretary of State John Kerry praises Phillips’ work as “a deeply personal story of a generation of American soldiers plunged into conflict after September 11. Joshua Phillips tells these brave Americans’ stories with compassion and vivid detail. None of Us Were Like This Before reminds us why, on some bedrock issues of American values, there should never be any room for compromise.”
Phillips has reported from Asia and the Middle East, with his work appearing in the Washington Post, Newsweek, Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, and the Atlanta Journal–Constitution, among other publications. His radio features have been broadcast on NPR and the BBC. In 2009, Phillips received the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and the Newspaper Guild’s Heywood Broun Award of Substantial Distinction for his American Radio Works documentary “What Killed Sergeant Gray.”
Phillips will visit with Park High School students on Thursday, May 1, then give a public reading that evening at Elk River Books’ new location, 120 N. Main (formerly Chatham Fine Art) at 7 p.m. The reading is free, and will be followed by a reception and signing. The events are co-sponsored by the Murray Hotel and Elk River Books.
Elk River Arts & Lectures is a non-profit (501c3 status pending) organization that seeks to bring writers to Livingston for free public readings, and also to provide opportunities for those writers to interact with local public school students. Last fall, ERAL lecturers spoke to and worked with more than 250 Park High students.