There is a stark message contained in Karl Marlantes' book: war is inevitable, a warrior class is a necessity, and its purpose is to kill and maim.
Because of these truths, how can society help combat veterans - who have experienced the guilt of taking their enemies' lives and the anguish and anger of seeing their comrades slain - ease their tortured psyches?
The author, a highly decorated former US marine who served in the Vietnamese jungles in 1969, readily admits to grappling with these emotions ever since his tour of duty.
Thus the book aims to analyse the moral questions surrounding warfare, while also helping him finally come to terms with the atrocities him and his platoon perpetrated during the heat of the battle.
It's by no means an easy read. His descriptions of his wartime experiences spare us none of the grisly horrors he witnessed, while his treatise on the ethics of war are occasionally overly scholarly in their arguments.
Nevertheless, as a new generation of soldiers face the tribulations of assimilating back into civilian life, studying this work could well help them assuage their mental turmoil when they finally return home.