Army of One

Army of One

Six American Veterans After Iraq

An impressive account of the effect of war on the individual soldier, based on careful research and on personal encounters and extensive interviews with six US Army veterans.




Elisabeth Real

1st edition

, 2013

Text in English only


376 pages, 118 color illustrations

16 x 23 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-738-9


In Army Of One, photo journalist Elisabeth Real tells the story of six American veterans whose lives have been irreversibly altered by the war in Iraq. All but one of the veterans have been officially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). From 2006–13, Elisabeth Real photographed and interviewed these young men, trying to find out what they have been going through and how, in turn, the consequences of their combat experience have affected their families at home.

Elisabeth Real breaks down numbers and statistics and focuses on the individual soldier: the lone-standing “Army Of One”. The book’s title derives from the recruiting slogan used by the U.S. Army’s until 2006. Real’s project Army Of One refers to the possibilities that the military has to offer: Be all you can be, take your future and your life into your hands, and you will be as powerful as a whole army. Yet for many soldiers, it takes on the opposite meaning: You are a warrior on your own and the US Army does not care at all about you as an individual human being. Many of the soldiers suffering from PTSD are left alone entirely. After Iraq—a conflict that the American public gradually kept losing interest in—the veterans keep fighting a war that they may never win.

Autoren & Herausgeber

Elisabeth Real

 (*1979) is a freelance photographer based in Switzerland. She works for national and international magazines and clients, such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, The New York Times, Monocle and Zurich Insurance Group. She graduated from the University of Art and Design Zurich in 2005.


«Ein erschütterndes, grossartiges Buch.» Gerhard Mack, NZZ am Sonntag


«Die schrittweise Entzauberung dieser jungen Männer, die mit Illusionen von Heldentum oder aus traditionalistischem Verpflichtungsgefühl in den Kampf zogen und jeder auf seine Weise kaputt zurückkehrte, zeigt Real anhand der chronologisch aufgezeichneten Interviews und Fotografien auf nüchterne und wohl gerade deshalb so verstörende Art. Man fühlt mit ihnen, den Opfern eines, wie sie sich selber einig sind, sinnlosen Krieges. Und doch zeichnet Real auch auf, dass sie alle Täter waren – und manche von ihnen es jederzeit wieder werden könnten.» Sophie Rüesch, Nordwestschweiz