Bloomberg News

IED Blows Off Soldier’s Buttocks: Lewis Lapham

June 30, 2012

Michael Stephenson

Michael Stephenson at his home in the West Village. Stephenson is the author of "The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle." Photographer: Michael Soluri/Crown Publishing/Random House Inc. via Bloomberg

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are being used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan with deadly effect. They are placed in everything from animal carcasses and soft-drink cans to utility poles.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

In one U.S. Humvee hit by an IED, the driver was penetrated by molten steel, killing him instantly. On exiting, the steel blew off the buttocks of the soldier sitting in the gun turret and blasted shards into another combatant’s head and chest.

Though gravely wounded, the third man survived.

Frustrated and helpless, soldiers long for old-fashioned battles: “If I have to die, let me die in a stand-up fight,” said one.

I spoke with Michael Stephenson, author of “The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle,” on the following topics:

1. Weapon Technology

2. Heroic Mythology

3. Trench Warfare

4. Exhilaration in Battle

5. Guerrillas

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

Muse highlights include NYC Weekend Best and theater and movie reviews.

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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