Bulletproof Vest is at once an introspective journey into the properties and precisions of a bulletproof vest on a molecular level and on the world stage. It is also an ode to living precariously, an open letter that defends the notion that life is worth the risk.
"Nothing's bulletproof," the salesman said. "The thing's only bullet resistant."
The New York Times journalist Kenneth R. Rosen had just purchased his first bulletproof vest and was headed off on assignment in Iraq. He was travelling into the city of Mosul when he came to realize that the idea of a bulletproof vest is more effective than the vest itself.
From its very inception, poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, as the chemical compound of Kevlar is known, was meant for tires. Its humble roots and applications are often lost to the colloquialism of the word, now synonymous with body armor, war zones and domestic terrorism. But in fact, Kevlar is used as a material in more than 200 applications, including tennis rackets, skis, and parachute lines. What Rosen learned through an intimate use of his bulletproof vest was that it acts as a metaphor for all the precautions we take toward digital, physical, and social security; at their most extreme, bulletproof vests represent a human desire to forge ahead.
“Kenneth R. Rosen, war-reporter, journalist, abyss-looker, intuiter of the human spirit, presents the materials of war, stitches them together in a fascinating story that shows no matter how tight and polymeric the jacket, the true dangers of war are the mental wounds that go straight to your head. His insights into war do what they can to protect us from those wounds — but like the vest, offer an imperfect protection. Thankfully, Rosen's words are near perfect and perfectly moving.
Nicole Walker, Author of Sustainability: A Love Story