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03 June 2010


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Hmm I had read a few blurbs on this and it sounded interesting, but after this review I'm less sure. It does sound awful testosterone-soaked doesn't it... I'm still going to try to pick it up at some point, but I have to say it has moved down on my wish list. And Trained to Kill has moved up :)

Well, Amy, if you can stand it, I still think it's a good book to read. It is so hard for me to imagine the testosterone-soaked impressions I quoted, that it is good for me to read them and try and remember how some soldiers experience war. "Trained to Kill" is much more scholarly (and historical), while this one is much more emotional, so perhaps they should be read together.

It's odd, but I've seen a few of Junger's interviews for this book and the movie that he did (Restrepo), and he looks a little...PTSD. It's a little disturbing to hear, and I keep hoping I'm just reading a little too much into it.

I've got the book out now, but haven't read more than the first few paragraphs. Definitely evocative, but I don't know if I can read another one of these without it changing MY personality a bit.

Sadly, I don't think you're imagining it. I don't think you can even just report on war for as long as he has and not be a little affected. At one point he references the sounds of a particular weapon/incoming fire as reminding him of teakettles and subway brakes, when then freaked him out when he heard them outside of combat. I think he's definitely been affected. Also creepy, also sad.

I don't know that it's changed my personality, but it has made me give up all the more. If war's such a big thrill what can we offer any of the soldiers coming back? What could we offer to keep them here? How will we ever hope to stop it, if this is just such an ingrained human need and desire? Add the thrill to people's need to defend their territory, people, and property, and I just don't see how any of this stuff can ever end.

Oh my. Yup, I definitely can't read any more of these.

I will be reading this one shortly, as I just picked it up at the library.

On Junger, I hear he bonds with his subjects. Apparently he was quite broken up by his experience researching and writing the Perfect Storm, so I am not surprised this one worked him over as well.

This title is on my long list of to reads, but I wanted to tell you that I read "The Deserter's Tale" over Memorial Day weekend. I was going to pair it with "On Call in Hell," but I couldn't do two war memoirs back to back. Wow. Not only was the book interesting (thanks for the recommendation, C.R.), but it was also fascinating to hear people's reactions the book. Few people had any sympathy for Joshua Key who deserted the army after the our country's first seven months in Iraq. When I told people that he spent most nights ransacking the homes of civilians, they didn't even listen. And to tell you the truth, I had trouble at first, too. Key never rationalizes what he did except to say that what he and the other soldiers did in Iraq was morally wrong - that they were violating the human rights of civilians during war. Then I remembered that his experiences were before Abu Ghraib, and the army provides few opportunities for soldiers to question the morals and ethics of their duties. Add in the pro-war fervor, and Key and men & women like him were screwed.

Have you read "On Call in Head: A Doctor's Iraq War Story"?

Oh, Venta,
I'm so glad you read it. Whenever I mention it no one's ever heard of it, which is a crying shame. But the reactions to it make me very angry--how could people not believe he was ransacking homes? Where to people think insurgents hide, and how do they think you have to find them? Made sense to me. I guess I kind of figured that was continuously going on. What really shocked me about this book was how our armed services's recruiters take advantage of people's poverty by showing up at their trailer doors when boys turn 16 (they start early) and offering them food and basic health care. Disgusting.

Sadly, I wish I could believe that after Abu Ghraib ordinary soldiers had more of a say and a voice, but I'm pretty sure they don't. Don't ask don't tell seems to be the law of the military to me, and there's a reason things like My Lai and Abu Ghraib keep happening.

I have not read "On Call in Hell," but will add it to my long list. It will have to wait just a bit, for reasons stated earlier. But I'll get to it and let you know, I promise!

I just finished reading Mrs. Adams in Winter. A part of the story is the fear people feel when Napoleonic-era soldiers raid the villages to take everything of value, from food to furniture. Mrs. Adams gets into a dangerous situation herself and is rescued by an officer who keeps soldiers from the "Grand Army" from abusing her. The warping of soldiers and the brutalization of civilians has always been a part of war. Efforts to stop bullying always seem to fail. Really, there is no good future in war.

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