Monday, September 1, 2008

Recent Reading: Evan Wright's 'Generation Kill'

We admit it: We didn't know about Generation Kill until HBO began advertising its seven-part miniseries on this book, an account of one Marine unit's adventures during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

We did catch some of the miniseries, however, which piqued our interest in Evan Wright's 2004 book. Wright was embedded with the Second Platoon of the Marine First Recon Battalion, where he rode in the back seat of a Humvee, where he got a grunt's eye view of combat.

It's a gripping narrative, which demonstrates the bravery of the Marines and shining a critical light on their macho posturing, outlandish profanity, as well as the confusion and stupidity of combat.

The enlisted Marines are a motley lot and not exactly choirboys, but they come off well in Wright's book because of their absolute dedication to each other and to the job at hand.

Wright, covering the invasion for Rolling Stone, comes to admire the Marines as well. In a "New Afterword" added to the original manuscript, Wright concludes:
Five years into the war, I am not always confident most American fully appreciate the caliber of the people fighting for them, the sacrifices they have made, and the sacrifices they continue to make.
Well put. It's clear that Americans have not been asked to sacrifice for this war. In the aftermath of September 11, remember, President Bush first asked that we go shopping!

The story in Generation Kill isn't always pretty or pleasant, but it is a powerful reminder to all of all us comfortable civilians that the young men and women we sent to war deserve our admiration and our thanks.

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