March 11th, 2009

New Start

It's been a while since the last entry.  Nothing particularly special about that, no special reason or anything like that.  It's just not been the thing most on my mind.  But I should probably come back to it.  This time maybe I'll keep going for longer.
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Generation Kill

There's something about war reporting that is unusually interesting.  The 'embedding' idea was something that the US military messed up in Kuwait and the Balkans in the 90's, so the world's media didn't trust it for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  This lead to Chris Ayres, the Times' Hollywood fluff correspondent, being embedded with a US Marine Artillery unit.  His book, War Reporting for Cowards, was my top book of a few years ago.

Evan Wright, a Rolling Stone journalist who had previously worked on the Hustler porn magazine.  He was embedded for 3 weeks with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the US Marines.  As such, he often rode in a Humvee at the head of the American advance.  His reports, and subsequent book have been described as insightful and shocking.  The title, Generation Kill, refers to the youth of 1st Recon's soldiers.

In 2008, HBO dramatised the book as a seven-part TV series, in a similar style to Band of Brothers in 2000.  The series has just aired in the UK on the FX digital channel, and has been an eye-opener.  The idea of portraying real people, some of whom are still serving soldiers is quite novel.  It has  different level of responsibility from even dealing with retired soldiers in a film such as Tumbledown.  In particular, the portrayal of Tromley, Hasser and other soldiers involved in civillian shootings was sensitive, within the context of the darkly comic atmosphere of the piece.

That darkly comic aspect is something unavoidable in any war story.  From the trench newspapers of the Great War, to Alan Whicker's accounts of Italy in World War 2, to PJ O'Rourke's Give War a Chance, humour and conflict go hand in hand, with humour helping to balance out the daily horror of violence.

More later.
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Quotes this week

Peter, regarding my being in therapy: "Well, it's about fucking time!"

Ludwig, regarding Dario's espresso: "What's the point of drinking this?  Just inject it into your eyeball or something."

Neil, referring to Ludwig and Dario: "Where did the axis powers get to?"

The most excellent Mark Twain: "Heaven for climate, Hell for company."

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