Monday, June 30, 2008

Generation Kill

Generation Kill, by Evan Wright
$10.20 in the Hansisgreat Gift Shop
ISBN: 978-0-425-22474-8
This outstanding piece of investigative journalism has recently been made into a mini-series on HBO. The author was embedded with a platoon of US Marines in Iraq, a likable group of young guys, and through their experiences he reports the situation from the point of view of the invading forces.
Apparently, at Normandy, a surprisingly high number of soldiers refused to fire their weapons even when facing direct enemy combat. Not these guys. Raised on rap music and Grand Theft Auto, these guys can't wait to kill some people. Born warriors.
They're not just thugs, however. One is recently married, hoping to father a son when he returns to the States. Another has wanted to be a Marine since he was a small boy, and saw one at the mall. This is not a team of lawless marauders, but a group of regular soldiers trying to do a good job over there.
They participated in the assault on Nasirayah, a Hussein-friendly city on the Euphrates River, completely destroyed by invasion forces. By the end of the assault, Nasirayah was nothing but smoldering ruins. 
In Al Hayy, the situation is even worse: Wright watches as rioters destroy a recently renovated water treatment plant, and witnesses soldiers who accidentally kill a small girl who was hiding in the backseat of her parents' car. Casualties of war, very sad.
This is a book of the very best sort: it informs, but with a cast of characters and a story to keep the information interesting. I learned a bit about modern warfare, and more about the state of affairs in Iraq. More enjoyable, though, was the camaraderie of a 
group of guys whom I found I'd 
love to share a beer with, in spite of their grisly work.
Was the invasion of Iraq necessary? Generation Kill doesn't answer that question, nor could any of the soldiers who were actually there, boots on the ground. This is not that kind of story. It's an insightful look into the eyes of the US military, and by proxy, into America's youth.
Filled with excitement, sensitivity, and at times tragedy as well; this is a great summer read for the military enthusiast in your life.

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