Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts
A fast paced, straight-forward, honest talk on the state of the American military forces spread all over the world, updated until late 2006. Filled with lively analysis and real soldiers' opinions on their reasons for fighting and their viewpoints on country, freedom and life in general. Soldiers' talk and respectful, brilliant on the ground witness by Kaplan make this book -and his previous one- gems of contemporary journalism.
Humor: “I know where heaven is and it's Lithuania”, “The women are beautiful, pagan, with a practical view towards sex. Who says communism was bad? You're working three levels of advantages: you're a foreign male, you're a rich, exotic American, and their men are a bunch of drunken, criminal slobs.”
Humor with a twist of un-PCness from a soldier who had worked in the Texan state prison: “The death row inmates were easy to deal with -they didn't want to mess up their appeals by attacking a guard. I looked at their case files, though. I'll tell you something: they deserved to die. Texas doesn't bullshit, it executes.”
Here is the real people's talk, not the media-filtered PC babble and elitist preaching of the millionaire liberals. A tour of the world that pampered youths in America should read so they could learn to love their hated America in comparison with other countries like: “Thai mafias are disciplined. They provide some order and useful intelligence. In the Philippines the government is the mafia, and a poorly run one.”, “The corruption here, they all agreed, was a perfect fit with China's, whose own criminal networks couldn't wait to extract Filipino girls for prostitution and set up local methamphetamine rings.”
A sensible soldier talks: “I married a liberal, but I'm going to take her back to North Carolina, teach her how to shoot, and make a good Republican out of her.”, “There were nods of approval throughout the tent.”.
And the Iraqis also talk: “I like your soldiers. They are poor, simple people. The Army was the only opportunity they had. I can tell that by looking at them. In a way, they are in the same boat as us. They mean well, but what can they do?”
Another way -the Iraqi way- to look at Abu Ghraib: “If you are so serious about security, why did you Americans release prisoners from Abu Ghraib?”, “Here the words (Abu Ghraib) meant American weakness and lack of resolve, not human rights violations.”
Fairness of the liberal (in Europe it means Socialist) media, you say?: “Army Sgt. 1st class Paul Ray Smith of Tampa, Florida … awarded posthumously … the first Medal of honor in the Global War on Terrorism had drawn only 90 media mentions. By comparison, there had been 4,677 media mentions of the supposed Koran abuse at Guantánamo Bay”, etc.
And much, much more. A juicy analysis all through. And Kagan can write. He can't write a boring page. And everything calmly, never getting our of tone. Pure journalism is letting the facts and the people do the talk and just bring the picture into scope, not out of scope.