Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military
Hectic read, absorbing, masterfully told. This is one writer I am going to follow from now on. Whatever you think of his style, you are not going to go bored reading his stories. I was happily surprised to notice his lack of arrogance -as one would expect to find from a reporter among this class of American heroes. The stars are the real soldiers, the military. Kaplan is there alright, but in the background.
I loved the chapters on Colombia and the Philippines. But everything was very vivid and exciting. You get to have a global sightseeing tour of American forces over the planet. You feel the humidity, you see the landscapes they see, taste the same food and live the same experiences, battlefield included.
The last chapter on Irak, Fallujah specifically was the best ending possible for this book. One can't help to identify oneself with the writer when, after the battle was ceasefired by political decision... "in Dubai. In the lobby, on the way to my room, I noticed a newstand. The front pages were all about Fallujah. I felt like a person at the center of a scandal that everybody was reading about, in which even the most accurate, balanced accounts were unconnected to what I had actually experienced and the marines I had experienced it all with. I felt deeply alienated. After I ate and showered and scrubbed my backpack, I didn't want to talk to anyone. All I wanted to do was write."
The author has a clear idea -and so depicts it- of American society:
"The soldiers and marines I encountered during months of travel with the military -whose parents and grandparents had fought in Vietnam- thought of that war as every bit as sanctified as the nation's others. As for those who saw Vietnam differently, they were generally from the more prosperous classes of Amreican society, classes which even back then were in the process of forging a global, cosmopolitan elite."
Want to know what the real world out there is like? Read this.