Book Notes: Hedging Your Bets
As readers here may know, I have a close relative in the Army, now in Iraq. This week he was transferred from Mosul to Baghdad. (His photos from Mosul can be found here - and the last one on the page shows where he's working right now, one of the palaces in the Green Zone.) A graduate of West Point, he an avid reader. A year or more ago his Christmas list included a book by Christopher Hedges – "War is the Force that Gives Us Meaning" – so I found that, gift-wrapped it, and gave it to him. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
He was surprised by it. Hedges has been a war reporter for fifteen years and doesn't much like what he saw – or he liked it too much, as he explains.
The book puzzled my Army relative.
Then there's this other Hedges book - "What Every Person Should Know About War" (2003) – and I don't think I'll send him that now.
Here's Hedges this month - "We are losing the war in Iraq. We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are pitiless to others weaker than ourselves. We have lost sight of our democratic ideals."
That's from this:
War: Realities and Myths
June 11, 2005, antiwar.com
Key points (with my emphases) -
My relative serving in Baghdad, has, of course, read Thucydides. But I don't think I’ll send him this.
From our Australian friend in Paris –
Ah, yes, and the meek shall inherit the earth? Or carry the day? The next task for the evangelical pro-war Christian right? Proof that Jesus may have SAID that, but he didn't MEAN that. He was a kick-ass kind of guy.
Making this implicitly a holy war may have been a bad idea, and my relative isn't buying into that part of it, as far as I know. Still, he believes in what he is doing, and that what he is doing is good. And maybe it is.
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, asks a logical question – where did my relative hear about this first Hedges book, and what did I think he expected it to be?
What did I think he had expected the book to be? Well, when I did some net surfing to see who had it in stock - it was sold out at a lot of stores - I read the reviews. (Actually I had known what the book was about - a war reporter confessing he liked war too much.) I really did wonder why he wanted this one. Frankly, I think he liked the title. He has a habit of skimming lists of new military books. And I figured it would be good for him to read this.
His only comment a few weeks later - "That wasn't what I thought it was."
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta – "No kidding, indeed, you tricky SOB!"
Hey, no one was ever harmed by reading a book, as they say. Folks should read everything on all sides. And too, when possible, you should get your relatives what they ask for on their Christmas lists.