"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Books on the Warrior Culture

Speaking of men who take risks as opposed to "men" who crave certainty and find the loss of their pensions "scary" (see below), my friend Frank suggested to me the book Horse Soldiers, which is a really cool book about the Special Forces soldiers who entered Afghanistan in the weeks after 9/11 and, riding horses into battle like latter-day John Waynes, directed American air power using GPS devices (interestingly, not Army issue -- they left so soon after 9/11 that they had to buy their hand-held GPS units at an outdoor store near Fort Campbell, KY), joined up with the "armies" of tribal leaders Atta and Dostum collectively known as the Northern Alliance, and took down the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies at the stronghold city of Mazar-i Sharif, leading to the collapse of the Taliban government.   It's a remarkable story -- but how exactly is it that Hollywood hasn't made a movie of this yet, but finds time to put out Rendition and Lambs for Lions?   Politics in Hollywood apparently trumps good business, because there's no way a movie about Horse Soldiers wouldn't be a hit.  

On a roll reading about American servicemen, I also picked up in the airport yesterday a book about the surge in Iraq told through the eyes of a single American battalion, the 2-16, posted to Baghdad's toughest section during the surge.   It's called The Good Soldiers, and it's a harrowing story so far, told by a very good writer, David Finkel.

Both highly recommended.  

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