Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Generation Kill"

Under my little brother's direction, I read "Generation Kill," a 2004 book written by Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright, about the 1st Recon Marines who were at the tip of the spear in the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Steve, who enlisted in the Marines last year and is now training in the Marines Special Operations Command, said that the guys in his unit who have served in Iraq thought the book and the HBO miniseries are fairly accurate depictions of their mission.
Wright, who was embedded with the battalion for two months at the start of the war, tells of the confusion and misdirection that came to define their mission and the whole war.
I knew that the book would be disturbing, if for no other reason then I would get a peek into what my brother could be faced with in the coming months. I knew it would only make me angrier about Bush's war, and the complete quagmire it has put us and the Iraqi people in over the past six years. But I'm glad I read it.

Wright doesn't spare us any details about the civilian casualties he witnessed or the adolescent glee at which the Marines ripped apart buildings like they were playing "Grand Theft Auto". But he's careful not to paint them as one-dimensional, souless characters out to play with guns. He spent two months getting to know the unit and the command structure, and developed respect for the individuals and the sacrifices they were making as part of their call to duty. It's heartwarming to get a peak into the brotherhood the men share, and it's a relief to find that they don't follow their commanders blindly and that they question their actions and mourn for the loss of life on both sides.

This is definitely a good read for journalists covering the war and the toll it takes on the men fighting it. Anyone here is welcome to borrow my copy.