Monday, March 16, 2009

Generation Kill - Some Issues

I picked up a copy of 'Generation Kill' at the thrift store the other day.

Generation Kill is a 2004 book written by Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright chronicling his experience as an embedded reporter with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion‎ of the United States Marine Corps during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His account of life with the Marines was originally published as a three-part series in Rolling Stone in the fall of 2003. "The Killer Elite", the first of these articles, went on to win a National Magazine Award for Excellence in Reporting in 2004. [1]

Problem - because he focuses on the Lance Corporal war he misses the grand sweep - even when he spends a few paragraphs setting the action in context it's from the Lance Corporal point of view.  This is a waste, in my opinion and the book suffers for it.   Heck, forget the grand sweep of the campaign - more than a few paragraphs on the how and the why of just I MEF's operations would have been fine.

Maybe he could have channeled the ghost of Cornelius Ryan for the job: if he had he would have avoided a lot of what irks me about the book.

Like this: Reporting that FLIR stands for Forward Looking Infrared Radar.  Or that Second Marine Division is based on South Carolina.  Calling an AK-47 a machine-gun.  Describing mortars as bombs launched with rockets.  That a bit of blown-up tank flew hundreds of kilometers and clonked a guy on the head.

I could not go for more than a few pages without finding something like that.  And everytime I did a little voice asked me if I could really trust the rest of what he was reporting on.

An A for effort: driving in HMMWV in Iraq with those guys took a lot of balls.  C- for execution.

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