Best Defense

Nate Fick: the Kerouac of our time?

When I spoke at Harvard earlier this week I was struck that in conversations, several undergraduates cited Nathaniel Fick’s book One Bullet Away not just as a book they had read, but as a work that had changed how they think about what to do with their lives. They seem to have been influenced by ...

onno de wit/flickr
onno de wit/flickr

When I spoke at Harvard earlier this week I was struck that in conversations, several undergraduates cited Nathaniel Fick’s book One Bullet Away not just as a book they had read, but as a work that had changed how they think about what to do with their lives. They seem to have been influenced by it the way Ivy Leaguers in the 1960s were influenced by Kerouac’s On the Road — sort of, “if I were really cool, that’s what I would be doing.” I suspect the new direction is heavily affected by the fact that today’s freshmen have spent their entire conscious lives under the shadow of 9/11.

I guess this shift makes Quantico the San Francisco of our time, and OCS and TBS its Buddhist monasteries. And my other boss, John Nagl, the new Allen Ginsberg. Just imagine him with a big old beard.

I see the best minds of my generation studying counterinsurgency . . .  

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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