Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Quote of the day: Haldeman’s ‘Forever War’ on the vibe of a war against aliens

I read The Forever War over the weekend, and enjoyed it, even though I am not at all a science fiction fan. This line in particular struck me: … the enemy was a curious organism only vaguely understood, more often the subject of cartoons than nightmares. The main effect of the war on the homefront ...

myyorgda/flickr
myyorgda/flickr
myyorgda/flickr

I read The Forever War over the weekend, and enjoyed it, even though I am not at all a science fiction fan. This line in particular struck me:

... the enemy was a curious organism only vaguely understood, more often the subject of cartoons than nightmares. The main effect of the war on the homefront was economic, unemotional…" (131)

Of course, in the book the enemy turns out to be not quite what the earthlings thought. By contrast, I think we have a pretty good idea of what al Qaeda is about. We are getting so accustomed to it that the bombing in Istanbul and the church massacre in Baghdad didn't particularly seem to make big news here.

I read The Forever War over the weekend, and enjoyed it, even though I am not at all a science fiction fan. This line in particular struck me:

… the enemy was a curious organism only vaguely understood, more often the subject of cartoons than nightmares. The main effect of the war on the homefront was economic, unemotional…" (131)

Of course, in the book the enemy turns out to be not quite what the earthlings thought. By contrast, I think we have a pretty good idea of what al Qaeda is about. We are getting so accustomed to it that the bombing in Istanbul and the church massacre in Baghdad didn’t particularly seem to make big news here.

Weird fiction note: I was also surprised to see that the love interest in Haldeman’s book has the same given name and family name as the author’s real wife. I think that is the first time I’ve seen that.

The novel also interested me in its representation of the passage of time. When I wrote a novel, I found handling time unexpectedly difficult. It also reminded me of Iraq in 2003-05, where I remember watching our bureau chief age before our eyes. We used to joke that an Iraq year was a like a dog year — between the fear and stress, the horrendous climate, the hours worked, and the alcohol, you aged seven years for every one you spent there. I remember one night watching a Danish reporter have two glasses of wine before dinner, and then kill a whole bottle of vodka with her meal.

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. Twitter: @tomricks1

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