The BD bookshelf: ‘Senator’s Son,’ the best novel so far about the war in Iraq
First, thanks to whoever it was who arranged to send this novel to me. I have forgotten who it was, which is my fault for reading hundreds of e-mails every day. I searched my e-mail file and couldn’t find the exchange about it. But I appreciate it. Senator’s Son is indeed the best novel I ...
First, thanks to whoever it was who arranged to send this novel to me. I have forgotten who it was, which is my fault for reading hundreds of e-mails every day. I searched my e-mail file and couldn't find the exchange about it. But I appreciate it.
First, thanks to whoever it was who arranged to send this novel to me. I have forgotten who it was, which is my fault for reading hundreds of e-mails every day. I searched my e-mail file and couldn’t find the exchange about it. But I appreciate it.
Senator’s Son is indeed the best novel I have read about the wars in Iraq (or in Afghanistan). It also has gotten a lot cheaper on Amazon, so you might as well buy it.
In the beginning the book reminded me a lot of The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa, by Michael Burgoyne and Albert Marckwadt, two Army officers. That is, it worked better as an instructive parable than as a novel. I have no doubt that everything pretty much happened as he tells it–but that makes it more a diary than a story.
But as I got deeper into it, the story began to grow. It still had the feeling of a parable, but that’s not all bad. The author had a passion to convey a message, and he does so.
Here are some of the passages that struck me. This first one struck me because it captures a peculiarity of this war-that is, it would not have been written about Korea or Vietnam:
He observed the man through his scope.
"He appears to have two small girls with him holding his hands. He also does not appear to have Down’s syndrome," said the corporal.
Cash thought about the Marine’s bizarre report. The enemy frequently used disabled people as suicide bombers. The Marines were tense about people with mental handicaps and always looked for them.
Tom again: This next passage, the thoughts of a wounded Marine back home, reminded me of a recent post we had here by "A Marine Sniper" titled "You can go strangle yourself with that yellow ribbon":
These people are indifferent. In World War I and World War II, the Greatest Generation, the people cared . . . . In Vietnam, the people cared. They cared enough to riot. They demanded the troops come home. They protested. . . .
Now you’ve got my generation’s situation. A small disproportionate amount of people carry the burden and the majority is apathetic. . . . You know what, unless to want to sit down and buy me a beer and pay attention to what is going on in the world, next time don’t thank me.
Tom third: The next selection could have been written about any war. Like the previous ones, it rings true to me.
Whenever a mission was out, the command post took on the tone of a surgical operating room. The feeling in the room was more somber and serious than any church service Cash had ever attended.
Tom final: In this last excerpt, from near the end, a Golf Company Marine lieutenant nicknamed "Bama," who had been skeptical about counterinsurgency, is briefing his replacements:
"You’ve got to focus on them people," explained Bama to the new Ramadi Marines.
The new unit had come to replace Golf.
"And the district council meetings, they’re important. I’m telling y’all that’s how to win! Focus on the people; get in with the Iraqi Police and treat them like people. The guns on the post won’t keep you safe, your relationships will…
The green lieutenant wrote in his book, "Focus on the people." The sergeant wrote in his book, "Golf lieutenant is off his rocker."
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