writing about war

Flickr_-_The_U.S._Army_-_Colorful_Afghan_horizon-600x399Phil Klay at The American Scholar:

From the Iliad to Generation Kill, from the satire of Catch-22 to the hagiography of The Greatest Generation, we have an abundance of war stories throughout literature to help us make sense of the past decade, and Samet proves herself adept at navigating between the truths and falsehoods of the narratives we choose to tell ourselves about war. Part literary criticism, part intellectual memoir, and part reportage of the struggles, successes, and in two cases the deaths of her former students, No Man’s Land is a moving, insightful, and refreshingly iconoclastic guide toward a more nuanced understanding of America and the military that fights for it.

Samet divides her book into three long essays that explore the challenges of homecoming, the paradoxes of preparing for war, and her ultimate vision of the virtues necessary for the modern military leader—each smoothly incorporating literature, sociology, analyses of political culture, and the reflections of her former students. Her breakdown of homecomings, for example, takes us through the appeal that motorcycles hold for veterans, T. E. Lawrence’s love-hate relationship with his own legend, Dante’s and Tennyson’s decision to send Ulysses away again from Ithaca to the thrill of the open sea, comments by political and military leaders from George Washington to Admiral Mike Mullen on the responsibilities soldiers have toward their own citizenship, and a number of other examples and texts.

more here.