Academic journal article Military Review

THROUGH THE CROSSHAIRS: A History of Snipers

Academic journal article Military Review

THROUGH THE CROSSHAIRS: A History of Snipers

Article excerpt

THROUGH THE CROSSHAIRS: A History of Snipers, Andy Dougan, Carroll & Graf, New York, 2005, 320 pages, $26.00.

Warfare in the 21st century is characterized more and more by its precision, lethality, and unconventional nature. The military sniper incorporates these qualities in his battlefield function and is perhaps the model warrior for this age.

Andy Dougan's book Through the Crosshairs: A History of Snipers begins with the development of missile weapons in prehistoric times, which ultimately led to firearms and to the creation of the light infantry sharpshooter.

One original aspect of the book is Dougan's discussion of the sniper's image in military society. On one side we find him as an antihero, loathed by his normal infantry comrades as almost a murderer and perceived as "not playing fair." Yet, when properly employed, he often saves the lives of his condemning brothers-in-arms.

On the other side, there is an idealized view of him as a solitary figure amidst the mass carnage of war. His battle is that of the single marksman against his victim. The sniper provides a brutal poetry within the chaos of the battlefield: one shot, one kill. The reality probably lies somewhere between these extremes.

Dougan uses Ernest Hemingway's style: his prose is direct, easy to read, and noncomplex, but it lacks foreign-language sources on snipers. …

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