Academic journal article Military Review

Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II

Academic journal article Military Review

Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II

Article excerpt

INSTRUCTIONS FOR AMERICAN SERVICEMEN IN IRAQ DURING WORLD WAR II, John A. Nagl (foreword), University of Chicago Press, IL, 2007, 64 pages, $10.00.

In this reprint of the War and Navy departments' World War II handbook for wartime service in Iraq (1943), John Nagl's foreword opens with an apt metaphor: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes." Men have long pondered the seemingly recurring character of history, with the sagest postulations coming from those few-such as Nagl-who recognize the enduring nature of mankind as the genesis of those echoes in time.

Readers will appreciate Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II for its colloquial writing and commonsense approach to the social and cultural niceties of conducting operations among a foreign people. Erudite counsel on soldierly generosity ("Don't offer Moslems alcoholic drinks.") and promiscuity ("Prostitutes do not walk the streets but live in special quarters of the city.") is quite unique to the period and unlikely to be found in contemporary military cultural guides. However, Instructions isn't so much a reflection on times gone by as a gentle reminder of man's inherent ability to discount the often subtle echoes of history.

In a region of the world where little of essence has changed in hundreds of years, Instructions is still cogent today. …

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