WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Articles from Vol. 26, 2014

31 North 64 East
April, 2012Third in a stack of six men lined up on the shoot house entry door. Two PJs in front of me, three behind, M4S ready. I awaited the squeeze from the man behind; a squeeze I'll pass to the shoulder in front. A squeeze to release us into a room...
A Bridge to Nowhere
It was a few weeks after General Patraues canceled Echo Company's suicide mission. I thought about what happened while I sat on post staring at a dozen decrepit buildings and a parking lot. In Baghdad the Mahdi Army had shot rockets from a borough nicknamed...
A Broader Scope
In the spring of ion, the Arab League met in Baghdad, Iraq. The streets were clear and broad, freshly renovated buildings glimmered in the still sunshine, and the rubble of war disappeared from view as VIPs, diplomats, and heads-of-state from twenty-two...
Afghanistan Moon
Tonight I reacquaint myself with it;the round-faced whispererwho speaks a languageI never learned.The first time bulletslanded inchesfrom my helmet,and spat sand in my face,I looked to heaven, seeking angels,and instead saw the moonwith distended eyes...
A Jew Goes to Berlin
I spent the first part of my childhood-the years from 1940 to 1946-among Germans. I spoke German. My playmates were German. I went to a German kindergarten, and it was there that I learned my alphabet, in German. I sang German songs.I still remember...
A Sliver of Blue
The iPod in the lead humvee played nothing but Irish music that morning. The play list was organized by my lieutenant, Dan Kingsley. He sat in the passenger seat. Kingsley was a goofball with a spot-on Jerry Lee Lewis impersonation. He was built like...
A Woman at War
I try to throw bitsand pieces of me awaybut I float back, hoveringfirst above my headlike a halo rusted andelongated like a child'sbent hula hoop, then about my neckdog tags silently bark,choking me,into the empty space.I try not to pass outor time with...
Blackwater Bridge
The day after the celebration on the bridge,Tahir follows the other schoolboysto the spot where the Americans burned.Black hollows pock the road near the entranceand the air smells like spoiled lamb and sour chai.They chase each other through skeletonsof...
Burying the War Dead
Being wearied with burying,he came to his house and cast himself downby the wall and slept.- Tobias 2:10One day, someone who did not soldierwill name this war.Annalists will estimate the dead,irrational numbersrecorded for historians to argue.Now, I...
By the Aqueduct
Hey. It's me," Private Hawkins said resentfully, sort of hiding his face with the phone. He glanced back at the line of soldiers waiting and knew he JL JL· wouldn't have more than the ten minute maximum for the call."Happy birthday," said Michelle."Thanks,...
Deploying the Dead: Combat Photography, Death and the Second World War in the USA and the Soviet Union
As Susan Sontag has noted, 'Ever since cameras were invented in 1839, photography has kept company with death' (Sontag, 2003: 24). It has done so, principally, by taking its place on the world's battlefields and, from the US Civil War onwards, bringing...
Eight Turners
1Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus. The Triumphal Bridge and the Palace of the Caesars Restored.Moonrise, full moon. The sun, not quite yet set,Throws thwart shadows on the Triumphal Bridge,Yellows, with late glare, on the...
Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War
Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War. Paul Kennedy. New York: Random House, 2013. $30.00, hardcover, 436 pp.Perhaps no event in world history has been more thoroughly covered than the Second World War....
Excerpts from the Memoir of Tran Van Thuy
In 2013, a memoir by the well-known documentary filmmaker Tr?n V?n Th?y was published in Vietnam, with the title Chuy?n Ngh? c?a Th?y: rendered in English as The Life and Adventures of Tr?n V?n Th?y: the Story of a Filmmaker. The memoir, co-written by...
Fayetteville
-for Bruce Weigl... I close my eyes and see the girlrunning from her village, napalmstuck to her dress like jelly,her hands reaching for the no onewho waits in waves of heat before her.- "Song of Napalm," Bruce WeiglHurtling through the endless shroudedgauntlet...
Fresh Violence
Detroit Metro, the black jumbotronflat and ignoredmothers walk alonetheir children behind trippingtrying to catch uppilots and attendants, black leather briefcasesmen talking loud into their hidden headsetsjanitors pushing their overflowing cartsdamp...
Fury
Fine direction, throbbing subwoofers, and a screen bursting with detail make David Ayer's World War II film Fury (2014) a jolting movie-house experience, featuring a tank battle whose streams of armor-piercing tracers look like ray-gun combat in outer...
Glorious Misadventures: Nicholai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America
Glorious Misadventures: Nicholai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America. Owen Matthews. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013, $28.00, hardcover, 400 pp.Americans celebrate and often romanticize the Lewis and Clark expedition that followed the US acquisition...
Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon and the Fear of Death in War
Introduction: Death in the Afternoon as Literary Education1For readers who have never gone to war and who were not raised on first-hand accounts of war, a literary Virgil can be a useful guide to the difficult questions posed by war. Borrowing from psychoanalysis,...
Hometown Heroes
Skwerl had a trick: he'd convince every new guy he was from their same hometown.He was Special Forces Detachment 7326's Intel Sergeant and had been in the team longer than anyone. By that virtue, he had played his trick on everyone. For six days he had...
In Flanders' Shadow
(with In Flanders Fields by Lt. Col. John Mcrae)In Flanders fields the poppies blowover Helmand's hills under blowtorch sunBetween the crosses, row on row,boulders scorch; soldiers' spirits searing, runThat mark our place; and in the skythrough hell,...
Klinic Am Zurichberg
We recline on the bed in our little cubicle room, Karla and me, volunteer workers on a seaside kibbutz. We've worked long and hard; it's time to rest. Sometimes she speaks in her sleep. This afternoon, when she wakes we abandon ourselves to love making...
Left. Left. Left, Right, Left. Porcelain, 2012. 6.5' X 11' X 12"
Left. Left. Left, right, left. was an installation created to commemorate the fallen soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. The title stems from a cadence call used in the military during marching or...
Lone Survivor
Peter Berg's well-acted, authentically detailed Lone Survivor (2013) is adapted-with a few liberties-from the 2007 bestseller by Marcus Luttrell (a decorated former SEAL) and ghostwriter Patrick Robinson (an author of Navy thrillers). Berg's film will...
Lucky
"I can't feel my body," he said, his voice rising faint over the sound of the I helicopter rotors pulsing in the darkness as our litter team carried him JL· down a path illuminated on either side by Chem-Lites. We moved slowly, careful not to lose our...
Manoeuvres
Original photos by Sgt. Nathan Jones, TSM E Tp 9 (Plassey) Bty 12 Regt. RA.My Welsh nephew came to visit after bivouacking on the Canadian prairies for 37 days. For the first time ever, I was in the company of a modern" soldier. What are one's first...
Map of Leaving
When my father leaves for Ranger schoolas when we left from Italy, he for Seoul,I'm flagging the poster map with pins,again leaving holes.Regarding the earth's span: here,on my wall, it's no wider than my arms.Such a bluster of geometryI'm weaving, waiting...
Men after War
Men After War. Stephen McVeigh and Nicola Cooper, eds. New York: Routledge, 2013. $125.00, paper, 207 pp.As I write this review, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs is involved in a scandal that has already caused its leader, General Eric...
Mine
It is 1999 and there is no money for college. She brings me a paper to sign because she is only 17, and though she has made the choice, she is not yet old enough to make the legal decision. It seems like a perfect solution - a steady job with benefits...
My Lai's "Fucking Flies!": The Stigmata of Trauma in Tim O'Brien's in the Lake of the Woods
I know the boil that precedes butchery.- Tim O'Brien, "The Vietnam in Me"Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.-The Things They CarriedMarch 1968, 7:22 a.m.: John "Sorcerer" Wade, boards a...
My Nazi Dagger
Under a sloppy gray sky, we slip down the long curves of University Boulevard toward Highway 20 in our old Dodge Caravan, jamming to Queen. Sprinkler pipes on big knobby tires arc across furrows of snowy stubble. In a trampled corral, one brown cow sits...
On the Front Lines of an Empire: The Rhetoric of Poetry of the First World War
(ProQuest: ... denotes "strike-through" in the original text omitted.)Here we do lie, dead but not discontent-Joseph Lee, 1917Joseph Lee is a little-known poet of World War I. His epigram, though it contradicts a modern view of World War I and poetry...
Orders
General Order Number One, Para 5, Art K: no possession, displaying or creating of sexually explicit material. I won't ask about that last part. It's beside the point; orders are orders. So when the order came down for me to personally inspect every living...
Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776
Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776. Richard R. Beeman. New York: Basic Books, 2013. $29.99, hardcover, 528 pp."When in the course of human events ... We hold these truths to be self-evident..."...
Postmodern Authority
"Because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you've dreamed of being."-La Agrado in All about My Mother, Pedro Almodóvar, 1999Introduction: War and CultureIn the liberal arts the application of ideas to action always takes place in the...
Red Tails
RED TAILSA review by Jonathan LighterThe Tuskegee Airmen (dir. Robert Markowitz, 1995) was Hollywood's award-winning first salute to the fliers of the 332nd Fighter Group, the sole operational unit of African-American combat pilots in World War II; the...
Resolved
"So: our intent is to kill this guy, and here's how we're going to do it."While he talks I cycle my pen. The lower half of the barrel rotates, presenting the 0.5 mm mechanical pencil. It is out of lead. I cycle the pen again and the black ink tip comes...
Sam Hughes as a Second Generation Trauma Victim in Bobbie Ann Mason's in Country
Bobbie Ann Mason in her 1985 novel In Country interjects a woman's perspective in the largely male-dominated subgenre known as Vietnam War literature. She demonstrates how the trauma of war can be transferred onto those who did not participate in the...
Saying Goodbye to General Giap
When General Vo Nguyen Giap died in October, 2013, at the age 0/103, I Wl>s working on a project to digitize ancient texts at a 1000-year old Buddhist temple outside Hanoi, a temple for Vietnamese kings who had won independencefivm China. I had recently...
Scars
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."The final night before the climb on Island Peak, I was in the dining room of the lodge in Chukhung, Nepal, eating a plate of Tibetan momos and enjoying an...
Shrapnel
If human remains have internal contamination due to shrapnel, then whenever possible, the shrapnel will be removed prior to shipment.- U S. Military manual on Mortuary AffairsThe bonesaw being dull,the mortician must lean the full weight of his upper...
Sidney Keyes: The War-Poet Who 'Groped for Death'
If the Second World War (1939-45) was marked by the unforeseen annihilation of human beings-with approximately 60 million military and civilian deaths (Mercatante 3)-the second global belligerence was also marked by an unforeseen scarcity in literary...
Sniping, Psalming, Saving: American Soldier, Biblical Warrior, and the Mysteries of Salvation in Saving Private Ryan
Fifteen years have passed since Saving Private Ryan debuted as a summer blockbuster, and already the film has attained the status of a classic with its own niche in the cinematic calendar from Memorial Weekend through early June. The story's time-sensitive...
Soldiers of Conscience: The Conscientious Objector as (Anti) War Hero
The producers of Soldiers of Conscience (Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg) claim that theirs "is not a film that tells an audience what to think, nor is it about the situation in Iraq today. Instead, it tells a bigger story about human nature and war,"...
Something about an Eyelash
What would you say a centipede was?Nervous, but I mean what did you usedto call them? Something about an eyelash.It was dog-hot down in Tarawa Terracewhen we lived on-base that summer, remember?The roaches were one thing, greazy scuttle-bugsI'd swear...
Sparta: A Conversation with Roxana Robinson
Roxana Robinson has always been interested in big issues. She's written a novel about the environment and global warming; another about heroin addiction. Her books aren't polemics, but they are written about things that challenge her, and things that...
TET, Seattle, February 1968
I was in my car listening to the radio when I first heard that South Vietnam had blown apart, that the firecracker celebration of Tet, the traditional New Year's celebration in Vietnam, had turned into a country-wide armed assault on America's strongholds...
The Blank Stare
His buddies said it was suicide to charge up that hill and from the look of his eyes in the old photograph he knew, he already knew; the blank stare, the thousand yard stare, the stare of the spooked kid who goes up the hill, murders a yellow-skinned...
The Book of Duels: A Conversation with Michael Garriga
I.In ion I was in a Pentagon conference room when an Air Force general asked a guest speaker-a Constitutional scholar-about the legality of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. "The decision to go to war has little to do with nations or law," she said....
The Ceremony
I never pick up hitch-hikers, but I had driven the stretch between Tsaille, where the four story Diné college rose out of the wilderness, down to the entrance of Canyon de Chelly, where I politely asked the well-groomed tourist guide if he had heard...
The Cold
There wasn't much left to say at final formation, our last before Iraq. The hundred and twenty of us made a four-rowed rectangle in the dark and the outdoor lights winked on as First Sergeant emerged from his office carrying a notebook. He was about...
The Country of Your Garden
Despite everything,the land mines, skull trees, splayed carcasses of rusted jeeps,there you are again,deep in the humid thighs of July,propagating Eden, little by little,as you walk, regal and measured,lip curled, hands clasped behind your back,through...
The Elizabethans
The Elizabethans. A.N. Wilson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. $30, hardcover, 432 pp.Historian John Lukacs has suggested that only writers of fiction pen memorable monographs: A.N. Wilson's The Elizabethans would confirm the affirmation....
The End of Innocence: The Effects of the Civil War on Children in the Paintings of Eastman Johnson
Painting images of war, even as the consequences of the conflict are bearing out, is a difficult prospect for an artist to undertake. Yet, during the Civil War, hardly any artist was able to avoid representation or reference to the war as it invaded...
The Impossibility of Home
" A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person." -Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of BeingMy husband's grandfather served in World War II. He drank. He also lost his first child when she was only 18 months old to...
The Jacket
In college, I worked waiting tables in a bar-restaurant-nightclub, depending on what time of day, the day of the week it was. It had short, sticky carpet, a dance floor in front of a low stage, tables down the center and red upholstered booths along...
The Last Time I Saw Manila
Whenever I hear that haunting song, "The Last Time I saw Paris," I always think of Manila, for the last time I saw Manila her " heart was young and gay" and now, like Paris, she is sad and wise with too much knowledge of death and destruction.- Genevieve...
The Long Goodbye
I have too many texts from dead people. Too many. The last text I ever got from Dominick was, "Thx!" He was thanking me for complimenting a tattoo design. It would be his last one, a grim reaper tattooed on his chest over his one good lung. Even to the...
The Long Walk: A Conversation with Brian Castner
In late 2004, more than one hundred Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians gathered together at Fort Carson, Colorado, for 34 riotous days of Combat Skills Training provided by the United States Army. The goal was to prepare over ten percent...
The "Make-Believe" War: Necessary Fictionalization in Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War
Alexander Gardner's Civil War photographs, especially those collected in his Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War, have achieved a tremendous amount of popularity in the one-hundred-fifty years following the war, but that fame has not come without...
The Most Vital Phenomena
Without love, family or friendship can an individual truly enjoy their success or money? Likewise without the support of others, how much more difficult is it to face the challenges in our lives? To call the Second Chechen War a challenge would certainly...
The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor
The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor. Jake Tapper. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, ion. $29.99, hardcover, 673 pp.On a blistering July day at Combat Outpost Keating, nestled at the bottom of three mountains in the Kamdesh Valley of Nuristan...
The War in Words
Violent 30-second clips exploded across screens throughout the United States every night, bringing Vietnam into livingrooms where arguments raged, pro and con, over the rights and wrongs of American involvement. So confusing was the combat that newspapers...
The Warrior and the Writer
The Eighth Annual David L. Jannetta Lecturein War, Literature & the ArtsSeptember 9, 2014 / U.S. Air Force AcademyI'd like to start by reading from my novel, Sparta, which is the reason I'm here. This passage is from the beginning of the book, when...
They Call It the Hajji Mall
The first time I heard the word, hajji, it didn't even register. Until a few months ago, I was certain that my first encounter with the word happened in a cafeteria on an American Air Force base in the United Arab Emirates in 2007. I was wrong. I had...
"To Fly Is More Fascinating Than to Read about Flying": British R.F.C. Memoirs of the First World War, 1918-1939
Literature concerning aerial warfare was a new genre created by the First World War. With manned flight in its infancy, there were no significant novels or memoirs of pilots in combat before 1914. It was apparent to British publishers during the war...
Too Old for War
Old Makatiku looked wearily upon young Katanuku. A pillar of youth he was, standing more than two meters in height with broad shoulders, a head full of shiny black hair, skin that was taut and clear, and muscles that rippled like the palms in a tree....
Underway Replenishment
Wally said there'd be plenty of girls there, even though it was late. They didn't all hook up early-some held out for more drinks and better-looking guys or just weren't interested in making a deal. We were already drunk, that goes without saying, and...
Unruh
for Brian and JohnOnly today I learned that the street I delivered on-Unruh, 700, 800, 900 blocks-not a baby, but newspapers-Means restless in German, Unruhe, the paper now deceased,And unruhig, the adjective, described me then-Restless, uneasy, anxious,...
War Tales That Blur the Lines but Extol the Truth: How Fiction Helps Make Cogent War Stories
Billy Lynn's LongHalfiime Walk by Ben Fountain Ecco, 320 pp., $25.99The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers Little, Brown & Company, 230 pp., $24.99Fobbit by David Abrams Grove Press, 384 pp., $15.00Armadillo by Janus Metz Pederson Lorber Films, $29.95Hell...
War, Witness, Modernism and David Jones's Subversive Voice
Scholars agree-through their disagreement-that In Parenthesis defies classification. It conforms to the standards of prose and verse as well as the genres of Modernism and Great War poetry. David Jones's self described "war book" (IP iv) also walks the...
Watching War
Watching War. Jan Mieszkowski. Stanford: Stanford University Press, ion. $24.95, paper, 246 pp.Jan Mieszkowski's Watching War is an impressive product of interdisciplinary research methodologies: by drawing from a variety of theorists, writers, journalists,...
What Do You Do?
Idrop a plastic bag on the picnic table and sit across from Cass. A few guys wander around the grass in blue V.A. hospital robes and stop to listen to the cars on Clement. Trees block the noise, although you can hear the cars like something far away....
When I Have Your Wounded
Nineteen-year-old Michael Hilliard joined the Army in 1967 because he wanted to fly. He had dreamed of flying since he was a little boy, imagining himself soaring with the birds. When he was very young, he would run outside to watch the vintage WWII...
You Can't Come Home Again: Phil Klay's Redeployment
I've long guessed that serious students of "war literature" are not war lovers, that love of war is not why they turn to the literature. My guess has been that such readers, in fact, hold to the hope that the best of war literature might work to curb...
Zeh Mutaasif Yum
Someone had made a mistake. Somewhere, in that brilliant and complicated train of communication, in the churning mess of government decision, someone had been wrong.We had been sleeping when it happened. We couldn't hear it from our cots, but were soon...
Zero Dark Thirty
Director Kathryn Bigelow's riveting Zero Dark Thirty (2012), with a controversial screenplay by producer Mark Boal, spotlights a woman named "Maya": a CIA analyst (beautifully played by Jessica Chastain) whose life-focus is on terminating Osama bin Laden.If...
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