The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins. Nonfiction—investigative journalism. A journalist’s stories from Afghanistan and Iraq. Highly violent and disturbing, filled with bizarre wartime details, reminiscent of Apocalypse Now, conveying at times the hallucinogenic weirdness of wartime events (for example, the story “Blonde,” in which an American army platoon displays one of their female soldiers and announces that she is “for sale,” as a distraction to the Iraqi males in a village, thereby allowing the unit to search the Iraqis’ homes without encountering resistance). Obviously not a cheerful book. Just look at the author photo.
The book opens with a prologue entitled “Hells Bells,” describing the 2004 assault on Fallujah from the footsoldier’s perspective in terms that are not mournful but grimly exuberant—just like the heavy metal rock song “Hells Bells” (by AC/DC), which is playing from loudspeakers during the attack. We witness combat as a lethal game of tackle football, in which the marines and the journalist sprint downfield, dive for cover, bullets whip past, and a “jihadi’s head bursts like a tomato.”
September 28th, 2012 / 12:00 pm