Thursday, February 01, 2007

There is a dream people have of what combat will be, and it isn't like that.

Stephen Gaskin came from a military family and dreamed of being in combat as a glorious thing. The instant he was in real combat, he wrote, he couldn't think of doing anything but helping other people were hurt. The man who dreamed of medals became instant, unofficial medic.

"Men Who March Away" is an anthology of poems by British guys who were in World War I arranged in chronological order.

The early ones dream of glory, the later ones are about mud and blood and meaninglessness. These poems are often by the same guys, the early dewy eyed ones, and the later ones filled with rotting bodies.

There's a new short, clear book called "Mud: "A Military History" that is aimed at military people, and therefore practical, but easy for anyone to read. The mud events they describe are not what anyone is dreaming of when they think joining up is the great good thing.

Is there a great good thing that has some of the aspects of popular fantasy of combat? Is there some, great good thing like that really exists.