Non-Fiction Challenge: The Generals
I need to read more non-fiction. I need to read more, in general. My reading habits are embarrassingly poor. I promise myself, over and over, that I’ll break out of my rut, and over and over I fall back in. So, no more excuses, I am vowing to read one non-fiction book a month until I give up and become a lazy, cosseted pulp drone* once more. (Speaking of which, I’ve got some thoughts about Cold Days I want to get to later. Zing!)
First up in my campaign to expand my taste and mind is The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks. Maybe it’s an overreaction to coming of age during the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with all the associated recruitment propaganda that such an adolescence entails, but I find myself intensely attracted to anything which promises to examine military life and war without the hagiographic excesses that characterizes most American discussions of our military. I think you can draw a direct link to the lack of experience most Americans have with the military to our embarrassing hero worship of them. We’re all shamed by how poorly the veterans of Vietnam were treated and are terrified of making the same mistake twice, but because the vast, vast majority of us have no personal experience with the armed forces we overcorrect and act like these departments of the government are staffed by infallible supermen. Early press on Ricks’ book is that he goes hard in the other direction, calling out structural deficiencies in how the Pentagon conducts itself in a fair, but scathing critique. Most readers at Amazon rate it highly. We’ll see if it lives up to the hype later this month.
*not that there’s anything wrong with that.