Thrower: Vietnam. Sex, drugs and terror lurking in the tropical night. If even half of what you read about it is true, then this was the war to end all wars: the war of America against itself. The Viet Cong were just along for the ride.
This was my generation’s World War 2, the conflict from which 80’s society forged martial myths of heroism. Yet, hard as it tried, pop culture couldn’t quite scrub the filth away. Always there were undertones of dirty warfare, of eventual failure. It wasn’t ideal hero material, but it was all we had. For me, that complexity made it all the more compelling.
Then I read Dispatches. This account of a journalist’s experience in the conflict is the finest book on war I have ever read. As well as the history, there is an important lesson. Dispatches taught me that war can be both beautiful and terrible at the same time. That it was okay to hate war and love militaria. To be a pacifist and to play wargames. Reading it made a piece of distant history into a personal thing, a hot piece of literary shrapnel lodged close to my heart.Read More