wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,
wombat_socho
wombat_socho

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Imperial Grunts - two thumbs up!

chocol8fiend was absolutely right about Robert Kaplan's Imperial Grunts - where most books are tolerable brain candy, this is fine cheesecake.

Kaplan's book examines the culture and society of what are arguably the best of America's troops on the front lines in the war on terror: the Army's Special Forces teams and the rifle companies of the Marine Corps. This is not a sociology text, though; Kaplan tells his tale by recounting his experience with spec ops troops and Marines from Colombia to the Philippines, in the embassy at Ulaan Baatar, and in the dust of the Horn of Africa, finishing in the streets of Fallujah during the abortive first battle there. He spares no detail when describing the dead hand of the Cold War's bureaucracy and doctrines, the muddled politics of joint service operations, and the shortcomings of the American media when it comes to its effects on the fighting in such places as Colombia and Iraq. Frankly, I was surprised to learn that Kaplan writes for The Atlantic, which is not known for its sympathy for the red states or the military, and where P.J. O'Rourke sticks out like a sore conservative thumb. There's a lot to be learned from Imperial Grunts, and it says much for Mr. Kaplan's humility that he avoided prefacing his book with the classic salutation from Kipling - because it surely would have fit, and fit well.
Tags: books, military stuff
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