Thursday, November 25, 2010

The First Great Piece of Literature from the Afghanistan War?

I have a new blog entry up on the Huffington's about photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who has just released a new book, Infidel, which documents Battle Company of the 2nd Battalion, 403rd Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which Hetherington photographed over the course of a year's deployment in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. It's a different kind of war book, more focused on the quiet moments of a soldier's life...and it's reality is absolutely compelling. The finest part is a series of images of these warriors asleep, like young boys, in their bunks. I wonder if it isn't part of the first great piece of literature to come out of the war.

In the back of the book, Hetherington includes statements from many of the soldiers of Battle Company. One of the most interesting to me came from a man who, like many soldiers from wars past, talks about how the fact of killing changes a man forever. But in today's volunteer army, the weight of that feeling is an extra burden. He notes that he chose to join the military, and chose the infantry, and so the killing he has done could, as he notes, have been avoided. It's not an idea I'd ever considered before.

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