There is always a reason to visit the book-store Shakespeare & Company in the centre of Paris, but today Alice introduced her latest opus: "Collateral Damage".
Its a book about a timeless theme, the Vietnam war and about all that what comes that war. Its a a "good ole" war, a traditional one from the past, without drones, with cemeteries full of heroes. How come that heroes are actually always ending up on cemeteries?
Since NATO lead war against Yugoslavia we talk about "Humanitarian War". Today behind every soldier is a psychiatrist to save him from mental harm. And we are willing to go for war for Human Rights what we justify as "the responsibility to protect" like its a story from Orwell. So, I thourght its a good idea to look back to the times of Vietnam, so I went Alice's reading of her book.
The book is split into 3 episodes:
1968: Getting Out — When Toby Woodruff is drafted, he tries to find a middle ground between “going in” and “getting out” of the war and nearly loses his life.
1982: If I Should Stay — A Thanksgiving celebration brings out the tensions in the Percy family as they all try to put the 1960s and the war behind them.
1993: Leaving Vietnam — When Vietnam begins to reopen to the West, Sarah Shepherd has a chance to see the world as her brother Walter last glimpsed it.
I wonder how a book in thirty years will be written about Americas longest war, this 12 years ongoing war in Afghanistan. Alice Boatwright's characters of the Vietnam war are as wounded as any soldier suffering from PTSD and struggling with psychic pain like today’s veterans from Astan and Iraq. But while the Afghan mess of today is visible ending into another surrender to the reality on the ground by the world famous self appointed "policemen" the Vietnam Vets have had to manage their survival in a quite ignorant society while today the Facebook generation is faster helping to come over with adventures in remote countries. A book about the errors of Iraq and AfPak, the war chosen to legitimize defence spending without the need of a real enemy, will certainly not be about people but about the fading hegemony of a fading "superpower" That's why Alice's book might be the better choice for those who want to understand that not the human is bad, that its the war which makes humans bad.
Alice's book is titled "Collateral Damage':
Alice K Boatwright
Standing Stone Books, 2012
ISBN: 0983617244, 9780983617242
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