22 March 2011

Get your read on, and maybe also watch some TV

Since I finished the books about the siege of Leningrad I switched back to a book about dogs and dog behavior, which I rate as merely okay. It is wonderfully written, but I don't feel that there's a whole lot of useful information there. The author has done exhaustive research on dogs, but doesn't include much of it in the book that I can tell. It is for a non-technical audience, so I'm sure that helps her sell a lot of books. It didn't help me much at all, because I'm a huge nerd and love nerd things. Made for nerds.

After that I started on Where Men Win Glory, about Pat Tillman. It's a difficult read, in part because he wasn't a terribly exciting guy, and in part because you'd have to be a hermit not to know how the story ends. The details don't make the reading any easier. In short, Tillman was killed by members of his own platoon, and then the cause of his death was hidden from his family and the public for many months. Soldiers were ordered to lie about it. The soldiers responsible for his death were given very mild punishments ('released for standards' from the Rangers and kicked back to Regular Army - you can be 'released for standards' for stuff like getting a traffic ticket). I don't know much about the US Army Rangers, but I know that lying is not the type of thing they tend to endorse. Except when it suits them, in which case they endorse it at the highest levels.

That the reading is difficult does not mean that it isn't worthwhile. Quite the opposite: the sordid, depressing circumstances of Tillman's death and subsequent exploitation as an American "hero" (a designation that he would probably have found repugnant) is definitely worth your time.

If movies are more your thing, then another amazing piece of reporting on the war in Afghanistan is Restrepo. You can watch it with commercial interruption on NatGeo, or you can order it on Netflix. Highly recommended.

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