I recently read an advance copy of Adrian Bonenberger's Afghan Post, which is scheduled to be published in January. It is worth reading. He takes
about 50 pages to get up a head of steam, but he is a skilled writer, with an
interesting story to tell as he goes from being a weenie English major at Yale
(yeah, I was too, but I didn't sit in the Elizabethan Club browsing old issues
of Punch, and I never affected the
British phraseology that pimples the younger Bonenberger's prose in the first
part of this book).
The real theme of the book, I think, is that Bonenberger was more
comfortable, more real, in the Army, even in Ranger school, than he was at
Yale. Being an Airborne Ranger meant a lot to him. ("Feels like New Haven -- or,
the way New Haven should've been -- with something more substantial beneath it
Yet ultimately he decided to leave the Army. He's not a "good soldier," in the
occasionally pejorative sense of that word. He is thoughtful, observant,
skeptical: "No matter how much the Generals, Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels
would like the soldiers to believe it's the civilians' or politicians' fault
for not supporting the military better, if the buck stops somewhere it should
stop with them."
He's also bothered by how much black Special Operations, he calls "a
professional cadre of assassins," have become the cultural heart of the U.S.
military. He worries, as Andrew Bacevich
does, that we have set up a perpetual machine in the belief that "without these
assassins, we wouldn't be safe, that the only way to deal with the bad terrorist
men was to keep murdering them. Not until they go away, because they'll never 'go away.'"
The scariest line in the book comes near the end: "That was my job, after
all, to believe in the mission, to keep it going even when common sense and
experience was giving me other information." I am not sure I agree with that
job definition. What can a captain do? He can tell the truth to his chain of
His political conclusion, written in 2008 in Afghanistan: "What our
Republic needs is less empire, and more responsible citizenry." Hard to argue
The Head & The Hand Press