Saturday, December 12, 2009

What else I read - Mass Casualties

Last month I wrote that I met Michael Anthony, a student at Bridgewater State College and author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic's True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq. Anthony's "year of" book is not a stunt, like so many of them are (not that I'm knocking the stunt books, I clearly love them). The year he wrote about was decided for him, by the army, and so he writes in his memoir how a person copes when virtually all of his decisions are made for him. Sometimes he submits to the will of the army, other times he tries to find a way to push back, and in at least one case he finds allies who assist him at deception. At the end of the year he is concerned at how he will cope with returning to the "real world" after having had all major decisions made for him, and never having to worry about having food to eat or a place to sleep (he always had a "place" to sleep, but had no end of problems actually falling asleep there and became addicted to cigarettes, over the counter drugs, and prescription drugs all in the name of sleep). It is of course ironic that he also realizes that it was this year of being away that "made [him] a man", even as his decisions were made for him. It is of course ironic that soldiers fight for freedom even as they give theirs up, a fact which Anthony becomes quite intimate with.

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