52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge 2009

I didn’t like the “?” mark at the end of the other one, so I thought I’d start this thread instead. Anyway, you guys know the rules, and I’m kick-starting it with…

Generation Kill
Evan Wright

“Get Some”

I picked up the book after spending a weekend with the HBO series; falling in love with Iceman, Fick, Person and the various profane personalities of Bravo Two, First Recon Marines. If anyone hasn’t caught the series, then I highly urge everyone to, while reading LK’s and Chris Johnson’s insight on the series. I wanted to see if there’s stuff in the book that didn’t make it to screen. While there are some details that differ, the major difference is that the book focuses a lot more on the early days of the mission while the series developed a lot of the marines right before and in Baghdad itself.

I’ve never read war journalism before so I don’t have a basis of comparison within the genre, but the book proved itself to be more gripping, dramatic and darkly humorous the majority of fiction books I read last year. What Wright lacks in fancy prose, he more than makes up for by the detail in his descriptions. He has a breezy style that just sells the great marine banter, the absurdity of situations and the immediacy of some the scenes they find themselves in. If anything, I’m disappointed that he seems to only spend 4 chapters about the companies actions in Baghdad.

While the book is more combat orientated that the series, the main characters shine regardless of the medium. The marines he follows are such a colourful cast of characters. There are violent sociopaths, broken idealists, incompetent officers, sardonic sergeants and calm collected anti-heroes. These are some very interesting characters, and many of them change by the end of the book.

I like that the book presented a much bigger overview than the series did. Wright does a good job explaining the general perspective of the marines from their Battalion Commander’s view. It’s as they say, “the guys on the ground situational awareness doesn’t extend very far”, and everyone on the ground has conflicting views. The book acknowledges this, even if Wright doesn’t always stray too far from Bravo Two’s platoon role and outlook.

In any case, this is a very worthy read, and a very good show.