Re: RARA-AVIS: William Arden's Almost Edgar

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 30 May 2005

this being Memorial Day, Dennis recently arranged for
> Iuniverse to publish a reprint edition of his first-ever book-length
> work."

Actually the new edition of COMBAT SOLDIER was reissued some years ago as part of The Authors Guild Back-In-Print program with Iuniverse. (The title wasn't mine, I called it FAR OFF IS OUR LAND. A bit pretentious, but I was young and eager, and the title is a quote from Freiheit, a song of the Spanish Civil War which meant a lot more to me at the time, and, in a way, still does.)

  That raises another question for Dennis. You were a soldier in
> Korea, right? Did Roy's disillusionment with Vietnam in Another Way to
> Die mirror your Korea experience?
> No, World War Two, as you'll see in Combat Soldier, Korea appears briefly
in UPTOWN DOWNTOWN. Disillusionment is part of all wars, but I think for most of us in combat units in WWII we went in with few illusions---WWOne had taken care of that to a considerable extent. Oh, sure, we had our gung-ho boys, and we had our good, solid men who were defending their country, but I think for most of us it was a matter of doing what we had to once we were there, and jumping at any chance to get the hell out of it---with quite a few creating their own chance. I recall vividly how we cheered in the hospital when the Soviets crossed the Oder. There were no considerations of strategy or tactics in the ranks, it was Go you Reds. Every mile they took, we didn;t have to.

    (Two of the best WWII movies made toward the end or immediately after the war tell it more or less as it was. Battleground, despite a whole lot of the usual uplifting claptrap meant for the home front, has some scenes that show the stark truth, especially the brief moment when Van Heflin is about to run away in panic, and is stopped only because a buddy runs up at that instant and he can't desert in front of him. (There are some in jokes in it too, especially early in the film.)The Story of GI Joe, is the other.)

    Vietnam, and to a lesser extent, Korea, were vastly different wars. Those were both questionable wars, political wars, imperial wars, and that is a recipe for dissillusionment, especially when the fighting falls heavily on the backs of the poor and the minorities. For those kind of wars you need a professional army.

    That's the kind of war we fight today. The kind of wars the British fought all over the globe in the Nineteenth Century in expansion and defense of Empire, some of them in the exact same places against the exact same enemy. (Afghanistan really isn't a country, it was an invention of the British to build a barrier against the Russians and protect India, and it took them two wars to establish it out of entirely different warring tribes.) The Romans did the same and had to make their legions professional after the end of the Republic, made up mostly of non-Romans.

    So while I learned a lot about what happens to ordinary soldiers in combat in WWII, Vietnam brought it's own disilluons.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 30 May 2005 EDT