Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm totally not reading the Krakauer book

Damn, I was excited for the new Krakauer book about Pat Tillman. Now the New York Times and the Washington Post reviews say not to do so.

Dexter Filkins, who knows a thing or two about war zones, essentially calls the book boring. The key line is "With Tillman, you would think he’d have all he needed to fashion an epic narrative. Unfortunately, he fails to pull it off." Filkins complains that very little of the story is about Afghanistan and that the book is plagued by digressions.

Andrew Exum, author of This Man's Army, is a bit harsher arguing that Kraukauer doesn't really know his subject matter. He ties the friendly fire death of Tillman to the evils of the Bush administration rather than to the mistakes of the local commanders. His final paragraph captures the mistake that outsiders make of many organizations (notably corporations):

An Air Force officer I know likes to say that whenever one seeks to understand an epic failure of our nation's military, one must first draw a line on a sheet of paper and write "conspiracy" at one end and "buffoonery" on the other. Those who have spent time in the military and have seen it struggle not just with war but with everyday barracks life tend to err on the side of incompetence, while those who never have -- such as Krakauer -- tend to suspect conspiracy.

Disappointing indeed, but at least I can keep plugging away on the massive George Herring book I am reading.


Brack said...

Gahhh!! It had such promise . . . oh well, better to get the bad news now, before I've sunk a few hundred pages into the thing. Filkins' Forever War was top notch, so he's got serious cred in my book.

Tripp said...

Exactly. Sad but we are better off for it.