Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Look Not Unto the Morrow

Look Not Unto the Morrow

By David Swanson
January 31, 2013

http://warisacrime.org/content/look-not-unto-morrow

Robert Fantina, the author of a tragically nonfictional survey of the lives of soldiers in all past U.S. wars, has now published a devastatingly fictional account of the war that the Vietnamese call the American War.

I say devastatingly fictional, because Fantina condenses and concentrates into one small book and the lives of a very few characters the lead-up to, the experience of, and the aftermath of a U.S. soldier's participation in that war. The extreme horror and tragedy recounted (leavened by much human goodness) would require the watering down of thousands of additional pages of extraneous information were it nonfiction, and yet it is all based in typical experiences endured, overcome, or surrendered to by many thousands of Americans.

The plot is not predictable, the lessons not pedantic, but the story of Look Not Unto the Morrow is a story that grabs you more firmly by the throat because of the knowledge of how many people have lived it.

Here we meet a young man who only figures out what war is once he's in it, and a young woman who loves him and who only begins to give a damn about the world and the people in it when her lover goes to war. I find myself, as I read this, desperately hoping that someone young will read it too and get themselves together faster, before it's too late.

Then I realize that when I grew up believing war was a sick barbaric atavism, I was growing up after the peace movement of the 1960s had happened. Perhaps people had learned. Perhaps that learning had reached me. I also had the option of going to college. I also was not drafted. The accounts of veterans at the Winter Soldier event during the war on Iraq, just like those during the war on Vietnam, are tales of disillusionment. These are young men, and now women too, who believed the hype, believed some good purpose could be served by mass murder, headed off to participate, and then began to have grave doubts.

The accounts of some veterans are, in fact, very mixed and complicated. Some believe a soldier should tell the truth about a horrible genocidal crime and also continue to take part in it if so ordered. Some believe our current wars should be denounced and actively resisted, but that a good war might start next month or next year.

A young man recently published a column in the Washington Post headlined "I killed people in Afghanistan. Was I right or wrong?" I interviewed him and will air the interview on my radio show. He told me that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, supported the ongoing occupation once begun, and supported the war on Afghanistan. I asked what he would do if another invasion were launched that he was opposed to. He replied that he would go and fight in it. He would go and kill people in it.

Beneath all the differences between our era and the 1960s/1970s that come through in Fantina's novel, there is much that is the same. Combining Fantina's novel with Nick Turse's new nonfictional account of the extended atrocity and marathon "war crime" that was the assault on Vietnam (all war is a crime, not certain bits of it) should give one a serious understanding of what was, is, and must not continue to be the fundamental error of our ways.

I've read more autobiographical accounts of our current wars than fiction, so please send me your recommendations for the latter, as well as for accounts from Vietnamese and Iraqi and Afghan (etc.) points of view. Autobiographies have their own advantages. I used to wish Ralph Waldo Emerson's prediction might come true and novels might be displaced by memoirs.

I say I used to wish that, because a good writer can invent truths, can show us what's happening inside the heads of multiple characters, can personalize public affairs with the power of mythology. To see what I'm talking about, read Look Not Unto the Morrow.

*************

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. Subscribe or unsubscribe from David's email lists here.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Scoop HiveMind Project: Universal Basic Income - Are We Up For It?

This is an opportunity for you as one of the 4 million potential funders and recipients of a Universal Basic Income to collectively consider the issue:
1. Is UBI is a desirable policy for New Zealand; and
2. How should a UBI system work in practice. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: National Announces Plan To Hit Youth With Big Mallets

The National party has announced its youth justice policy, which includes a controversial plan for recidivist serious youth offenders to be hit over the head with a comically large rubber mallet. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: This ->

It's been brought to my attention that Labour's new campaign slogan is "Let's do this". A collective call to action. A mission. I myself was halfway out of the couch before I realised I wasn't sure what it was I was supposed to do. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Hivemind Report: What New Zealanders Think About Affordable Housing

Ordinary citizens have had very few venues where they can debate and discuss as to what they believe has led to the crisis in affordable housing and how we might begin to address this. The HiveMind on affordable housing was about redressing the balance. More>>

ALSO:

New Hivemind Exploration: Opening The Election - Freshwater Quality

This is an opportunity for you as one of the 4 million guardians of our common water resources to help us find mutually agreeable solutions to the critical task of collectively managing these resources for health and sustainability. More>>

ALSO: