War Stories

The war in Iraq is notable, observes Michael Massing, for the number of "books by soldiers" that have "appeared while the fighting was still going on -- accounts written not just by generals like Tommy Franks but also by lieutenants, sergeants, reservists, and privates. Such works have been largely ignored by the mass media, which is too bad, for they provide a grunt's-eye view of the war that is often far richer, and rawer, than anything available in our newspapers or on TV." Massing reviews a number of them, including Paul Reickhoff's ''Chasing Ghosts'' and Nathaniel Fick's ''One Bullet Away.'' Their first-hand accounts, Massing writes, provide a vivid reminder that "war is about killing." As Fick puts it, combat "nearly unhinged me." Worst of all were the "blanket accolades and thanks from people 'for what you guys did over there.' Thanks for what, I wanted to ask -- shooting kids, cowering in terror behind a berm, dropping artillery on people's homes?"