Completed several books this week: Misquoting Jesus, Boots on the Ground by Dusk and Where men win glory (War and Pat Tillman), Eight World Cups and The World is a Ball (Soccer), Several Short Sentences About Writing and Bookmark Now, Coaching Youth Football, and something called the Janus report which was not what I thought it would be (it is just a collection of anonymous yes/no surveys about sexual behavior).
Misquoting Jesus is a worthwhile read for anyone who has ever read The Bible. Not only is it a personal account of one mans spiritual journey that is shared by many Christians today (including myself), it thoroughly yet succinctly details various mistranslations of the Bible and how they happened. The quality of writing shines. Highly recommended. Grade: A+
Where Men Win Glory and Boots on the Ground were about Pat Tillman and ‘friendly fire’ in the Iraq/Afghanistan war. Boots on the Ground by Dusk was by Pat Tillman’s mother and had an amazingly evocative first chapter or two. Where Men Win Glory (A line from the Illiad) was by the author of Into Thin Air, the book that took away my desire to ascend the heights of Mt. Everest. Grades: B+
Pat Tillman. I had heard about the name way back when but never knew any details. The authors make some damning revelations – General McCrystal’s memo to Rumsfeld saying “If the story gets out”, Rumsfeld denying getting it; the commander in Afghanistan flying to Iraq for one day, the day of Tillman’s death, and then saying he wasn’t there. Commanders denying giving orders that their subordinates insisted they did. Testimony changing after a commander asks the interviewer to ‘step out of the room for a minute’. The guy who first opened fire on Tillman (Thus causing the rest of his team to follow his lead) getting a field promotion. The initial investigation disappearing. The lull in fire where Tillman came out behind the rock (He was screaming how he was on their side), where his own squad resumed firing, killing him.
The craziness that they document is almost beyond belief. The commander in question assigning himself to lead the investigation. Another commander calling Tillman “Worm Food” and not investigating because Tillman wasn’t Christian. Yet another commander surveying the canyon where they got ambushed one day earlier, then ordering Tillman’s squad to travel in daylight and separate the squad, both which were against regulations. The team leader ultimately got blamed – except he was retired! Tillman’s diary was burned. His armor stripped and destroyed despite orders to keep the armor. Hospital records saying they ‘attempted CPR’ when Tillman was missing most of his head. Dates changed, memos redacted, reports lost – It’s a mass of incompetence. Those who say it’s a conspiracy are wrong – conspiracies are organized.
The books also have some non-Pat Tillman stuff. Did you know the first US Soldier’s deaths of the Afghanistan war were self-inflicted? Someone called in an air strike, but instead of dictating the enemy coordinates, he instead misread his instruments and reported his own GPS location. It also injured the Afghani we were planning to put in charge of Afghanistan. Oops.
Oh and Jessica Lynch, supposedly captured by the enemy, turns out the ‘enemy’ was actually trying to save her. Her injuries were from a car crash, not from enemy fire. She wasn’t in prison, she was in a hospital. The Iraqis tried to drive her to an American base but were fired on at the gate. A thousand troops were assembled to ‘save’ Lynch, instead they just marched into the hospital, took her out easily, and ignored the four other American ‘captives’ because they weren’t cute 19-year-old blond females.
I didn’t know any of that. I thought she really was captured. Now I know better. It’s depressing how badly the media screws things up, reporting the first thing they hear from someone who couldn’t know the facts.
The other books were meh. The soccer related ones were okay – well written, occasionally humorous, but mostly describing soccer games that happened long ago, which just doesn’t work well on paper. I miss the World Cup. Bookmark Now was a bunch of clever short stories about writing by writers. Several Short Sentences About Writing I had already read years ago and forgotten I had read it. It’s kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing about the mystery of self-expression. It reminds me of Pascal’s Penses. Teaching youth football was about American football and was full of jargon and code words I didn’t understand (I was hoping to study other sports’ tactics for my book). And the Janus Report, well, the only thing I remember that stands out was that over 20% of men say they have ‘had a homosexual experience’, whatever that means (it was never defined). I find that hard to believe, which is why I remember it.
Grade: Four Sandwiches.