When the destruction was finally over, everyone in the Humvee was shouting. This, I thought, is what the will to live sounds like.'YEAH! YEAH! Oh, YEAH!' we all howled in union like the animals we were. 'Targets destroyed,'said the monotone on the radio.
Book of the week is War Reporting for Cowards by Chris Ayers. I don't usually enjoy Iraq war books by reporters. Most of them take themselves a little too seriously. Ayers, self-deprecating throughout, does not have this problem.
Ayers describes himself as an accidental war reporter. Writing for The Times of London, he makes his name as a business/financial reporter more familiar with stock prices than NBC gear. His first taste of war came when he had the misfortune of living in New York and covering Wall Street at the time of the September 11th attacks. He also was in the right place-if you will- to cover the anthrax attacks when they befell his office building. Hoping to move towards a life of more glamour and less terror, he makes a move to LA to cover the celebrity beat for The Times.
It is from the Hollywood scene this young reporter is picked to cover the war in Iraq. You follow Chris, a man who had never even been camping, to the mud and dust of the Iraqi desert. He covers the artillerymen of the US Marines at the start of the invasion. With the sound of the guns in the background, he attempts to explain what life is like for the men on the ground, and what life is like for him as well.
What impresses me about Ayres is his humor and his honesty. He does not flinch away from his own failings or exaggerate his experiences. He conveys a respect for the Marines he rode with and the complexity of the lives as warriors. He acknowledges that they were his protectors and that his presence often put them at risk.
This is a basic fact that other reporters seem to forget.