"I'm sorry I must leave, but I must do what is asked of me by my God, my Country, and my Corps.. and so, the war blog begins, again." ~B

21 September 2009

The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers

Last week's book of the week was Delia Falconer's The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers. I don't usually read a lot of military fiction, but this one fell more into the realm of historical fiction with its focus on the inner life of Captain Frederick Benteen — the man who saved Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at Little Bighorn.

Benteen is prompted to reflect on his life, especially the days leading up to the battle, after he receives a letter from a young man.

What I found moving about The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers is how human the characters are. As Benteen eulogizes his men, his friends, the reader is allowed a glimpse into the inner circle. Circumstances, technology, even tactics change over time, but men at war do not.

Benteen has to deal with the reality that he lived while so many of his friends did not. He thinks, " It is a myth that we prove ourselves in war; we test ourselves in silence."

How many men and women must test themselves today, in the silence?

Benteen writes to the young man:
"If you truly wish to understand the battle and my place in it, you must understand the dreams and jokes and stories that we bore within us. You must see how, as we shared them, they formed a kind of landscape."

How true. And what landscapes are being formed in the mountain and desert battlefields of today?

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