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Writing on War
University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Spring 2016

Description

War, once an alternative to peace, has increasingly come to supplant it. Call it endless war; call it Forever War: since the attacks of September 11 we have entered, the Pentagon informs us, "an era of persistent conflict." That conflict is far-flung, often intense, sometimes ineffable. It ranges from the brutal urban combat of Aleppo to the massed suicide bombers of Ramadi to the quiet drone assaults of South Waziristan. All these wars have in common the unprecedented difficulty of gaining access to them and somehow surviving to bring the stories back to the public. In this seminar we will address those difficulties, in part by studying the best contemporary war reporting available and in part by delving deep into how writers ancient and modern have written about the complicated phenomenon of war. We will study and discuss war coverage from the Persian Expedition of 401 BC to this year's Battle of Tikrit. We will analyze conventional war, guerrilla war, asymmetric war. Through our reading, analysis and discussion we will seek to discover how these wars have been covered, how they are being covered -- and how they might be covered. Our authors will range from Xenophon and Tolstoy and Robert Graves to Michael Herr, C.J. Chivers and Dexter Filkins, among many others.



Syllabus

Writing on War

Journalism J298, Spring 2016, U of California, Berkeley

Wednesdays 4:30 – 7:30 PM, The Greenhouse, North Gate Hall

 War, once an alternative to peace, has increasingly come to supplant it. Call it endless war; call it Forever War: since the attacks of September 11 we have entered, the Pentagon informs us, "an era of persistent conflict." That conflict is far-flung, often intense, sometimes ineffable. It ranges from the brutal urban combat of Aleppo to the massed suicide bombers of Ramadi to the quiet drone assaults of South Waziristan. All these wars have in common the unprecedented difficulty of gaining access to them and somehow surviving to bring the stories back to the public. In this seminar we will address those difficulties, in part by studying the best contemporary war reporting available and in part by delving deep into how writers ancient and modern have written about the complicated phenomenon of war. We will study and discuss war coverage from the Persian Expedition of 401 BC to this year's Battle of Tikrit. We will analyze conventional war, guerrilla war, asymmetric war. Through our reading, analysis and discussion we will seek to discover how these wars have been covered, how they are being covered -- and how they might be covered. Our authors will range from Xenophon and Tolstoy and Robert Graves to Michael Herr, C.J. Chivers and Dexter Filkins, among many others.


Class Requirements This is a seminar – a discussion class - which means the success of the class depends on student participation. The most important requirements are that students

 

*Attend all class sessions

*Do all reading and writing assignments

*Participate in discussions

 

A student’s record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the thoroughness of his or her preparation, will determine the success of our class and contribute the better part of the grade.

Schedule Note that all classes will take place on Wednesday afternoons, 4:30 PM- 7:30 PM in the Greenhouse.

Reading Our primary reading will draw largely from a series of books about war, nonfiction and some fiction, which are listed below. I strongly urge you to obtain these books in your own copies, and in the edition specified, either from a local bookstore or from online suppliers, so that you will be able to highlight and annotate them.

Writing Students will be assigned one final paper of twelve pages, treating a work or works on war. To bolster the clarity and vigor of your English prose, I strongly suggest reading two works: George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language” and Strunk and White’s little manual, The Elements of Style. The text of the Orwell essay can be found easily on the web.

Presentations Each student will make one presentation in class on an article of his or her choosing, after interviewing the author. Use of multimedia is encouraged.

Meetings I will hope to meet with each of you individually at least once during the course of the term. We will make these appointments on an ad hoc basis. I am best reached via email, at mark@markdanner.com. My writing, speaking and other information can be found at my website, markdanner.com.

Grading Students will be graded in equal parts on their attendance, their preparedness and participation in class, the strength of their presentations and the quality of their final paper.

 

                                           Required Texts

 

J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun (S&S, 2005 [1984]), 279

Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (Grove, 2010), 400

Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (Vintage, 2009), 368

Michael Herr, Dispatches (Vintage, 1991 [1977]), 272

Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel (Penguin, 2004 [1920]), 320

Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War (Vintage, 1992)

Ryszard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs (Vintage, 1992)

Sven Linqvist, A History of Bombing (New Press, 2003), 220

Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, I Miss It So (Grove, 2014 [2001]), 336

George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (Harcourt, 19TK []),

Leo Tolstoy, The Sebastopol Sketches (Penguin, 1986 [1854]), 192

Joby Warrick, The Triple Agent (Vintage, 2012), 288


Tentative Syllabus

 

 1. January 20, 2016 – Introduction

 2. January 27 -- Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War (Vintage, 1992)

       Ryszard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs (Vintage, 1992

3. February 3 – Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

4. February 10 – Leo Tolstoy, The Sebastopol Sketches (Penguin, 1986 [1854]), 192

5. February 17 – Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel (Penguin, 2004 [1920]), 320

6. February 24 – George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (Harcourt, 19TK []),

 7. March 2 – Ernest Hemingway, By Line: Hemingway

 8. March 9 – J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun (S&S, 2005 [1984]), 279

 9. March 16 – Michael Herr, Dispatches (Vintage, 1991 [1977]), 272

                               [March 23 – Spring Break, No Class]

 10. March 30 – Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, I Miss It So (Grove, 2014 [2001]), 336

 11. April 6 – Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (Grove, 2010), 400

 12. April 13 – Sven Linqvist, A History of Bombing (New Press, 2003), 220

 13. April 20 – Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (Vintage, 2009), 368

 14. April 27 – Joby Warrick, The Triple Agent (Vintage, 2012), 288

 15. May 4 – Review Week: Possible Make Up Class

 

 Writing On War – A Sampling

 Michael Herr, Dispatches

 

George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

 

Tim O’Brien Going After Cacciato

 

Xenophon, The Persian Expedition

 

Tolstoy, Sebastopol Stories

 

Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down

 

Lindqvist, A History of Bombing

 

Joby Warrick, The Triple Agent

 

David Finkel, The Good Soldiers

 

Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War, The View From the Ground

 

Ernest Hemingway, By-Line: Ernest Hemingway

 

Jonathan Schell, The Village of Ben Suc

 

Joe Halderman, The Forever War

 

Dexter Filkins, The Forever War

 

Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote

 

J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun

 

Michael Graves, Goodbye To All That

 

Ernest Junger, Storm of Steel

 

Levi, A Man Is A Man

 

Norman Mailer, Armies of the Night

 

Aussarres, Battle of the Casbah

 

Alan Furst, Night Battles

 

Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once and Young

 

Jean Amery, At the Mind’s Limits

 

James Salter, The Hunters

 

Michael Kelly, Martyrs’ Day

 

Thucydides, “The Melian Dialogue”

 

Svetlana Alexievich, Zinky Boys

 

George MacDonald Fraser, Quartered Safe Out Here

 

Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier

 

Phil Klay, Redeployment

 

Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War

 

 

Shorter Pieces

 

Tom Junot, “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama”

 

C.J. Chivers, “The School”

 

Jonathan Schell, “The Village of Ben Suc”

 

Larry Heinemann, “Good Morning to You, Lieutenant”



CLASS NOTES:

1.              January 20, 2016- First Day of Class

Concepts covered: Read the book as if you’re the editor. Know how the book is structured. Know what’s good, what’s not successful, and what can be improved. Know how the book can be better. Keep track of notable passages- – whether they are good or bad – mark them and come to class prepared to discuss.

Storytelling concepts: “In Media Res,” which is Latin for, “Into the middle of things.” Write with your ear, use good verbs, use mechanisms to move the story foreward and deliver information on the move.

Media used in class: Viewed beginning of film Battle of Algiers

The film starts off in this manner, leading with the action/suspense as a way of immediately grabbing the viewer’s attention. Ahmad, the main character in the story, was introduced in a harrowing life-or-death-situation.  The suspense then serves as the motor of the narrative.  The story unfolds with an exposition of history inside narrative, with a theme of over-determination both in narrative and symbolic purposes.

2.       January 27- Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War (Vintage, 1992)

                        Ryszard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs (Vintage, 1992)

 

History period covered: The class started with a discussion of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 and Great Britain’s control over lands once occupied by the Ottoman Empire prior to the First World War. Britain’s colonial rule in Iran and the Middle East was discussed, with emphasis on the Empire’s geopolitical oil interests. After World War 2, the US pretty much inherited a very big portion of the previous British Empire, including allegiances of the previously mentioned Gulf States and their resources. The Americans also inherited the problems left behind by Britain’s colonial creations, and handled these problems with methods similar to the Empire’s – in this case, a coup in Iran. In 1953 the C.I.A helped to overthrow Mohammad Mosaddegh. Democratically-elected, Mosaddeggh nationalized the country’s oil industry.

Media used in class: - Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War

 Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007)was a Polish Wire reporter who covered war and conflict in 22 countries. It was later revealed that he collaborated with secret police in Stalinist Poland. Kapuscinski was fascinated by how power works. He focused on revolutions and power struggles resulting from overthrown political agencies.

 

Passages that stand out from The Soccer War include his characterization of the city, plus descriptions of bumping into garbage cans and following a trail of smoke from a plane to pilots laughing

Ryszard Kapuscinski Shah of Shah’s

The reader sees Kapuscinski’s room (the mess) in his book. The book is the mess.

First part of the book is a necessary exposition, followed by significant suspense throughout the book.  This demonstrates Kapuscinski engaging in history.

 

Preparing for a presentation: Explain why you picked the piece and the writer. Choose a passage that strikes you and explain it’s significance – whether it is good or bad- - to discuss in class. What are the secrets of its flaws? E.g, Enough foreground, enough background?

For the interview of chosen author, ask:

How was the story done?

What they did, what they didn’t do, and how they made their choices.

How did they put the piece together?

Ways of using pictures, notes, exposition

(This is a chance to get into the mindset and method of a writer on war)

 

Notes on Final paper: Write about any war book, discuss which writer you liked in class, what you liked or disliked about their writings. Read pieces connected to the writer. Maybe critique the author or his writings.

The final paper is due on the last day of class, if handed in a day before then you get an extra grade. If for example you get an A-, you’ll end up with an A.

3.     February 3- Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

 

Class Notes- Confirmed that classes from now on will be held at 9:00 am

Professor Danner sent a link concerning drone warfare, written by Dean Wasserman http://tinyurl.com/zacrhzf

 

Class Presentation: Phil James, The Drone Papers

The Drone Papers did not nearly get coverage as the Pentagon Papers. (The digital format or visualization in which the information was contained might have contributed to this, meaning that the content of the Drone Papers could have easily been readable as a print article). Unfortunately, this was a missed opportunity, because it didn’t get as much impact as it deserved.

 

The US argument was that the use of drones is a new type of warfare that reduced the chances of civilians killed in military operations. The report proved otherwise –the majority of people killed by drone attacks are innocent civilians. The authorization of such an unconventional method of warfare hardened President Obama’s footprint rather than lightening it.  

U.S. Drone warfare is either conducted by either the C.I.A or JSOC- apparent competitors- on Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. Drone warfare on Yemen was approved by President Obama after the failed Detroit bombing, which if successful, would have collapsed his administration.

 

Discussion on Mark Danner’s Massacre at el Mozote:

 

Professor Danner was obsessed with the issues of El Salvador as a student at Harvard, and wrote about it during international relations class. It was the “new Vietnam” at the time. Danner was originally drawn to El Salvador after hearing about excavations. When he went there, he saw people were worried. Initially, he heard about an excavation taking place, and when he went to El Salvador, he saw that people were worried. Initially, he planned to write about the current political situation in El Salvador.

 

Difficulties: Structure and timeline. How to shape the story? This led to the development of a two-part piece. (One covered the massacre, the other, the cover-up). Danner had to find someone who witnessed the massacre and stayed alive. This was Rufina, whom he interviewed for 5 hours- was the only witness. The problem with Rufina is that she had told her story many times, and was therefore considered a professional witness. In this case of a professional witness, the tough part is to try to get her to punch through her memorized story to the deeper, more emotional story.

Danner also interviews with the guide and rebel leaders, finding people in “the oddest places.” This included people who knew others by extension.

 

Characteristics of the book: The first sentence in the book was written in second- person. Theme of creation and suspense were in the intro, suspense was built up the whole way until the climax to keep the reader interested.  Build up the suspense the whole way to climax of story, have to have suspense to keep the reader interested.

 

Professor Danner had to find a way to fold exposition in the story without the rereading misunderstanding it as background.  (The massacre was an older story for the author, who wrote about it in the early nineties). This was achieved by showing pictures of bodies to show readers what was ahead.

 

Takeaway: You can get reliable information from unreliable sources.

 

4.         February 10- Leo Tolstoy, The Sebastopol Sketches (Penguin, 1986 [1854]), 192

Class started with Kyle’s presentation of Ben Hubbard’s articles covering the Middle-East

1. On the Road in Syria: Struggle All Around Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Nov. 11. 2015

2. Ramadi, Reclaimed by Iraq, Is in Ruins After ISIS Fight : Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Jan. 7. 2015

3. Saudi-Iran Feud Poses Threat to Iraq's Effort to Combat ISIS Ben Hubbard, Anne Barnard, Somini Sengupta, New York Times, Jan 5. 2016

 

On the Road in Syria: Struggle All Around. This article is fact-rich in complexity.

Small lead, full of back and forth, and really good verbs. Theme is dramatic change.

 

Hubbard manages to say things while describing what he’s telling us –such as simultaneously saying, “Things used to be this way and now they are like this, things aren’t as they seem.”

Shows you surface, taking a chunk of surface and following them back in town.

 

Leo Tolstoy - The Sebastopol Sketches

 

Tolstoy’s life was a mess. Though from a wealthy family, he struggled with gambling and other problems. In despair, he went to the Crimean War with his brother. Tolstoy wrote The Sebastopol Sketches at 26 years of age, and it was one of the first of his pieces to be featured prominently in Russian literary circles. The Sketches highlight one major moral theme and one major stylistic one. The moral focus of the book is courage, and how it manifests itself on the battlefield. Instead of valuing class, he values the individual actions of men. Stylistically, Tolstoy uses the second person and free indirect discourse to take you through the battlefield. Everything is alive in his scenes--the landscape, the artillery--and this method of “defamiliarization”, which flavors the scenes with subjectivity, is a theme that will remain significant into the 21st century.

 

5.         February 17- Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel (Penguin, 2004 [1920]), 320

Class Notes- Class started with Jenn’s presentation of Alma Guillermoprieto:

Mexico: The Murder of the Young, The New York Review of Books, Jan. 8. 2015 http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/01/08/mexico-murder-young/

Mexico: Not Sheep to be Killed, The New York Review of Books, Nov. 5. 2014

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2014/11/05/mexico-not-sheep-to-be-killed/

Unusual piece; it’s a piece about a piece. There’s an emphasis on self-consciousness as well as a detailed description of what journalists do. Then about the massacre, on which she couldn’t find anything. Why do we see them jumping in the car?

This piece is failed entrepreneurial journey: Dramatic Irony used in piece; would be harder if not in first person. She did fantastic work in her writing about the FARC. Her book The Heart Bleeds is also worth a read.

 

Class discussion- Ernst Junger- We are told again and again: his is the most improbable political story in decades, perhaps in history. And yet that a reality television megastar, as Trump might put it, could outpoll sixteen dimly- to-barely-known politicians, some new faces, many also-rans, seems less than shocking. Did tens of millions ever cast their eyes on the junior senators from Florida or Tennessee or Texas? The governor of Ohio? Not to mention the ex-governors of Arkansas or Florida, or the ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard, before they chanced to mount the stage for a debate with Donald J. Trump last August? This was a television event that drew the unheard-of viewership of 24 million?. Those 24 million tuned in to see Trump. Only one man on stage had a name as famous and by then it was in such disrepute that he had seen fit to replace it with an exclamation point on his campaign posters.

 

Static trench warfare

Trench warfare was used during the Iraq/Iran war, as well as in Ukraine, Sarajevo as well as during the Ethiopian Eritrean war.

Junger was an amateur entomologist, which showed in this piece. He was interested in surroundings. He embraced a new world of warfare. Showed apocalyptic exaltation in war. His father was a chemical engineer and acquired wealth.

The first 40 pages is a fascination of war to the writer, close to First Sebastopol Sketch.

He had a fresh eye and noticed many things other journalists don’t.

People thought that technology would make things better, electricity, the train and other inventions were around and working. It also brought newer weapons.

WW1 technology: Automatic weapons, gas, chlorine, newly made artillery and barbed wire for trench warfare, among other things.

Junger was an innovator at military tactics, he lacks to criticize the higher ups, except a few minor mentions. The distance of the authors view doesn’t change. What he was focused on was what was in front of him. He found the battle absorbing. Most writers don’t know what is going on in the war other than what they see. If there is a shape to the book, it has to do with his attitude with war.

There are several revised versions of this book. It was a fantastic descriptive book. Don’t take descriptions for granted.

 

 

6.         February 24- George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (Harcourt, 19TK []),

 

Class Notes- Started the class with Tom’s Presentation on Robert Fisk’s reporting on the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre from his book “Pity the Nation” (Oxford University Press,1990).


Class discussion: Born in 1946, Robert Fisk is perhaps one of the most famous war correspondents in Britain. Having worked for almost 2 decades at the Times, he has reported from Belfast, Portugal and the Middle East.

I. Fisk combines literary Narrative, intense descriptive detail of literal surroundings and detailed accumulation of known truths, half truths and rumors surrounding the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Beirut, Lebanon. Though horrifically graphic and bleak, Fisk matches the visceral with the quintessentially human in his description of the massacred neighborhood. But Fisk’s brash and hands-on approach has drawn ire from industry colleagues. There is little room for nuance in his piece, but he effectively depicts the horrors--and emptiness--of genocide.

 

Robert Fisk: My Beating By Refugees is a symbol of the hatred and fury of the filthy war, Independent, December 9. 2001

 

Suggested writer on Lebanon: Jonathan Randal

“Tragedy of Lebanon”

“Going All the Way

 

II. Weekly Discussion - Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia

Unique demonstration of Orwell’s style, parallels with Fisk- peculiarity of view

He goes to cover the war for I.C.P, and begins his nonfiction account with a romanticized depiction of a fellow communist soldier signing up for duty. The book applies a writing style that Orwell has been trying to cultivate his whole life--one that tells the truth in spite of personal ideals that might embellish or idealize.

 

Orwell had expected to be in the International Brigade, the main Communist force in Spain, but the head of Communist Party in England did not like him so he ended up in the Partit Obrer d'Unificació Marxista (P.O.U.M), the Workers Party of Marxist Unification.  P.O.U.M were a particular branch not beholden to the bidding of the Soviet Union. The book depicts his transformation from enthusiasm to disillusionment regarding the Spanish Civil War, which ended with a Communist defeat.


As a war narrative, Orwell is neither an idealist like Tolstoy or a pessimist like Remarque. He is a realist who depicts the tedium of waiting for battle, and the lowly struggles of being an amateur in confusing battles embroiled in the fog of war. Homage to Catalonia is one of the best examples of level-headed, cynical journalism, a book that counters the manifold clash of narratives present in an ideological war.

 

Further Reading

 

Adam Hochschild, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

 

7.     March 2- Ernest Hemingway, By Line: Hemingway (Scribner, 2002)

 

Svetlana Alexievich, Zinky Boys (Chatto, 1992)

 

In 2015, Svetlana Alexievich became one the first journalists to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Her idiosyncratic writing style relies primarily on interview testimony, and is, as a whole, a beautiful mosaic of the divergent voices involved in major tragedies and wars. Zinky Boys looks at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which lasted for most of the 1980s. Alexievich plays close attention to the role of women in war, traditionally unrepresented in war literature.

 

Hemingway - Byline

 

Ernest Hemingway is best known for his larger-than-life persona, a journeyman author who towed the line between leisurely travelling and melancholic prose-writing. Byline recounts his dispatches as a reporter over several decades, with many short-length pieces depicting World War I, The Spanish Civil War and World War II. Byline is a great example of this craft in small segments, but also shows how journalism influenced Hemingway’s economical style.

 

8.         March 9- J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun (S&S, 2005 [1984]), 279

 

Class Notes- Class started with Hanna’s presentation on C.J Chivers’ article The School http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a1173/esq0606beslan-140/

 

Other readings for Chivers:

The Secret Casualties of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons ; New York Times, Oct. 14, 2014

 

The Doomsday Scam: New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016

 

Behind the Black Flag: The Recruitment of an ISIS Killer: New York Times, Dec. 20, 2015

 

C.J. Chivers, a former marine, wrote for the New York Times and was a frequent contributor to Esquire.

He reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, South Ossetia, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Chechnya.

Had a unique brand of journalism- study of weapons used in wars as well as arms trade and trafficking.

 

J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun (S&S, 1984)

 

Having grown up in Shanghai during the Rape of Nanking and the Second World War, Ballard experienced the drama of war as part of the British expatriate community in China. The fictional adaptation of his experience follows a young protagonist who gets interned by the Japanese Army, but who soon grows fond of both the captors and the captured. Ballard uses his memories to paint a prelapsarian account of war, untarnished by the pain and sorrow so often associated with modern war accounts. The book also touches on many of the Ballard’s main themes, such as the confluence of technology, savagery and the dystopian aspects of modern life.

 

9. March 16- Michael Herr, Dispatches (Vintage, 1991 [1977]), 272

 

Michael Herr’s Dispatches is a wild, experimental and drug-infused screed following the writer through  Saigon and the surrounding jungle. Many of the great Vietnam war films are indebted to Michael Herr’s portrayal of Vietnam. Music, lingo, firefights and drugs feature prominently in the book, and paint a dreary picture of a war that the Americans never had control over.

 

Apart from being one of the few great pieces of literature that emerged from the hippie era, Dispatches is effectively a psychological exploration of war, where the fears and irrationalities of the soldiers feature more prominently than their warring exploits.

 

March 23- No Class- Spring Break

 

10. March 30- Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, I Miss It So (Grove, 2014 [2001]), 336

Class Notes- Class started with a discussion with each student regarding the topic of his/her final paper. Then Phil gave a presentation on the Military Industrial Complex and the issue was discussed in class.

Next we moved to discussing My War is Gone… and the Bosnia War.

Bosnia began in 1991, one of the first post Cold War wars. It was a surprise and a genocidal war. Ethnic cleansing was not an accurate description of what happened in Bosnia since all Bosnians are ethnically the same.

Serbs were the protagonists and they were the dominant group in Yugoslavia, significant numbers. They took territories in neighboring countries that had Serb populations. Used rape and killings to get Muslims out of various areas. U.S. policy was to watch and wait until the Serbs won the war.

It’s a confusing book, glossary page needed. Over-dramatizing book. Conveys that war is exciting.

11. April 8- Sven Linqvist, A History of Bombing (New Press, 2003), 220 - Pushed back until next week.

Class Notes- Kyle started the class with a presentation on the movie “Generation Kill” by Evan Wright, 2004. http://storage.blackwater.ru/generation%20kill/Generation_Kill.pdf and discussion of presentation.

Discussion of the book My War Gone by, I Miss It So by Anthony Lloyd: Bosnia compared to Iraq because groups broke off. The break off of Yugoslavia left the Serbs as the strongest group. The killing of Muslims by the Serbs was a humanitarian disaster not seen coming in Europe.

International community dropping off food but not protecting the people. The Muslims there thought that the UN or European nations would intervene militarily but they did not. Several genocides took place on the world stage during the post Cold War era. In Bosnia and Rwanda the international community did nothing. The liberal US media such as the New York Times and the New Yorker supported the Iraq war mainly due to a lack of intervention in Bosnia and the guilt that came with it.

12. April 13-  Sven Linqvist, A History of Bombing (New Press, 2003), 220

Class Notes- Jen gave a presentation about Samantha Powers’ A Problem From Hell.

A discussion of Sven Lindqvists A History of Bombing- This book pushed the nonfiction form. Difficult to define this book or how it was written. He’s published 10 to 12 books- all different in their own ways. Lindqvist started a social movement of knowing history of the workplace.

The title of his book suggests starting with gunpowder and technology, but he doesn’t do that although the history is there. It’s more of a history of a certain way of thinking. The title brackets itself as something it’s not, the content is more a history of broader chain of thinking, a broader notion of colonialism. What this book is trying to do is say that colonialism and bombing historically go hand in hand.

Why did he use science fiction and popular fiction quotations? He’s using popular fiction as a comic book thought balloon on top of society. There are personal experiences in the book, childhood memories of bombing.

The book was built on great research, a lot of memoirs, a lot of government reports

 

13. April 20- Dexter Filkins, The Forever War ( Vintage, 2009), page 368

Class Notes- Tom gave a presentation on Jason Burke’s How the Changing Media is Changing Terrorism followed by a class discussion on Burke's article.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/25/how-changing-media-changing-terrorism

Class discussion in Dexter Filkins The Forever War. Dexter was matter of fact, does not attempt to get attention to himself. The writing is effective and very clear. The book is condensed and does not waste time. It’s full of good descriptions of events and people. Excellent combat reporting. Organized thematically and not chronologically. It’s lack of content made up for mediacy.

14. April 27- Joby Warrick, The Triple Agent (Vintage, 2012), 288

Class discussion on Kyle’s article The Husk of Aleppo. Kyle spoke of his fieldwork in Turkey and Syria and several aspects of reporting while in the Middle East.

A class discussion on Joby Warrick’s Triple Agent. Warrick interviewed about 200 sources for this book concerning sensitive material. Great reconstruction of events in this book. On the narrative level it reads like a screenplay and not analysis of historical events and there was little context or history- although the book was very informative. Great background on characters. It was odd that the doctor Humam was not vetted. Warrick also sheds light on drone campaign and CIA and Jordanian Mukhabarat operational procedures in their “War on Terror”.

15. May 4- Jonathan Schell, The Village of Ben Suc, (The New Yorker July 15, 1967)

Class discussion- This was Jonathan Schell’s first piece of journalism. He was visiting his brother, who was reporting in Vietnam for the New Yorker, went around and conducted interviews. Schell used a different type of technique- making familiar things non-familiar. His fresh eyes saw fresh things. There is a lot of attention to detail in the writing without any judgement passed- avoids explicit judgement.

This is a piece about war and policy, what the Americans are doing in Vietnam, with Ben Suc as a small model of the American war in Vietnam. Described the killing, forced displacement of the people, complete destruction of the village .  



© 2017 Mark Danner