There exist any number of outlets of varying formats, qualities, and positions for those who want contemporary writing or film on the War on Terror, from blogs to TV shows. But much of the most popular and definitive retelling of the War on Terror falls into a category that itself can only be described as being something between an artistic sensibility and an organized body of work. I’m talking about the cultural phenomenon of special forces memoirs, at least a dozen of which have become bestsellers in the years since 9/11 and which have made at least a few noncommissioned officers household names in this country. These include Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, Mark Owens’ No Easy Day, Jack Coughlin’s Shooter, the most successful of them all Chris Kyle’s American Sniper, dozens more- there’s short descriptions of a few in the handout. There’s enough of them that military brass – especially those connected with the Navy SEALs, whose memoirs seem to the most in demand among all the various special forces units – have registered concern over the sheer number of memoirs being published by men who are meant to be undertaking secret missions, to say nothing of how many of these memoirists have had their accounts disputed by fellow soldiers.
Continue reading “2016 Birthday Lecture: Merit and Lethality”