War Porn

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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I see a lot of you reading what you'd call "war porn", blood and guts, action-filled first person narratives. All shooting, all missions, all action, etc. That's great for motivation, hell I devoured the stuff in my teens and early 20's, but there's another way.

When you're reading these books, you are looking at history not from a straw, but from a fiber optic cable. Exceptionally narrow and focused, it provdes great clarity to that "single" pixel of one person's experiences in a war or battle. But...why are they there? How did they get there? What events put them there and what resulted from their fight?

Peel back the onion. Read a book about a B-17 pilot in the 8th Air Force during WWII. We had thousand plane raids. Bombers had periods where they prepped for D-Day, attacked POL sites, rail yards, etc. The air war in Europe had many different phases, where does your pilot fall in the timeline?

Step back some more. How effective was the campaign? Why have it in the first place? Where did strategic bombing come from? Why did the RAF bomb at night and the US during the day? How did this influence air forces going forward?

Hopefully you see my point. War porn is great, but dig into the context. Some Ranger did some stuff in Afghanistan. Cool! Now, why are we there? Bin Laden? Okay, why Bin Laden? How did he get his start? What did we do about him before 9/11? How did the Soviets influence Bin Laden? See what I mean?

Take a step back from war porn. Develop critical thinking and a better understanding of the world around you.
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
Administrator
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
16,413
Location
Not Afghanistan
A short list of books my OP addresses. Obviously, a lot is missing, a lot of everything. This isn’t gospel, but if you’ve read some of them you’ll know where I’m going with my OP. Some of these also contain enough vignettes (soft core war porn?) to keep you interested between the higher level discussions.

Ghost Wars and Directorate S by Steve Coll tell the story of the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and the Afghan war from the 1970’s through the present.

The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson is about the US Army in Europe during WWII.

The British are Coming also by Rick Atkinson is about the start of the American Revolution.

The Bombers and the Bombed by Richard Overy is about the allied bombing campaign over WWII which also deals with the psychology behind why citizens didn’t break during prolonged bombing campaigns.

Ian Toll’s Pacific War Trilogy about the US Navy in WWII. It is the mirror image of Atkinson’s trilogy, discussing “warts and all” about the Navy’s Pacific campaign.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, Neptune’s Inferno, and The Fleet at Flood Tide are about the Battle of Samar, the US Navy at Guadalcanal (Solomons campaign), and the last year of the war in the Pacific during WWII. Combine this with Toll’s and you have the US Navy in WWII wrapped up.

Rising Sun, Falling Skies by Jeffrey Cox is about the Java Sea campaign in WWII. An excellent book about a little known chapter of WWII.

Cobra II by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor is a great book about the run up to, and invasion of, Iraq.

The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk is dry at times, but a fantastic primer on how British and Russian designs/ fears set the stage for modern Afghanistan

Afghantsy by Roderick Breathwaite is about the Russian experience in Afghanistan.

The Great Gamble by Gregory Feifer is a higher view of Russian involvement in Afghanistan. Read the these two for a solid understanding of this topic.

(I consider The Bear Went over the Mountain to be TTP-driven war porn.)

Shattered Sword by Anthony Tully and Jonathon Parshall is about the Battle of Midway. (If you haven’t had your fill of the US Navy in WWII)
 
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