There is some evidence that average wave heights are slowly rising, and that freak waves of eighty or ninety feet are becoming more common. Wave heights off the coast of England have risen an average of 25 percent over the past couple of decades, which converts to a twenty-foot increase in the highest waves over the next half century. One cause may be the tightening of environmental laws, which has reduced the amount of oil flushed into the oceans by oil tankers.
I don't think people would climb mountains or jump off bridges with parachutes or kayak Class V rapids if those things didn't offer the brief and horrible illusion of imminent death. They would just be complicated, time-consuming endeavors that we'd steer well clear of because they got in the way of real life.
I think human society for tens of thousands of years has sent young men out in small groups to do things that are necessary but very dangerous. And they've always gotten killed doing it. And they've always turned it into a matter of honor and a way of gaining acceptance back into society if they survived.
I decided to start a medical training program for freelancers, only freelancers. They're the ones who are doing most of the combat reporting. They're taking most of the risks. They're absorbing most of the casualties. And they're the most underserved and under-resourced of everyone in the entire news business.
During the air war of 1944, a four-man combat crew on a B-17 bomber took a vow to never abandon one another no matter how desperate the situation. The aircraft was hit by flak during a mission and went into a terminal dive, and the pilot ordered everyone to bail out. The top turret gunner obeyed the order, but the ball turret gunner discovered that a piece of flak had jammed his turret and he could not get out. The other three men in his pact could have bailed out with the parachutes, but they stayed with him until the... Read more »
The Army might screw you and your girlfriend might dump you and the enemy might kill you, but the shared commitment to safeguard one another’s lives is unnegotiable and only deepens with time. The willingness to die for another person is a form of love that even religions fail to inspire, and the experience of it changes a person profoundly.
Society can give its young men almost any job and they'll figure how to do it. They'll suffer for it and die for it and watch their friends die for it, but in the end, it will get done. That only means that society should be careful about what it asks for. ... Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war, but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.
Of the primary emotions, fear is the one that bears most directly on survival. Children show fear. Adults try not to, maybe because it's shameful, or, in some circumstances, dangerous. The fear response is automatic, though, and your body runs through its reflexes whether you want it to or not.
The negative effects of combat were nightmares, and I'd get jumpy around certain noises and stuff, but you'd have that after a car accident or a bad divorce. Life's filled with trauma. You don't need to go to war to find it it's going to find you. We all deal with it, and the effects go away after awhile. At least they did for me.
Here's an easy way to see if a war movie is being truthful: If you see an explosion on a faraway hillside and the sound of the explosion and the detonation of the bomb happen at the same time - if they're putting the sound and the vision together in the same moment - they're going toward our cultural understanding of war, not the reality of war.
In my eyes Marlantes has become the pre-eminent literary voice on war of our generation. He is a natural storyteller and a deeply profound thinker who not only illuminates war for civilians, but also offers a kind of spiritual guidance to vets themselves. As this generation of warriors comes home, they will be enormously helped by what Marlantes has written. I’m sure he will literally save lives.
I went to Afghanistan in '96 to write about terrorist training camps south of Jalalabad and Tora Bora, in the mountains. I was there right before the Taliban took over, literally a few weeks before they took Kabul. The frontline wasn't terribly active, but it was definitely there. And they swept into power.
Well, you got to remember, bin Laden killed 3,000 Americans and, in some ways, he and his ideology killed tens of thousands of his fellow Muslims, including Pakistanis. I understand that that was provocative and complicated for Pakistan, but only if you accept the idea that he was an acceptable member of Pakistani society.
The coward’s fear of death stems in large part from his incapacity to love anything but his own body. The inability to participate in others’ lives stands in the way of his developing any inner resources sufficient to overcome the terror of death. — J. Glenn Gary, The Warriors
No one will remember that President Obama supported the Arab Spring if it eventually fails and the region collapses back into the political Dark Ages. If we actively engage these movements with advice, with money, and, when necessary, with military force, then we get a vote in how it all turns out.
Combat isn't where you might die -- though that does happen -- it's where you find out whether you get to keep on living. Don't underestimate the power of that revelation. Don't underestimate the things young men will wager in order to play that game one more time.
It's fun to have money, but the more money I get, the less interesting it becomes. If you don't have very much, you have to think about it. If you are starving, you become interested in food. If you are struggling to pay the bills, money becomes tragically important.