Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An interesting take on the "Shock Troops" mess

It is fun and frequently informative to go rabbit-holing in the blogosphere. An offhand comment made on a blog (especially if a link is thoughtfully provided) can take the reader to a complete and previously unsuspected universe. Such as the one I found via a comment at Protein Wisdom. This is analysis of the controversial articles in New Republic that articulated some niggling doubts in my own mind. Mr. Barnes is a professional manuscript reader, I am an amateur one (and writer). I also read a good number of military blogs and I think I have a feel for how they write. As Mr. Barnes illustrates in his post, the New Republic articles by "Scott Thomas" sound like they were written by a *writer*. Now, this writer could very well have some military experience. Or his roommate did. But no military blogger--even those who write with elegance and style--writes like a *writer*. There are little "tells", just like those in the military can sense bogus claims of service. Plus, the stuff he leaves out that milbloggers uniformly put in. Does anyone get the sense that "Scott Thomas" really is part of a unit? That he knows, personally, the people in these little anecdotes? A real military writer is *constantly* doing the equivalent of "here's a guy, I'll call him Joe, he snores and smells like old socks but he can, I shit you not, find his way home if you dropped him some godforsaken 'Stan from 10,000 feet in the middle of the night. Now, one day Joe decides ..." and so on. Sound familiar?

It's not a new phenomenon, either. I heartily recommend the McAuslan books by George MacDonald Fraser (e.g. The General Danced at Dawn) The author manfully attempted to hide the true identities of the Hieland sojers that cavort through his pages, but a fellow officer read it and instantly identified them -- even one fellow that was a blending of two different real-life people. They can't help themselves, see. It's *family*, warts and all. I really doubt "Scott Thomas" is truly a part of that family.


Blogger Redleg75 said...

Heh. And it turns out he is. Just not a very well-loved member.

8:37 AM, August 04, 2007  
Anonymous BillT said...

"[T]here's a guy, I'll call him Scott, he snores and smells like old socks but he can, I shit you not, remember every fairy tale and war story -- okay, mostly fairy tales -- he ever heard or read. Now, one day Scott decides to try to write his way out of a wet paper bag..."

10:40 PM, August 12, 2007  

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