The band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’

This classic goes out as an homage to all who served and a caution to all who send them.

• Extra Credit Military History Reading: An adaptation from “The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq,” by Pulitzer Prize winner C.J. Chivers.

• Double Extra Credit WWI Poetry Readings: From the Poetry Foundation, whose editors note: “You may notice that more poems in 1914 and 1915 extoll the old virtues of honor, duty, heroism, and glory, while many later poems after 1915 approach these lofty abstractions with far greater skepticism and moral subtlety, through realism and bitter irony. Though horrific depictions of battle in poetry date back to Homer’s Iliad, the later poems of WWI mark a substantial shift in how we view war and sacrifice.”


16 Responses to “The band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Exactly. A great selection Patrick! Thanks.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I was fascinated by World War I as a kid, especially the aerial component. The Red Baron, Eddie Rickenbacker, the Lafayette Escadrille, Spads, Nieuports and Fokkers. It all seemed glorious.

      When I finally read “All Quiet on the Western Front” in high school it all seemed quite different. That book really had an effect on my thinking about war, particularly as regards those who order it and those who actually fight it.

      Later I stumbled across Michael Herr’s “Dispatches,” another eye-opener, and met veterans of Vietnam and our various Middle Eastern adventures. We’ve a lot to learn from these people, and like Hurben I wonder whether we’re capable of it.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    That’s the kind of music to which we should be listening today.

    Another good one I just started if you are interested. The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End, by Robert Gerwarth.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ll give ’er a squint, K.

      Have you read “The Sleepwalkers?” Kind of a tough slog through the deep weeds of how The War to End All Wars got started.

      I’m reading actual books at bedtime now. I think the e-variety was messing with my sleep patterns. You know how we old dogs love our sleep.

      The past few nights it’s been E.B. White. I was gratified to stumble across this line again: “Even in evil times, a writer should cultivate only what naturally absorbs his fancy, whether it be freedom or chinch bugs, and should write in the way that comes easy.”

      • khal spencer Says:

        Meena said the monitor screens keep people awake. I can vouch for that. I need to go back to real books.

        Another good set of books on the background to WW I.

        Of course, Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman.
        The First World War, Sir John Keegan
        Dreadnaught: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War, by Robert Massie (its a heavy lift; I keep reading chapters and then putting it down for a month).

      • khal spencer Says:

        BTW, thanks for the heads up on Sleepwalkers. Had not heard of it.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        We are reading one of the cold war books, Blind Man’s Bluff, the Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, by Sherry Sontag and Cristopher Drew. One of our neighbors was involved in an 1959 underwater dance, more like dogfight, between two diesel submarines, his American boat (USS Grenadier) and a new Russian boat which was the first built to launch missiles from the tower. The Grenadier forced the Russian boat to surface to “breathe” after a prolonged underwater dogfight. They then got photographs of it and a sonar signature recording.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Hoo-lawd. I always wondered what “Das Boot” did for recruitment in the sub service. That was one hair-raising movie.

        A high-school pal served as a sonarman on a nuke sub based out of Scotland. He liked the Navy until the all-volunteer thing kicked in.

        Once, he said, some eejit noob decided it would be a swell idea to take acid on a cruise — until the noob realized while firmly in the clutches of the L-S-Dizzy that he was in a steel tube surrounded on all sides by water, a condition that would persist for the better part of quite some time.

        As I recall, restraints were involved, and I suspect the young swab never made admiral.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      It’s almost always wise to let a sleeping dog lie. That is something Turk and Mia need to learn. But, it’s probably too late.

  3. Hurben Says:

    Another good one from Australia

  4. Hurben Says:

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Nineteen. Jaysis. I was a college dropout. A janitor, assistant to a home-improvement contractor, and finally, a newspaper copy boy. I could feel the draft, but it blew right past me.

      My experience in the bush was limited to playing Army in the bamboo hedges at Randolph AFB during 1962-67. By the time I turned 19 I had an actual weapon, a .380 Llama semiauto handgun, but I planned to use it to overthrow the State.

      You see how well that worked out.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I was a student at a fly-by-night computer school in Chicago. From there, I was a computer operator in Chicago, then Waukegan, Illinois. Made it to the ripe old age of 20 before my friends and neighbors decided I had better things to do. Turned 21 over there. But, I didn’t have to wait till my birthday to start drinking beer. Before I was 21 I talked a Huey pilot into slinging a pallet (40 cases) of beer (PBR) to the firebase. I was a popular fellow for quite a while. Well, until the beer ran out anyway.

      • Hurben Says:

        I turned 18 halfway through my first tour at our fire base at Sifuma, on the Namibia/Angola border

  5. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Just finished Jill Lepore’s “These Truths” which I highly recommend. Improved my viewpoint as to a post Don the Con period. The only exception is the dithering as to climate change – we’re not gonna get a do-over on that. The orange greaseball will be roasting in hell alongside Dick Cheney before the real nasty effects show up.
    As to printed paper vs pixels I have NO trouble falling asleep while reading my old-time Kindle (the model with no backlight) whether in bed or on the couch. My wife jokes that when I say “I’m going to read the NYT” using it, it really means I’ll be taking a nap!

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