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||"...Don't Mean Nothin', Snake..."
|This is, in
many ways, the best that David Drake has given us yet. Certainly, it's
the best of the "Hammer's Slammers" series.
In a war not unlike the one in which Drake and i both found ourselves
involved a while back, an ad-hoc unit of odds and sods finds itself
rolling hot to try to relieve their employer's provincial capital.
While these are members of Hammer's Slammers, the deadliest mercenary
unit going, they are hardly the Slammers' finest, ranging from
maintenance personnel pressed into service as the crew of a patched-up
tank to their task group's CO, Capt. Peggie Ranson, who is just this
side of a
Section 8, to a civilian reporter, who accidentally winds up along for
the ride, and furnishes a viewpoint for the reader.
It is this viewpoint (one of several from which Drake tells the story)
that makes this book, in my opinion, just about Drake's best -- by
someone a lot like ourselves, putting us inside his head and then
putting him through an accelerated version of the hardening process
that produces a professional soldier from a raw replacement, Drake
shows us even more starkly than usual, that war is, indeed hell. And
Drake is not going to let us get away from war without rubbing our
noses in it; he wants the reader to see soldiers as people, not
expendables, like bullets. He wants to show people who haven't Seen The
Elephant what war is, and to -- just maybe -- convince a few of us that
War Is Not A Good Thing.
Reading this book can be harrowing, as you watch men and women who are
at least recogniseable and often sympathetic characters kill and die.
If you can read it, watch those characters fighting and dying, and not
find yourself in some sort of emotional state as you read Chapter 13,
which is a slightly-less-formal version of a military arrival report of
Task Force Ranson's arrival in the capital, listing the few remaining
vehicles and personnel from those that they rolled with, then you have
"...still i wonder why -- the worst of men must fight and the best of
men must die..." -- that was the question when Woodie wrote "Reuben
James"; it's still the question.
One of the absolutely most revealing looks at the military mind and
what the military actually DOES that i have ever read.
"Drive On", by Johnny Cash, on his "American Recordings" CD, "Johnny
Come Lately" by Steve Earle on "Copperhead Road",
Stone", by John