Monday, March 8, 2010

Nathaniel Fick and Classics.

For the past month I've been on a Generation Kill, Evan Wright Nathaniel Fick binge, so to speak.

I first watched the HBO TV show Generation Kill, an adaptation of Evan Wright's book of the same name, which chronicles a Recon Marine division's invasion of Iraq in 2003. I love both the book and the TV show. Wright developed a lot of respect for the Marines, and I guess I have now too.

They're not mindless, and in many cases they're incredibly bright. They feel drawn towards war because of their need to be a warrior. As a result they eschew the normal things people their ages do and join the Marines. I suppose I admire that in a way.

One of the central characters of both book and TV show is Nathaniel Fick - Lieutenant of the Hitman Platoon that we primarily follow. In both versions of the story he is an incredibly moral and intelligent leader, and it interested me to discover that he had also written a memoir of his time as a Marine in a book entitled "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer".

Needless to say, I swiftly picked it up. To my surprise Fick is a classics graduate, and the three sections of his book (Peace, War and Aftermath) each begins with a classical quote - Thucydides, Plutarch and St. Augustine, respectively). Once I'd finished the book, it dawned on me that Fick is somewhat of a classical character.

He's immensely reflective and moral, yet overwhelmingly practical. Recalling some of the Roman soldiers of the past. The comparison continues when one considers his remarkably readable and clear writing style - again recalling a certain famous Roman General. It's not lost on him either that he was part of a military force invading a country with a great ancient heritage. The parallels between him and yet another great classical soldier could be drawn here.

All in all, it's a great book and Fick an interesting figure. The power of the text works through it's elegant but simple prose and through the introspective look Fick gives to his role during a crucial time in modern history.

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