Monday, November 02, 2009
Counterinsurgency blogger and retired Ranger "Abu Muqawama" not only pans Jon Krakauer's new book on Pat Tillman, but accuses Krakauer of smearing Stan McChrystal to sell his "crappy book."
A few months ago, I was asked to review Jon Krakauer's new book by the Washington Post, and I must admit to having been excited. Having grown up a pretty serious rock climber, I was a huge fan of Jon Krakauer's previous books, and in my mind, Krakauer was the best possible guy to write a book on the incredible life and tragic death of Pat Tillman.
Alas, the book was awful. I mean, it was really bad. On the same day in which I had very little good to say about it in the Post, it was similarly panned by Dexter Filkins in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. The book was so bad that Filkins and I managed to find completely different reasons to think it was rubbish. The main problem I had with the book was that Krakauer let his visceral hatred of the Bush Administration get in the way of telling what could have been a pretty good story about an amazing young man who gave up a career in the NFL to enlist in the U.S. Army and then died in Afghanistan, killed by a member of his own platoon in a firefight gone horribly wrong.
In my review, I did not spare -- as you might have expected me to do, given the particular U.S. Army regiment in which I was serving -- Pat Tillman's chain of command for what were a series of monumental cock-ups in the aftermath of Tillman's death. I thought it particularly unconscionable that Tillman's battalion commander sent a young Ranger to the funeral and expected him to go along with the lie about how Tillman died until his family could be notified once the battalion had returned. (A friend reminded me later that the 2nd Ranger Battalion had very little experience dealing with combat casualties up until that point in the war, which is a good point that I might have mentioned.) But a very wise woman -- and a former C-130 pilot -- told me once that when you're examining military miscues, you should draw a long line on a sheet of paper and write "conspiracy" on one end of the line and "buffoonery" on the other. The odds are in favor of buffoonery -- the act whereby otherwise intelligent people make a series of stupid decisions -- being a more likely explanation for what went wrong than conspiracy.
Not in Krakauer's world. In Krakauer's world, there is no rock in Afghanistan under which a plot cooked up by Donald Rumsfeld and Doug Feith is not hiding. This guy even went so far as to say that the Ranger Regiment's strict adherence to timelines was a by-product of the Bush Administration and Rumsfeld's Pentagon. (Funny, and here I grew up thinking it was because things like airfield seizures are really complex operations that demand subordinate units be places and do things according to schedule.)
Harsh stuff, but well-worth reading before you waste your money.
"...when you're examining military miscues, you should draw a long line on a sheet of paper and write "conspiracy" on one end of the line and "buffoonery" on the other. The odds are in favor of buffoonery -- the act whereby otherwise intelligent people make a series of stupid decisions -- being a more likely explanation for what went wrong than conspiracy."
This is a quote attributed to Napoleon: "Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence."
Surprised that you all are so quick to discount all that Krakauer says. Actually can't wait to read the story. I suspect it is closer to the truth than any of you hawks are comfortable with.
I like that in a writer.
The Washington Post recently published an article castigating Andrew 'Abu Muquwama' Exum for failing to disclose to the Washington Post and their readers that he was an adviser to General Stanley McChrystal when he panned Krakauer's book in the Post review. Exum knowingly violated his legal agreement with the Washington Post by hiding this blatant conflict of interest. Basically, Exum ripped Krakauer's book because he doesn't like the fact that Krakauer exposed McChrystal's central role in the Tillman cover-up.
Furthermore, if you read the all of the comments that follow Exum's blog post (linked above) in which he accuses Krakauer of smearing Stan McChrystal to sell his "crappy book," you will see that the claims Exum makes on his blog about Krakauer and his book are flat out wrong.
For more on why Exum hates Krakauer and is so eager to slander him go top this link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-10-14/gen-mcchrystals-credibility-problem/?cid=hp:mainpromo3