Sit, kneel, bend. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. We gonna be here for a minute.
Last month, we talked about telling the stories of combat veterans as they really happened. Without whitewashing or varnish. Without embellishment. Without lies.
In the third-to-last paragraph, I make mention of sitting down and talking with veterans. Over the last month I’ve been looking around and realizing nobody has ever explained how to talk with veterans, as a writer looking for technical (and personal) knowledge about the profession of arms. Today, we’re gonna start down that rode.
Ruminating on Falkenberg’s Regiment
At 19 years old, I discovered Jerry Pournelle’s work in a massive omnibus entitled The Prince. I will vociferously argue that his CoDominium series with John Christian Falkenberg III, is a better, more enjoyable body of work than Janissaries. Friends disagree with me about this, but I tend to ignore them. Pournelle’s Falkenberg is an incredible character and one I can always more of in my library, hence my surprise when I learned that a new Falkenberg’s legion novel existed. Hallelujah! Then I read it… Read more
Laughter is not the best medicine, but it comes darn close. It’s the reason we remember particular events. For many, it’s the reflexive means of protecting one’s self- witness the self-deprecating and dark humor many veterans utilize. Clearly there’s money in quality humor, Pandora and Sirius both maintain comedy channels. But how do we go about humor as writers? Read more
I have kept nearly book I’ve purchased or received in the last 17 years. Reading and a love of literature are a hobby my mother taught me, even though she was by no means a fan of reading herself. With extremely rare exception, she encouraged me to read all that I could get my hands on. My father (the real bibliophile in our house) even told me he understood if I read Marx, Hitler, or Mao, so long as I understood what their idiotic socialist theorizing led to- pointless death and starvation.
Across the years, I’ve come to appreciate the joy of reading. When you’re stuck in Helmand province with not a damn thing to do but wait for fire missions, books are a wonderful way to pass the time. They don’t run out of batteries, you can mark your page if you need to stop, and immediately go back to it when you’re done with tasks. Perhaps the most militant of all the authors I’ve read in nearly 31 and a half years has been Tom Kratman. It’s been an amusing evolution to say the least, but in that vein, I get to review his newest piece of work- A Pillar of Fire by Night. We’ll refer to it by its initials (APoFbN) for simplicity’s sake.
“Moral high ground is a wonderful place to site your artillery.”
Originally attributed to Napoleon, it would not surprise me to learn the Corsican truly said such a thing. After all, Artillery was his field of expertise before he became a general or an Emperor. The Emperor of France was a Red Leg. Eat your hearts out cavalry.
Napoleon understood that when your artillery is properly sited on an elevated position, you’re able to increase the distance you can loft a round. You also increase the visible distance at which you can effectively sight an enemy force approaching your position. During the Napoleonic Era of armies moving to contact in lines and columns, this mattered a great deal. The more time your opponent spent observed, under accurate artillery fire, the more likely you were to shatter his morale and slaughter a goodly number of his troops. Read more