Books review Because this war in Iraq is said to be as much a media operation as it is military, decoding what we think we see and hear becomes a necessity. Images that Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media, second edition (Praeger), is a starting point. Essays on “Stereotypes from September 11, 2001” show why negativity toward particular groups escalates in times of crisis. Beware of icons and images becoming mindless justifications. Staging the War: American Drama and World War II (IU Press) is a candidate for one-book/one-nation. If you really want to know who we are, warts and all, read it. When Albert Wertheim zeroes in on lines, a play can reflect nuances ordinarily overlooked. Consider this from the narrator in Our Town: “That boy Joe Crowell ... goin’ to be a great engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died in France — all that education for nothing.” W. Douglas Hartley grew up in a small Southern Indiana town. Departures (Xlibris Corp.) is his story of “A World War II Family Crisis on the Homefront.” A brisk description of life in the early 1900s makes the ultimate change all the more stark for our nation as well as a family bound to stereotypes and “how things must be.” Earl A. Reitan served in WWII as a combat rifleman in Italy and France. His memoir, Riflemen on the Cutting Edge of World War II (Merriam Press), bears the stamp of a historian-memoirist. Clearly a cautionary tale, one worries about the abilities of people in charge. Doesn’t anyone learn from the past? While John Keegan contends that “war is ultimately about doing, not thinking” in Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda (Alfred A. Knopf), Phillip Langer and Robert Pois in Command Failure in War (IU Press) conclude that “The one inescapable fact is that regardless of advances in equipment, there remains that human element which can subvert the contributions of any technology.” John Sherman’s War Stories: A Memoir of Nigeria and Biafara (Mesa Verde Press) brings us back to the point of images — those conveniently forgotten photographs of skeleton-children as victims of genocide. Words of War: Wartime Memories from the Civil War Through the Gulf War (Guild Press) “represent the personal tragedies of ... war for families, communities and the nation” that continue in e-mails and letters dated this very day. Yet, it’s the Civil War that keeps re-appearing to fester the sores of unfinished business. The most compelling is Jeffry D. Wert’s Gettysburg: Day Three (Touchtone). “This war is hard to account for. It is no telling how it will end or when it will end,” writes Sidney Richardson to his parents in Georgia, in 1863, an eerily applicable sentiment 240 years later. It was a 28-page magazine, Voices from the War Zone: IUPUI journalism students report from the Balkans, summer 2001, that set me on this year-long marathon of war books. “Croatia has lost a generation to bullets, mortar and madness,” concludes Doug Jaggers, specifically alluding to one: a 26-year-old singer whose tapes are played in the Osijek train station bar by her bereft, destitute father. Voices brought me back to the 1999 report, Crimes of War: what the public should know (Norton), with its opening statement: “In the early 1990s ... War had returned to the European continent. First in Croatia and then Bosnia and then ...”

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