Bernard-Henri Lévy, Living the War and Writing It – The Rules of the Game

France invented an intellectual about the Dreyfus affair.

The United States invented the veteran writer with battles in Vietnam, and later in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I think of Carl Marlantes and his Return to the Matterhorn page.

Horse Yellow Birds Kevin Powers and End of mission By Phil Clay.

I think of the American tradition of a demobilized hero haunted by the horror of his experiences, full of inexplicable regrets, and published his first short story. grant, trials Esquire, then, when he has talent, he engages in literature.

And I remember Elliot Ackerman, a 42-year-old New Yorker who, after a decade in the Marines and CIA special ops, was fully armed. Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor and others purple heartAt the end of the Obama era, he became one of the masters of the genre working in the White House and then in the most influential think tanks in Washington.

It’s called his seventh book, released by Penguin Press Act Five. The end of America in Afghanistan.

This is essentially the story of the fall of Kabul, which needless to say is Saigon, a self-inflicted embarrassment that Trump, then Biden, decided more than a year ago to end it with war. actually won.

But the book is more than that.

Because the beauty of the story is that it unfolds in three or even four registers.

A father who promises his children their dream vacation in Italy and keeps his word despite the events: the Forum, the toy shop at the Coliseum, the Baths of Caracalla, Venice.

An American hero who knew that his country had made a historic mistake by abandoning Kabul, and that it would turn into a sin if he left behind tens of thousands of journalists, translators or proofreaders who believed his word. his departure, the Taliban’s number one target: we see him feverishly plugged into his laptop at night, when his family sleeps, or between two museum visits during the day; enter the WhatsApp and Signal loops where a network of former comrades tries to evacuate pilots from around the world; “Yeti” the giant, “Knuckles” the ex-sergeant or “Holland” the eccentric, making urgent contact with these old comrades on the ground, collecting candidates for departure, placing them on buses, escorts; and we see him glued to his screen, tracking the GPS position of the convoy, losing it, finding it, shivering at the recognition of the stranded passengers, gasping at the last checkpoint, a few meters from the airport, when they finally understand. passed.

There is a third voice, the voice of a veteran who feels the ghosts of his past in Afghanistan and before that in Fallujah, Iraq, rising within himself: here he is on the move in a Humvee; where he, along with ‘Tubes’, ‘Dud’ and ‘Super Dave’, prepares to retrieve the body of a slain mate, whom naval etiquette forbids leaving behind; the death of brave Sergeant Dave “Monez” Nunes in the case, alive, who will blame himself for the rest of his life for not being able to go and retrieve the remains himself; and here he relives his last conversation with his friend and “Jack,” to whom he came to announce that his day was over, that he was leaving the army, and yet—and if his boss had not forgiven him for his farewell to arms. ? and today, by a strange twist of fate, does not the fate of the 109 people he has vowed to save from afar depend on him? And then the Roman gates join the South, the North, the Gate of the Nameless Abbey, the severed heads of the mosaics of the Torcello basilica irresistibly reminding him of the fate that awaits his Afghan friends if they fail to cross. The gates of Hamid-Karzai airport, pious and dark thoughts about the indignity of war pass through it; that as a highly decorated soldier he would care little for the ancient commandment not to kill in his life; Evil in History; the fall of empires; or the best way to get Doug, Megan, Blecksmith, and all their friends back from Fallujah…

This construction is not only scientific.

He is incredibly romantic.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a Roberto Benigni film where the hero places imaginative treasures at the gates of hell to entertain his young son and convince him that life is beautiful.

Sometimes we are in the best scenes Bugsy, Barry Levinson’s film is split between the kitchen where Warren Beatty is making his son’s birthday cake and the living room where his mob associates arrive to bring him to justice.

When he describes the sunset over Shevan, the landing of black hawks in the dust of the battlefield, the refrigerator turning into a morgue, the confused screams of the wounded and those who come to save them, or the agony of a man. brother in arms, we are on the best path of martial literature The Naked and the Dead By Norman Mailer or Ernest Hemingway.

This book should be translated into French.

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