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Would today's letters from the frontline be as interesting as those in the past?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Marlat, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    THere are many books available which compile the letters from the frontline of war back to the people at home. They tend to be from wars deep in the past, the American Civil War, WWI, WWII etc and contain well written stories from soldiers, often not much more than teenagers describing their experiences and feelings.

    Would the letters from the frontlines of war today be as interesting to us and what would they be like?

    Discuss if you will.
  2. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA

    EDIT: I think the letters from past wars are so interesting because they're also a glimpse into real people living during a specific time in history. I think todays letter will be interesting now in context of comparison to what we see on the media. They will also be interesting to look at in the future from the same historical context.
  3. +1
  4. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Do you think that less people send letters (ie more frequent communication through email / phone) means that the quality of the prose and the detail will be lower than in the past and thus mean that there is more "crap" and less "good stuff" from which to compile interesting compilations of letters?
  5. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Oh well I was assuming that this would be a compilation of emails, texts, and stuff. IMO the quality of the prose would definitely be sub par by comparison, but nonetheless this is an accurate representation of society at this point in time. If it was limited to letters, it might be short book.
  6. bigthemat


    Jan 25, 2008
    Salt Lake City
    I think it would be interesting, but for me personally not as much as say WWII. My grandfather is a vet and reading his stuff, listening to his stories, it is really neat. Also kind of that old feel to everything, i guess nostalgia, is fun too. As for today, I really don't have a connection with any soldiers so it wouldn't be as personal to me.
  7. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    yes. maybe not as grammatically correct, but i think they are just as poignant and eloquent in their own way.
  8. I think the quality of written communication will be low for another reason: thatnks to the lack of cupholders in our military vehicles, they are forced to write letters while holding an open alcohol container and trying to navigate a Humvee through minefields.

  9. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    I find your attitude towards the troops incredibly disrespectful. I guess you must support the terrorists.
  10. Yes - those on the frontline are experiencing psychological trauma in a very different way. Whether or not their experiences would ever be published for the masses to consume is questionable because of the circumstances surrounding their deployment. It is more likely that letters, e-mails, and journals will likely be found and altered for publication at a much later time.

    Originally Posted by Mark Latimour
    Do you think that less people send letters (ie more frequent communication through email / phone) means that the quality of the prose and the detail will be lower than in the past and thus mean that there is more "crap" and less "good stuff" from which to compile interesting compilations of letters?

    Well, a lot of the documents that were published following the major wars of the 20th century were written by extraordinary individuals that took traumatic experiences and simply wrote about them. I am reading Requiem For Battleship Yamato at the moment and it was written in the very terse bungotai style that was used primarily for official documents. Its not meant to be quality prose, but it sure is powerful.
  11. I get regular letters(emails) from the frontline, and while I haven't read any memoirs/books on past war letters, I can tell you the ones I get are very interesting.

    I'll summarize a few...

    "Jim" is leading a Marine platoon in Iraq. He spends most of his time working with Sheiks/tribal leaders and the "police" force. The leaders want payment for any and all info and are inherently corrupt. They are very difficult to deal with due to the cultural gap. The "police" have no idea how to fight or shoot. They shoot from the hip and their tactics are horrible. "Jim" is responsible for getting them trained as well.

    The dogs are one of the most disturbing things in his area of Iraq. They are obviously feral and in horrible condition...maimed, dying, suffering horribly - bad enough that they stick out as horrible in a WAR ZONE!

    Jim's adjacent platoon leader and others were recently victims to an IED. One died, one friend lost a leg, others also injured. The one with the leg already had confidence issues, especially involving girls, despite his good looks. His future is not bright. Jim is VERY bitter..VERY. Since he's been there, when asked what we from the states can send him, he only asks for blankets, candy, toys, and things for the kids and people. Aside from being humane, it's good PR when trying to win over a town and get them on your side instead of the extremists. His most recent email said that he swears to God he will be burning every last bit of these things ever sent in the future. He has seen the dark side of things hit close and it's obvious retribution, revenge, and hate have taken over.

    Anyways, all the emails are interesting, and it's been a window into the psyche of one soldier as time passes over there.:(
  12. RedCoatMonster


    Aug 14, 2007
    Thomas, OK
    I believe they would be rather interesting considering the unique situation we are in in this war. But I would probably blow my brains out trying to decipher the terrible spelling and grammar. Americans just dont write as well as we used to.
  13. MyUsernameHere

    MyUsernameHere ?????????????

    Nov 3, 2007
    Lexington KY
  14. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I'm not sure. The conflict certainly isn't as compelling as say, World War II. There is no "will our homeland be gone if we fail?" contemplating today.
  15. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    From what I've read, yes.

    The grammar in war letters vary widely for any given war. It depends on which letters (or collections) you've read.
  16. I can say with full confidence that you missed my joke. On the plus side, the recipient got it and the overall opinion of me and my "contributions" to this site continues to slide to its inevitable resting place where I'm the only one left laughing.

  17. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    This is often my goal when making jokes. Start with something that makes everyone laugh and then continuing to expound on it until only about 2% of people find it funny. That's known as the "Dennis Miller Zone".

    As for letters from our troops, I've read a few from students I taught that enlisted and while they're all compelling, they vary wildly in quality. Ask a long time English teacher about how precipitously writing skills have dropped (on average at least) in the age of IM and text messaging.

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