I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

Still image from Apocalypse Now where Robert DuVall says I love the smell of napalm in the morning

Smells like ..... victory. (Great line!)



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Apocalypse Now
Robert DuVall
1979

Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?
Lance: What?
Kilgore: Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.
[kneels]
Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ‘em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like
[sniffing, pondering]
Kilgore: victory. Someday this war’s gonna end…

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      Baldacci does a workman's job in this latest in his Camel Club series

      David Baldacci
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      I got Divine Justice as a birthday present. I don’t think I’ve ever read Baldacci before, so I was looking forward to the experience. After all, he was lauded on the cover as a “#1 New York Times Bestselling Author!”

      After finishing it, I have very mixed feelings about the book.

      First, I liked that it was set in Virginia, seeing as how I live here. All the places struck chords with me and the color and background of the book was wonderful to absorb. Baldacci knows how to write quick portraits of people and places around the state.

      I also liked the fact that the book was a thriller. There’s nothing like the fast turns and quick plot changes in a good thriller to keep you reading. And this book really kept be reading! Good job.

      However the book itself — and I’m not sure exactly how to say this — was trivial. It was a great airplane or beach book because little or no thinking on the reader’s part was required at all. Parts of the book reminded me of a Scooby Do episode, complete with the characters driving around in a van. The bad guys were comically bad and the good guys were always saving orphans from drowning. It was a bit trite and one-dimensional.

      But pop fiction is like that. And if I sighed several times at the lameness of the depth, the book did it’s job: it kept me reading it. I managed to finish in just a day or two. Reading books like this is a great way to put your brain in neutral for a spell.

      The only other bad part was that this was book #3 in a series about some group called “The Camel Club”. Perhaps if I had read the earlier books this one would have seemed more deep. I don’t know. What I do know is that Baldacci was able to pull me along even though I hadn’t read any of the other books.

      The plot is basically a cat-and-mouse, chase book wrapped around a murder mystery. I won’t go into details — after all, the fun part is reading it yourself — but it delivers on the action, suspense, and thrills.

      I might pick up another Camel Club book — I think Baldacci has already written another. Reading Divine Justice reminded me that there’s nothing like a nice summer book to help you relax.

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        cover picture of the book wartime by Paul Fussell

        Understanding and behavior in the second world war

        Wartime is a history book unlike any other history book I’ve read. It’s about World War II, but it’s not about battles, or strategies, or famous generals, or heroic or tragic narratives. Instead it’s about how things were: how people acted, what their opinions were, what they read and what they sang. It’s a “social history” — an overview of the lives that soldiers and civilians lived. In this way I found it a much more personally meaningful book than many of these other types of books.

        Fussell covers every topic imaginable. Things like condom usage and sex, drinking, popular magazines, rationing, listening to the radio, the horrors of combat. Yes, at times he does get a bit tedious: he seemed to go on and on at length about the WWII-era magazine “Horizons”, and he (to me at least) also seems to be a bit of a snob.

        My opinion of the overall tone at times was this: old cranky academic surveying the social landscape of the war.

        But for those flaws, it still was a very good book. It was filled with great anecdotes and pieces of trivia. Many times I got to read how people lived through it in their own words. For the first time I started to feel that I knew what it was like to have lived through the war, instead of just being able to recount various stories about the conflict.

        More importantly, it allowed me a better view of some of the things people complain about today, like the allied fire-bombing of Dresden or the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. It’s been more than 70 years, and all of the people who participated in these events are now gone. If we are to understand the reasons for the things they did, we need to read more books like Wartime.

        So if you have a bit of patience, this is a book that will make you think about important things. The Second World War was an incredible event that left lasting scars on humanity. Wartime is highly recommended.

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