I'm reading "Devil's Guard" right now which is fascinating. The book is supposedly based on a true story about an ex-Eastern Front S.S. commando who fled Europe after Germany surrendered. He then joined the French Foreign Legion and was then stationed and fought in Indochina.
The whole book is fascinating. Everyone except the British come out looking pretty bad. Germany looks brutal, France looks incompetent, America looks naive, and all the Communist forces get portrayed as bankrupt in all ways. The book has some definite rings of truth, but also of some exaggeration or outright fabrication. Some of it probably accurately describes what happened after WWII, where other parts are fantastically exaggerated.
I did like one particular exchange. The German officer was offered some Nationalist Chinese advisors to help him make some battleplans, but he wasn't sharing much information with them. One of the Chinese officers, Major Kwang, notices this and talks to him about it, saying that he can be trusted and wants to help. The reply -
"We have been around here for a long time, Major Kwang. We have outlived the average life expectancy of the Legionaires, and I think we are still around because we took nothing for granted - never!"
The major smiled politely. "Then you regard every stranger guilty until proven innocent?"
"We regard only one thing, Major - our own survival factors," I said. "We learned that a long time ago: to think, to plan, to calculate, to evaluate and act - everything related to survival factors. Friendship, relations, rank, sentiments are all only of secondary importance. We are living on borrowed time and abiding by the law of probability, which is the only law we carefully observe. Had we done otherwise, we would now be dead heroes instead of surviving experts. For that's what we really are, Major Kwang: neither invincible daredevils nor supermen nor heroes - only survival experts. But survival is the most important thing in any war."
"We are living on borrowed time and abiding by the law of probability, which is the only law we carefully observe. Had we done otherwise, we would now be dead heroes instead of surviving experts."
Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" is a fascinating work. It's required reading for much of the American military officers and law enforcement personnel. There's many counter-intuitive points in there, including that the vast majority (approximately 80%) of soldiers during the American Civil War and World War II never actually fired with the intent of hitting the enemy.
This paragraph stood out to me -
[In Dr. Jerome Frank's] Sanity and Survival in the Nuclear Age, […] he points out that civil wars are usually more bloody, prolonged, and unrestrained than other types of war. And Peter Watson, in War on the Mind, points out that "deviant behavior by members of our own group is perceived as more disturbing and produces stronger retaliation than that of others with whom we are less involved." We need only look at the intensity of aggression between different Christian factions in Europe across the centuries, or the infighting between the major Islamic sects in the Middle East, or the conflict between Leninist, Maoist, and Trotskyist Communists, or the horror in Rwanda and other African tribal battles, to confirm this fact.
I remarked, on the way in, that we were the only people that wanted to be there. Being a defendant must be a bad time, and I doubt being a plaintiff is much better. Jurors are getting a couple bucks a day to disrupt their lives, and it's just another day at work for everyone else. But we were there voluntarily, because we wanted to see what a trial was like.
Everyone at the courthouse was friendly, but it clearly wasn't a place meant for visitors. We walked around trying to find someone to give us information, and finally found a friendly janitor. He had no specific suggestions, but said that we ought to just open courtroom doors until we find a case we'd like to see.
We walked in in the middle of the case, and I immediately felt as though I was somewhere I shouldn't be. A trial seems like such a personal and intimate thing, deciding one's fate. We sat up front.
The witness being questioned was a sixty-year-old woman. Her questioning was slow because it went through a Chinese interpreter, was interrupted by her sobbing, and was hindered by her clear displeasure at being there. It turned out that although she was the victim of a purse-snatching, she wasn't the one prosecuting. It was the city's DA.