For Real Friday: War and Fiction

War is often a glorified concept. That’s not unique to our culture. As long as there have been stories there have been tales of battlefield heroes. The stories make the battles sound exciting and paint clear heroes and villains. Those stories are used to gain support and of course to recruit more men.

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The problem is that war isn’t that simple. Nothing is black and white and the cost of that battlefield excitement is high. Soldiers come home traumatized if they come back at all. The causes fought for have more to do with politics than honor, and the people with the loudest voices on the subject never have to see the front lines.

But of course I’m coming from a very privileged position on the topic. I’ve never been in a situation where a war needed to be fought to stop horrible things from happening to me. The wars in my lifetime have been wars on concepts or fought far away amongst other people. I don’t see the price on either side, I hear about it. I hear about the soldiers coming home with PTSD, every now and then I catch horrible images on the news, but for the most part, I go about my life blissfully unaware of the horrors in the world around me. My glimpses behind the curtain are limited to documentaries, the news, and fiction.

Books like the Hunger Games or pretty much anything by Walter Dean Myers paint pictures without the rose colored glasses of glorification. It’s amazing and terrifying how much fiction can shape our perception on things we have no experience with. Can you think of ways fiction has been used to paint pictures of war?

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