ON CRITICS -
To paraphrase Dr. Lukacs, we find that it is true, especially about criticism, that because of the vocabulary and the practices of twentieth-century psychology and thought, the attribution of motive [has] become a pestilential habit. [i] What follows is archetypal:
On 24 February 2013, a critic uploaded to AMAZON his evaluation of Punchy Company. He wrote, “I served in Korea during much of the time covered in this book and found the narrative poorly crafted and the details not worth reading. It doesn't really capture the Cold War atmosphere or the challenges of being hours away from a shooting war.”
Now history records that as of 27 July 2017, 23,376 days or 561,024 hours passed since the end of the Korean War; the cease-fire: 27 July 1953.
That cease-fire was remote even on the author's first duty day in Korea, 12 February 1969: It was put in place 5,679 days or 136,296 hours earlier.
“…hours away from a shooting war?” This criticism has about it the murmur and odor of melodrama, as do all other such censures. Punchy Company is a simple story. It is not drama. It is not fiction. Nowhere does the author claim any glory for hmself. No. Instead, he reports what happened, where it happened, to whom it happened, and how it happened. He offers, of course, observations throughout, but these rest on the wide-ranging experience and greater intelligence of historical others whom he calls upon to bear witness.
Military service is just that: service. It is rarely heroic. [ii] It is often courageous. Overwhelmingly, it is simply routine labor, though very important. The goal: Deterrence through readiness. If deterrence fails? Go to war at the drop of a hat! Punchy Company is a lens through which the reader can see the way it was.
[i] Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter I, Page 8, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.
[ii] “Heroism is often confused with physical courage. In fact, the two are very different. There was nothing heroic about [Ferdinand] Magellan’s death. He went into that last darkness a seasoned campaigner, accompanied by his own men, and he was completely fearless because as he drew his last breath he believed ─ he knew ─ that paradise was imminent. Similarly, the soldier who throws himself on a live grenade, surrendering his life to save his comrades, may be awarded the medal of honor. Nevertheless, his deed, being impulsive, is actually unheroic. Such acts, no more reflective than the swift withdrawal of a blistered hand from a red-hot stove, are involuntary. Heroism is the exact opposite ─always deliberate, never mindless.” [My italics]― A World Lit Only by Fire, The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Copyright © 1992 by William Manchester, Little Brown, Page 287.