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Posted on Jul 11, 2008 in Books and Movies

Generation Kill – The HBO Miniseries; an Interview with Evan Wright and Eric Kocher

Gerald D. Swick

Alexander Skarsgard as Sgt. Brad "Iceman" Colbert and James Ransone as Cpl. Josh Ray Person in the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill." Photo by Paul Schiraldi/HBO.

My intent was to take guys with very difficult material to viewers and make viewers like them, but without falsifying them.

The bestselling, award-winning, military history Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War, debuts as a seven-part miniseries on HBO, beginning July 13 at 9:00 pm Eastern and Pacific Time and continuing each Sunday night through August.

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Generation Kill tells the story of the men of the U.S. Marine First Recon Battalion, who were the "tip of the spear" on the drive from Kuwait into Iraq’s interior. They expected a conventional war against the Iraqi Army; instead, the conflict immediately became a series of firefights with insurgents who blended into the civilian population and set ambushes.

Riding with the Marines in their open-topped HMMWVs (Humvees) was Evan Wright, a journalist on assignment for Rolling Stone. He stayed with the Marines through the long days and nights, the blistering heat, the freezing cold, and the firefights. His articles became the basis for the book Generation Kill, which won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award in 2005, given to an outstanding nonfiction book pertinent to USMC history.

The title Generation Kill is a play on Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation: Wright has said he wanted his title to remind people that "soldiers are designed to kill and destroy property." In his opinion, "any time you send a group of Americans to war, they automatically become the Greatest Generation."

The miniseries follows the book very closely—Wright was consulting producer. It is a compelling, unflinching, often discomfiting story of professional warriors doing what they’ve trained to do. There are no fictional or composite characters.

Viewers will love this miniseries or hate it—maybe a little of both—but they won’t be indifferent about it. It has more testosterone than a John Wayne film festival, less political correctness than a Married with Children marathon, and more profanity than a rap concert. The Marines rag on each other unmercifully, sometimes with racial remarks, often with allusions to homosexuality. They openly talk about wanting to kill and are sometimes disappointed when they don’t get to squeeze the trigger. Viewers used to sanitized war films about reluctant warriors may be uncomfortably jarred by the blunt depiction of modern soldiers in a war zone.

Audiences who watch more than the first episode will begin to see that much of this is élan-building, part of creating a unit identity. Mission orders and rules of engagement change frequently. Logistics failures deny the men such critical equipment as weapon lubricant and batteries for night-vision goggles. The one thing they can depend on is each other. At the heart of the miniseries are Marines doing their job and having to find emotional balance between the death and destruction that job requires and the pain of inflicting unwanted civilian casualties in the confusion of a combat zone.

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2 Comments

  1. Its good and real as can-be, my sister son is in Iraq been in that place for 2 years, U.S.Army combat unit 82nd AB.

  2. In your opinion, what’s the best movie ever created?

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  1. Wounded Warriors: James Wright and David Rozelle » Armchair General - [...] Generation Kill – The HBO Miniseries; an Interview with Evan Wright and Eric Kocher [...]

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