We may enjoy heroics reading or watching about war but ever wondered about the catastrophic impact of wars on the humans involved in them? And imagine its brunt on the frontline soldiers holding their M1 rifles weighing 10 pounds for hours toward possible enemy hide out behind a mile wide wall of Pine and Oak trees ready to kill or get killed by an unseen bullet.
It does not end here. As soon as the bullets from the other side start wheezing through the leaves of the thick forest, the finger on the trigger starts to tremble, the shuddering shoulder forces the soldier to readjust his posture, and some find ample seconds to pull out the photograph of the loved ones from their left chest pocket to have a final look supposedly.
In most of the war related art and publications, the heroic side of the war or soldiers has always been promoted. Every year, we have several new movies on the accounts of world war II, celebrating any of the heroic victories of specific war fronts. However, we have yet to see or read more about the different aspects of wars that impacted the lives of millions of soldiers involved from multiple countries in world war II.
How many Americans know about the claims of US’s great war historian SLA Marshal who concluded that in the combat of world war II, only 15 to 20 percent of soldiers fired their weapons, and an even smaller percentage fired to kill?
Nevertheless, the author Richard McMaster in his new book ‘Aaron’s war’ has covered the subject with great depth and intensity where war factors other than ‘kill or get killed’ have been vastly covered.
The book revolves around a young soldier Aaron, who is the son of Jewish immigrant parents and has arrived in Germany to take part with the allied troops against Nazi oppression.
The author has penned Aaron as a young boy who had always averted violence since childhood and has always tried to maintain peace, just like the Aaron (Moses’ brother) mentioned in the Jewish Bible was known for love and spreading peace.
Despite Aaron being a nonviolent and peace loving kid, out of his immense patriotism, he found it obligatory to enlist as a soldier to take part in the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, destroying 188 US aircraft, Killing 2,403 innocent Americans and wounding 1,178 others.
Describing Aaron as a six foot tall boy, known as one of the strongest in his school, matches the societal criteria of all the pre-requisites of masculinity where people assume a man’s physical appearance as Aaron’s as an Alpha male masculine. However, the Author Richard McMaster has beautifully countered the idea of masculinity by informing the readers that the same strong boy, Aaron, regretted shooting a mere cardinal. And on another instance, he deliberately avoided shooting a buck on a hunting trip with his father.
We come across books from a similar genre which has focused on the post war PTSD among soldiers but the author of “Aaron’s war” has successfully taken other factors into the discussion, including the pre-war situation of a soldier’s life and the one he faces in the war on day to day basis.
The book may seem predictable, assuming that a lot of stuff regarding World war II has been told. Still, the author has done a great job with the story as he tells about conflicts a young man endures as he grows up and then joins a great war leaving behind his family and the love of his life.
The readers experience the emotionally intense stories of the losses on the battlefield. The most important is the loss of quick friendships founded on respect and tragedy. This loss does not end on the battlefield, but the butchered bodies of the friends with mutilated faces continue to haunt Aaron whenever he closes his eyes.
Another new and good part is how the book did not only talk about the PTSD or the war he fought with the allied forces but the war that he will fight with himself until he breathes his last.
The book is a must read for anyone looking to read about war & soldiers through a new lens as it takes you on a personal journey of a soldier, never read before.