The runaway success of a sniper's gruesome memoir speaks volumes about the wars the US wishes it were in.
Back in the mid-1990s a marine public-information officer took me into a secret watering hole at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that served as a private clubhouse for snipers. There was, however, one key condition: Nothing I saw and heard there could be used in a piece I was then writing for the Washington Post Magazine.
And for good reason, it turned out: The barroom walls featured white-on-black Nazi SS insignia and other Wehrmacht photos and regalia. The marine shooters clearly identified—privately, anyway—with the marksmen of the world’s most infamous killing machine, rather than with regular troops. If there was a joke in there, I missed it.
On one level, this pride of craft made a certain sick sense. Killing is a sniper’s very specific job; his mantra is “One shot, one kill.”
And by his own account in
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