Eastern Mojave Vegetation Those Who Kill From Afar  
 

Tom Schweich  

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  About two-thirds of the way through Arturo Perez-Reverte's gritty 2007 novel about the siege of Breda, 1624-1625, the author really tells us how he feels about war as hell. Though told in the voice of Iigo Balboa, the 15-year-old retainer to Captain Alatriste, the author's feelings are clear.
 
   That is what happened that night when Sebastian Copons slit the throat of the wounded Hollander and I shrugged away Captain Alatriste's hand. That was how, scarcely without realizing, I crossed that shadowy line that every lucid man crosses sooner or later. There, alone, standing before that corpse, I began to look at the world in a very different way. I knew myself in possession of a terrible truth that until that instant I had intuited only in Captain Alatriste's glaucous gaze: He who kills from afar knows nothing at all about the act of killing. He who kills from afar derives no lesson from life or from death; he neither risks nor stains his hands with blood, nor hears the breathing of his adversary, nor reads the fear, courage, or indifference in his eyes. He who kills from afar tests neither his arm, his heart, nor his conscience, nor does he create ghosts that will later haunt him every single night for the rest of his life. He who kills from afar is a knave who commends to others the dirty and terrible task that is his own. He who kills from afar is worse than other men, because he does not know anger, loathing, and vengeance, the terrible passion of flesh and of blood as they meet steel, but he is equally innocent of pity and remorse. For that reason, he who kills from afar does not know what he has lost.   
  On reading this paragraph, I had to put the book down for a few minutes to put my thoughts back together.

I thought about our current president, who must be totally isolated from the effects of his war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, thinking about this too seriously is probably a lost cause.

I recommend the book. It is: Perez-Reverte, Arturo. 2007. The Sun Over Breda. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. At your local library or book store.

If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  


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Date and time this article was prepared: 2/10/2017 4:56:04 PM