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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Thursday, December 8

Hacksaw Ridge

And I thought Saving Private Ryan was as bloody as a war film could get. Wrong. Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge out-bloodied Private Ryan by three- or four-fold. If I didn’t know that Desmond Doss was a real person who performed nearly unbelievable feats of bravery and stamina, I’d have said that Gibson overdid the horror and idiocy of war. If I didn’t know that Doss actually saved 75 lives on that bloody Okinawa ridge, I’d have said, “C’mon, Mel. Aren’t you overdoing it a bit?” But apparently he didn’t embellish on Doss’s heroism nor on the number of those he saved, earning for Doss the first Congressional Medal of Honor for a conscientious objector serving as a medic in an infantry combat unit. If Gibson wanted to demonstrate the blood, horror, and idiocy of men killing each other in a senseless war, he succeeded admirably. “Carnage” takes on a whole new meaning. As awful as that battle on Hacksaw Ridge must have been, I can’t believe it was actually that awful. I hope not.

In the first half of the film, we get to know Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the young Virginian who met and fell in love with nurse Dorothy Schultte (Teresa Palmer). We learn about his reasons for never touching or firing a weapon. We learn about his unshakable convictions that prompted him to enlist in the army even though he swore he would never carry a weapon. We saw the brutal way he was treated by his fellow trainees and the way he stuck to his beliefs no matter what they and his superiors did to him. The second half of the movie was almost entirely devoted to the battle on Hacksaw Ridge, with the artillery bombardment from off-shore ships, with hand-to-hand combat with rifles and machine-guns and bayonets, with mortar shells and hand grenades and napalm, with countless wounded and dying men from both sides. It was bloody awful.

Why do nations engage in war? Why do men and women agree to participate? What did Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito hope to gain? Domination over all the people of the world? To what end? What would the world be like today if the Axis had succeeded in this war? To what end do the men and women of ISIS hope to accomplish, and what would the world be like if they should succeed? We need a worldful of people like Desmond Doss who want only to save lives, not take them. I hated the violence of Hacksaw Ridge, but I needed to see it. You need to see it too.
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