full of surprises, full of tragedies, andrnfull of life. A model of biographicalrnwriting, it will sureh’ be the standard lifernof tlie frontiersman for a long while torncome.rnGregory McNamee’s latest book isrnNamed in Stone and Sky: An ArizonarnAnthology (University of ArizonarnPress).rnMen at Warrnbv H.W. Crocker IIIrnQuartered Safe Out Here: ArnRecollection of the War in Burmarnby George MacDonald FraserrnLondon: Harvill/HarperCollins;rn225 pp., £16.00rnSoutherners have a special feeling forrnthe pathos of history. Thcv knowrnwhat it is like to have a lost cause, a historyrnthat might be gone with the windrnbut IS still resonant and noble for allrnthat. The Southern Confederacy’s almost-rnallies, the British, also have a sensernof the pathos of history. But where thernSouth’s has come from defeat in war,rnBritain’s has come from victory—a casernof winner take nothing.rnhi his latest book, just publi.shed inrnEngland, George MacDonald Fraserrnwrites with the bracing honesty of a formerrninfantryman who wants the truthrnto be remembered and not swallowedrnin the memory-hole created bv purveyorsrnof political correctness. The bookrnbegins, “The first time I smelt Jap wasrnin a dry-river bed. . . .” Smelt, jap. Ohrndear. George MacDonald Fraser isrnsomeone for whom the truth isn’t a politicalrnplaything; it is what he saw, heard,rnexperienced, and . . . smelt. He doesn’trnintend to eater to the prejudices of thernyoung or the ideological, and he’s in nornmood to apologize for himself or his fellowrnsoldiers. For him the truth is merelyrntrue. That makes him a dangerous,rnbut entertaining, fellow.rnFor those not familiar with his literaryrncorpus, George MacDonald Fraser is thernauthor of the joyous Flashman novelsrnchronicling the robust rovings of a roguernof an English officer in Queen Victoria’srnEmpire, an accomplished writer ofrnhumorous short stories describing lifernin a Scottish regiment and its disgracefulrnPrivate MeAuslan, and the cheekyrnscreenwriter of such mo ies as The I’lireernMusketeers, The Four Musketeers, andrnOctopussy.rnQuartered Safe Out Here is the truernstory of Eraser’s own service as a 19-yearoldrninfantryman in the 17th Black CatrnDivision of General Slim’s 14th Army;rnthe story of brave, swearing old sweats,rngrumbling and fighting their wayrnthrough the heat, the rain, the snakes,rnthe leeches, the mosquitos, and the Japs.rnIt was a good war for Fraser, and he isrnproud of his service in what he reckonsrn—with its Gurkhas, Africans, and Indiansrn—was the most multinationalrnarmy since the time of Rome, and onernjust about as experienced at keepingrnthe imperial peace. When George MacDonaldrnFraser went to war in Burma, hernwore the ring of his great-uncle, buriedrnin Afghanistan, who had gone to warrnunder General Roberts. His grandmotherrngreeted Chamberlain’s declarationrnof war with a simple sigh: “Well,rnthe men will be going awav again,” asrnthey had gone awav and died in thernCrimea, in all parts of the tropics, andrnon the Western front in France.rnNear the end of Quartered Safe OutrnHere, Fraser makes a case—like most servicemenrnwho risked their lives on thernblood-soaked beachheads of the Pacificrnand in the malarial swamps of the FarrnEast to defeat Imperial Japan—in favorrnof America’s dropping of the atomrnbomb on Nippon. But he also imaginesrnwhat the result would hae been if hisrnown section—a rough but stead’ lot ofrntough Cumbrian borderers w ith a naturalrntalent for scrounging their wayrnthrough life—had been told that thernwar could end either immediately withrnthe atomic destruction of Hiroshimarnand Nagasaki or more slowly through anrnindefinite continuation of the sloggingrnwarfare that had occupied them for thernlast six years in monsoon-drenched junglesrnagainst an enemy that preferred arnbanzai charge to surrender:rnThey would hae cried, “Aw, fookrnthat!” with one voice, and thenrnwould have sat about, snariing,rnand lapsed into silence, and thenrnsomeone would ha’e said heavily,rn”Aye, weel,” and got to his feet,rnand been asked, “Weer th’ ‘ellrnyou gan, then?” and given no reply,rnand at last the rest wouldrnhave got up, too, gathering theirrngear with moaning and foul languagernand ill-tempered harkingrnback to the long dirt bloodrnmiles from Imphal boxes to thernSittang Bend and the iniquity ofrnhaving to do it again, slingingrntheir rifles and bickering aboutrnwho was to go on point, and “Ah’srnaboot ‘cd it, me!” and “You, yernbugger, yc’re knackered afowerrnyou start, you!” and “We’ll a’ getrnkilled!” and then they would havernbeen moving south [to fight thernJapanese in MalavaJ. Becausernthat is the kind of men the were.rnAnd that is whv I have writtenrnthis book.rnThey were not the sort of men who, asrnFraser points out, would have neededrn”‘counselling’ on how to ‘relate’ tornmembers of the opposite sex after a fewrnmonths in the desert,” as Americanrntroops required in the Persian Gulf War.rnIndeed, Fraser does an excellent jobrnof garroting the modern idiocy of “sensitivity”rnand “counselling.” And he,rnthough an old newspaperman himself,rnhas harsh words for an overly inquisitivernmedia obscenely poking their microphonesrnin the faces of war-weary grunts,rnstraining to find “post-traumatic stress”rnamong every Tom, Dick, and Harry. AsrnEraser notes, “One wonders how Londonersrnsurvived the Blitz without therninterference of unqualified, jargonmumblingrn’counsellors’. . . . Fortunatelyrnfor the world, mv generation didn’t sufferrnfrom spiritual hvpochondria—butrnthen, we couldn’t afford it. By modernrnstandards, I’m sure wc, like the wholernpopulation who endured the war, werernripe for counselling, but we were lucky;rnthere were no counsellors. I can regret,rnthough, that there were no modern televisionrn’journalists,’ transported back inrntime, to ask Grandarse [a member ofrnhis section]: ‘How did you feel when yournsaw Corporal Little shot dead?’ I wouldrnhave liked to hear the reply.”rnAnd he is just as good at demolishingrnthe presumption of the acadcmicswith-rneondeseending-tones who are wontrnto explain, to the delight of the historylcssrnyouths in their charge, how thernprimitives of England in the I940’s werernfed a steady diet of propaganda that “inflicted”rnlasting damage on “intelligence,rnhonesty, complexity, ambiguity, andrnirony.” “The British people,” Fraser remindsrnus, “were not stupid; they hadrnbeen to war before, and knew all aboutrn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn