Straight from the depths of embeddedness comes Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War (Putnam, $24.95), Evan Wright's group portrait of a Marine Corps platoon that fought in Iraq last year. In Wright's view, this sample of the front line of the American military "would be virtually unrecognizable to their forebears in 'The Greatest Generation.' . . . These young men represent what is more or less America's first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents. Before the 'War on Terrorism' began, not a whole lot was expected of this generation other than the hope that those in it would squeak through high school without pulling too many more mass shootings in the manner of Columbine." Near the end of Wright's stay, one member of the platoon concluded, "War doesn't change anything. . . . This place was [expletive] before we came, and it's [expletive] now. I personally don't believe we 'liberated' the Iraqis. Time will tell." And yet this same naysayer, Wright reports, has since signed up for another mission.

-- Dennis Drabelle