The Washington Post

Slog lit

When traveling, one tries to read fiction associated with one's destination (i.e., if you're going to Paris you read A Moveable Feast). When slogging through a work project, one needs to read slog lit -- stories of people hacking their way through a wilderness and felling giant trees to create a small clearing in which the sun can shine and they can grow a feeble patch of corn before expiring from a frontier virus. Also, war books. Men on the march, getting trench foot, suffering from battle fatigue, while generals see their plans confounded at every turn.

Or better yet, a combination of the two: Books about military engineers who have to fell the forests to create the roads for the Sherman tanks to get through. There really should be more books about logistical support -- let's make a mental note of that.

Interior supply lines: That's what makes all the difference in war and peace, right?

There aren't many military folks in my lineage -- I come from pacifist stock. But there were a lot of frontier people, farmers -- Indiana, Pennsylvania -- the kind of folks who cook big pots of food when not breaking the soil behind a team of horses. Up at 4, get a lot of work in before first light, three squares a day, shucking corn by lanternlight in the barn, sleep, repeat. About the only thing those people bequeathed to subsequent generations was the ability to work hard. To slog.

Which is a resource of some value.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."


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