Although I think our critiques of Hedges are not identical, I’m glad to hear this; to see that I’m not alone in having a problem with Hedges despite that I’m very much share the same critical space.
I don’t see his writing quite so much aggressive as just strident and repetitive, and his prose wooden. I also found myself feeling as if there was some larger point he was building towards in an argument, but left un-articulated. His “War is a Force that gives Us Meaning” is an example. I kept waiting for him to synthesize all of these anecdotes and stories and base assertions in to something more incisive, and I felt like it never came. It was just a roiling litany of war crimes; a kind of witness’ statement. It’s good journalism, less effective as a long-form essay in cultural criticism.
I just wish there was more to him than that; I feel like his work points to more than that, and he sets up his work as if to suggest there’s more than that…but then…there isn’t. At least to me.
A journalist who covered the Vietnam war and was a truly gifted writer was Michael Herr, who wrote “Dispatches,” in which one will find many of the roots of “Full Metal Jacket.”
It is a blazing, profound collection of essays, brilliantly written, incisive, moving, harrowing…truthful. As pure writing, a magnitude better than Hedges, and also more important philosophically for the questions it raises.
Yikes…sorry…didn’t expect to write a critique of Hedges. I do like him and value his work; not trying to downplay his contribution. I just find him frustrating that’s all.