Give War A Chance (Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind’s Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice and Alcohol-Free Beer) – P.J. O’Rourke

Posted by Frankly Francis on December 25, 2009 under Books/Authors | Be the First to Comment

Give War A Chance


Through various quotes through the years, I’ve been aware of irreverent conservative writer P.J. O’Rourke.

One of my favorites is from an address at the Cato Institute in 1993 (well worth the read at: ), where Mr. O’Rourke endeared himself to me with this statement – “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it is free.”  Tremendous foresight into the future, which is now of course.

So, when I got my hands on “Give War A Chance” I did not wait long to read it.  The introduction is entitled, “Hunting the Virtuous – And How to Clean and Skin Them.”  Did I mention irreverent?  And that is just the introduction.

Published in 1992, a little while after the end of Gulf War I, it is a collection of various articles written regarding the fall of communism (The Birth, and Some of the Afterbirth, of Freedom), some random topics (Second Thoughts), comments about various public figures (A Call for a New McCarthyism), and his dispatches from the Gulf War (Give War a Chance).

Most I thoroughly enjoyed.  I can’t say that his comments on Dr. Ruth, Lee Iacocca, and Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter were the best parts of the book.  Still, I am looking forward to reading anything this guy cares to write or has written.

I picked the book up at the Salvation Army (one of many sources of books for me).  It turned out that it was originally a gift to John from Kate & Chuck.  Kate or Chuck or Kate & Chuck had inscribed the following to John: “This guy may be 180 degrees off of what any of us thinks on some issues, but he does think, and he puts his radical thoughts down so flamboyantly, you’re bound to get some fun out of what he says, whether you agree or not.”  Well said Kate & Chuck!

I would like to think that P.J. O’Rourke has been significantly influenced by the writing style of Kurt Vonnegut, but I do not know if this is true, nor am I inclined to research it.

The title appears to come from something O’Rourke saw during the interminable waiting period from the amassing of troops in Saudi Arabia to the actual beginning of the ground war.  Some Marines had written in the desert sand, “Give War A Chance.”  Marines just want to have fun.

In closing, to give you a taste of P.J. O’Rourke, the following dedication appears before the introduction:

Like many men of my generation, I had an opportunity to give war a chance, and I promptly chickened out.  I went to my draft physical in 1970 with a doctor’s letter about my history of drug abuse.  The letter was four and a half pages long with three and a half pages devoted to listing the drugs I’d abused.  I was shunted into the office of an Army psychiatrist who, at the end of a forty-five-minute interview with me, was pounding his desk and shouting, “You’re fucked up!  You don’t belong in the Army!”  He was certainly right on the first count and possibly right on the second.  Anyway, I didn’t have to go.  But that, of course, meant someone else had to go in my place.  I would like to dedicate this book to him.

                I hope you got back in one piece, fellow.  I hope you were more use to your platoon mates than I would have been.  I hope you’re rich and happy now.  And in 1971, when somebody punched me in the face for being a long-haired peace creep, I hope that was you.

Having been a hippy orientated peace creep in my youth and then resorting (when I got past the drugs and free-love, not that there’s anything wrong with drugs and free-love) to a very conservative constitutional & fiscal perspective, coupled with a very liberal personal liberty point of view, I get where this guy is coming from.  You might too.