He believed in mission. But . . . he did not believe in it as an intellectual imperative, or even as a professional standard. Mission . . . was an abstract notion that took meaning in concrete situations.

You hate it, yes, but your eyes do not. Like a killer forest fire, like cancer under a microscope, any battle or bombing raid or artillery barrage has the aesthetic purity of absolute moral indifference-a powerful, implacable beauty-and a true war story will tell the truth about this, though the truth is ugly. To

Linda was nine then, as I was, but we were in love…it had all the shadings and complexities of mature adult love and maybe more, because there were not yet words for it, and because it was not yet fixed to comparisons or chronologies or the ways by which adults measure such things…I just loved her. Even then, at nine years old, I wanted to live inside her body. I wanted to melt into her bones — that kind of love.

He felt crazy sometimes. Real depravity. Late at night an electric sizzle came into his blood, a tight pumped-up killing rage, and he couldn’t keep it in and he couldn’t let it out. He wanted to hurt things. Grab a knife and start cutting and slashing and never stop. All those years. Climbing like a son of a bitch, clawing his way up inch by fucking inch, and then it all came crashing down at once.

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