Commentary

June 29, 2012

In bookstores

Fly Over – ‘War Reporting for Cowards’

Last Starbucks before Baghdad

by Airman 1st Class Kate Vaughn

Imagine going to basic training, and during your first week, you’re told it’s time to go to war, for real.

When Chris Ayers, “The Times” (London) reporter received a call from his boss asking, “Do you want to go to war,” he knew the answer would change his life, forever.

In “War Reporting for Cowards,” Ayers shares his hilarious autobiography, introducing us to the “long line of cowards” he comes from and acquainting us with his hypochondriac outlook on life.

Torn from the comfy, cozy world of celebrity gossip, palm trees and martinis, Ayers finds himself in a land far away from Los Angeles, getting ready to accompany a U.S. Marine Corps battalion as they (little did Ayers know) prepare to invade Iraq.

Before Iraq, however, Ayers got his first big break in New York City as a Wall Street correspondent for “The Times.” This is where the book takes a not-so-light-hearted turn as Ayers recalls the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Standing on Greenwich Street, gawking in horror at the events unfolding before him, Ayers’ only thought is of one thing: “My only comfort, out there in the ash and the smoke, was that wherever the war was declared, I wouldn’t be there to cover it.” Little did he know what the future held for him.

Shortly after the first Anthrax outbreak, in the very building where his office was located, Ayers decided it was time to leave New York City.

Obsessed with the longing for safety and comfort, Ayers takes a much-coveted assignment to Los Angeles as a celebrity reporter. This assignment, naturally, doesn’t last very long.

After arriving in L.A., and all too quickly, Ayers finds himself on a plane headed to Kuwait.

After spending a week or so in one of Kuwait’s nicest hotels, it was time to head north to Camp Grizzly, where he met his unit: the 2nd battalion, 11th Marines, and wondered if they would be pleased to see him. He doubted it.

Lacking any military training whatsoever, the simplest of military maneuvers turned into a daunting task for Ayers.

“Then came another miserable chemical attack drill,” Ayers said. “I got the feeling the Marines were just yelling ‘GAS! GAS! GAS!’ for kicks. Still, I needed all the practice I could get.”

Between the moments of sheer panic, and the moments of absolute hilarity, Ayers keeps the reader both entertained and on their toes the whole way.

The book has its dark moments, and Ayers holds back nothing when it comes to the sights and sounds of tagging along with the Marines.

If you’re looking for an honest portrayal of the military through the eyes of a civilian, you’ll want to pick this
one up.



About the Author

Kate Vaughn
Kate Vaughn
Kate Vaughn is a full time radio and television broadcast producer and fan of self-help books and historical biographies. Some of her favorite writers include David McCullough, author of "1776" and "John Adams," as well as columnists George Will and David Brooks. Her favorite movies include "Game Change" and "The Dark Knight."


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