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Nature and Nurture

". . . What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?

"The difference . . . lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not."

—Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Troopers

War has always fascinated people, both those who are relatively comfortable with it, "hawks" as they are called, and those who abhor it, "doves." Whenever there is a war, ratings for television news go through the roof. People flock to watch war, war, war, and the bigger the explosions and the brighter the tracers the better. Whether they are cheering for their side or protesting the horrors, people cannot seem to get enough of war. The very nature of war defines both the witnesses and the participants.

But when referring to war, or being in the military, it seems odd to use the term 'nurture.' Yet writers are always and everywhere products of both their innate self and their experiences. In this anthology, we have selected a gamut of notable writers who've not only bore witness to war, but also whose experiences of war and the military stretch through the majority of the Twentieth Century and into the Twenty-First, from World War I to the current conflicts in the Middle East, ranging from reprints written by Grand Masters to original fiction from the current generation of warriors. The purpose is not only to share entertaining stories but to explore the mind of the warrior through the lens of authors who have experienced, at the very least, military life and, in most cases, the sting and clash of warfare.

Writing about war can be classified into various tropes. Some writers of military fiction are cynical about the nature and purpose of war, some realistic in recognizing that it exists and that, sad is it may be, war is sometimes necessary and even just. Few in this day and age, or for much of the twentieth century, glorified it. War was too common and devastating throughout that century, and too omnipresent through the media of television, film and radio. Yet even in the most cynical of writing about war and warriors there is an underlying thread of majesty to the warriors themselves. No matter how unpleasant their personal experience of war, writers tend to find essential value in the warriors themselves, both their protagonists and even the antagonists, both in their very nature and how they handle the environment which fostered them.

For the rest, we leave it to the readers to decide.

Bring on the war.

—John Ringo, February 2010

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