Just finished reading “Ivan’s War, Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945”, by Catherine Merridale (Picador). For those of you who might still be trying to understand the scale, enormity and shear incomprehensibility of those six, bewilderingly catastrophic years, you might want to pick it up at your local read store. Ivan’s war starts out slowly but once Catherine Merridale gets her grove on she manages to portray, with great skill, the Red Army and the men who filled its wretched ranks.
Believe me, I tend to be more easily mystified than heartbroken, but she managed the unthinkable and flipped this state of mind on its head. I soon found myself mourning and grief-stricken for the victims of this supremely Soviet state, and its uniquely echanting combination of totalitarianism, Stalinist ideological rigidity, and the absolute, unrelenting carnage brought onto them by Hitler’s equally mind numbingly hateful brand of collective insanity. There may never be any words strong enough to express the misery of the “frontovikis” during and after the Soviets’ “Great Patriotic War”.
Ever-since the fall of the Soviet Union, the reconstituted Russian state has opened its archives to greater scrutiny and researchers like Ms. Merridale have been allowed to dig in and conduct interviews with former Red Army soldiers and officers. Russian and foreign historians will no doubt have a field day with its archived decades but what is certainly not going to change is that there is, and will always be, far more ways to die at the hand of man, than there are ways for men to peacably live by it.
Given that we are such damm bloody apes, let’s stop pretending and go for a rename. How about Homo hemohabilis? Sounds nice, and beside, chicks will dig it…..and to further my case; it is widely believed that reds and oranges are meant to wet our appetite and stimulate our rage. I presume that way back when, the sight of a hominid’s blood soaked hands, still whispers sweet nothings to this primate and comforts the murderer to live and mate another day. I’m down with that….. ‘Hominid’s delight’…!
Which reminds me: Odile Crick, illustrator and lifetime mate of Francis Crick, of “Watson, Crick and DNA”, LLC… died July 5th, in La Jolla, California. She sketched life’s double helix for her husband who could not draw for shit (Francis H. C. Crick died in 2004.). I guess that’s how you might be remembered if your husband and his lab mate helped discover life as we know it. I guess that’s better than, “she once cooked Francis some steak and peas….!”.
Her DNA has dearly departed but is survived in a brother, Philippe, and two daughters, Gabrielle and Jacqueline; two grandchildren; and four step-grandkids(her DNA, not exactly, but she loved them just the same anyway). BTW, Watson’s sister, Betty, was recruited to type Watson and Crick’s research paper on DNA, keeping it as they say, all in the family. Can’t wait to read that obituary….