Band of Brothers
Just finished reading my first Stephen Ambrose effort-- perhaps the most famous, given the BBC (HBO?) series...
1.) War is Hell. Ambrose's descriptions of what these men endured is brutal in so many ways.
2.) The dilemma of having a "tough but effective boss". Captain Sobel was so disliked that his men were making plans to kill him with not-so-friendly fire in battle. But Ambrose makes clear that his methods also allowed them to develop into fine soldiers and a fine unit-- and thus, he is responsible for much of their success. Ambrose depicts the soldiers as excited about how good they were but ambivalent about how they got there.
3.) The morals of those who served. Ambrose argues that they were far less likely than other soldiers to engage in rape, unnecessary killings-- and to some extent, looting. But Ambrose makes quite clear that many of the soldiers struggled in some other barometers of (more personal) immorality: drinking, cussing, and womanizing. This is not at all to diminish what they did-- or even to judge it. (On the latter, I can't imagine what it'd be like to face death, at a young age, so far from home and with the ability and peer pressure to do knuckle-headed stuff.)
But to draw application to the on-going debate about how good the 1950s were: it would seem that a relatively small proportion of these men were "Christian" (beyond the cultural sense). This connects to an observation I've made frequently-- that the children of the (dreaded) 1960s came from the parents of the 1950s. And although that may have been a more moral time-- with people united under the god of civil religion and civility-- it was not a particularly Christian time in our history.