Briefly Noted: Bureaucracies at War


David Simon and Ed Burns, co-creators of the celebrated HBO crime drama The Wire, have brought their seven-part miniseries about the first 40 days of the Iraq War to DVD. Based on the book by former Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright, Generation Kill offers a hyperrealistic portrait of the Marines' elite First Recon Battalion as the unit led U.S. forces into Iraq in 2003.

Though both Burns and Simon opposed the war, the series is light on editorializing. Ever eager to skewer the absurdities of cherished institutions (as The Wire did so masterfully), Generation Kill is more a critique of bumbling military bureaucracy (with a particular affinity for the soldiers on the ground who have to work around it) than a commentary on the war's politics.

Praised by critics for its storytelling and by Iraq war veterans for its accuracy, the eight hours do not contain many battle sequences. In fact, the series' greatest accomplishment may be the way Burns and Simon craft such compelling television from the war's day-to-day monotony.