Brendan I. Koerner's "Now the Hell Will Start
" follows the true-life story of Herman Perry, a young black playboy from Washington, D.C., drafted into the Army and shipped to the Indo-Burmese jungles to build the Ledo Road, a Sisyphean attempt to connect Allied supply depots with China during World War II. Years of nigh-on-forced labor in the sweltering, tiger- and headhunter-infested slog caused many of the soldiers to clutch consolation in cheap drugs, getting high in dark, wet tents while their uniforms literally rotted off.
Perry succumbed. Worse, his drug use provoked insubordinance against the white officers who commanded the predominantly black recruits, awarding him multiple visits to the brig. Horribly, after a year of hard work, incessant rain, flippant officers and cheap opium, Perry — provoked — killed a superior officer. He escaped into the jungle, certain he'd be captured within hours. Instead, he became the focus of one of the most notorious manhunts of the war, living with the mountain tribes of headhunters and becoming a folk hero some called "The Jungle King."
Koerner's an amazing reporter — my first mentor, along with Choire Sicha, to drum into my head how effective informed, dense writing could be — and has a knack for transmuting reams of research into taut narrative. (He was one of Slate.com's excellent "Explainer
" columnists for years.) It doesn't hurt that Perry's story cuts a path through subjects with which I am endlessly entranced: racism, drugs, survival, war, sorrow, and death — all wrapped in one man's outrageous, tragic adventure.
It should be implicit since I'm writing this in the first place, but "Now the Hell Will Start" is recommended! If all goes to plan, we'll get Brendan online soon for a Q&A session on the #boingboing IRC channel.
Photographer Chris White takes readers behind the scenes of making his surf photography book Dark Light.
Eric Schlosser’s book and film Command and Control look at the terrifying prospects of nuclear friendly fire, where one of America’s nukes detonates on US soil. It also looks at what might happen if a false alarm gets relayed to a trigger-happy general or President. He starts this New Yorker piece with a terrifying story […]
Published by the fine fringe culture explorers at Daily Grail, the new essay anthology Spirits of Place features stories by the likes of Alan Moore, Maria J. Pérez Cuervo, Warren Ellis, Gazelle Amber Valentine, Iain Sinclair, Mark Pesce, and many other mutant thinkers riffing on how we connect with the locations we inhabit. You can […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]
Custom coffee vessels are the perfect piece of office flair, but it’s just a matter of time before your VOTE FOR PEDRO mug will start to lose its relevant wit. Why not have a new one every day, with whatever silly nonsense you want sticking off the sides? You can save big on your novelty […]
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]