Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Splendid Sentences, Part 2: Stanley Karnow on the Vietnam Memorial

Stanley Karnow chose to begin his reportorial and historical masterpiece, Vietnam: A History, with an image of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. The third sentence epitomizes the Memorial's significance:
The names of the dead engraved on the granite record more than lives lost in battle: they represent a sacrifice to a failed crusade, however noble or illusory its motives.
Karnow's choice of crusade could not be more apt a comparison, as he concludes the sentence with noble and illusory, simultaneously contradictory and complementary descriptions of the two-century religious wars nearly a millennium earlier.