Ambush at Fort Bragg - Tom Wolfe, Edward Norton Fascinating to read reviews of this novella on Amazon. They are all over the map.

My first taste of the national media happened in 1967. I was in college and active in the Civil Rights movement, less so in the budding anti-war crusade. There had been a demonstration announced for that afternoon in front of Franklin Hall, the administration building, so, more out of curiosity I went on over. There were perhaps 10 students milling about and an army of television cameras and media. Obviously, no demonstration was ever going to happen, so the media folks orchestrated one. Clustered a bunch of students together and basically told them to act like it was an event. Clever editing would have made it look much more real than it was.

My second up hand taste was attending a school-board meeting several years later during which some contentious issues were due to be discussed. The television media dutifully showed up at the beginning of the meeting, shot a couple of minutes, and left. The meeting continued for several more hours. When I watched the result on the news that evening, I was stunned. The clear impression left by the reporters was that they covered the entire meeting and what they presented was the meat of the discussion. Total bullshit.

Now I wait a couple of years and read a book about any event or sequence of events and never watch so-called situations develop as hosted by Wolfgang Blitzkrieg.

So I was receptive to Wolfe's short novel of a homophobic killing and the resulting investigative report. The story follows the producer of the "Day and Night" show, a national network investigative reporter series featuring a prominent female anchor. The show sets out to find and reveal the killers of a gay soldier at Fort Bragg, a sprawling military base in North Carolina. (My son went through airborne training there and the descriptions of the surrounding community sleaze that caters to the soldiers, is dead on.)

Wolfe lays out the entire story through Irv's eyes trenchantly displaying how the events are rearranged and altered to get the story they wanted, without any of the moral complexities of the real event. The redneck killers are not portrayed sympathetically, but there motivation is revealed with more subtlety and complexity.

You can tell from reviews that many people took sides and the book raised their ire, some at the portrayal of the soldiers, some at the media, others at the "pornography " (I didn't get that one at all.) But, Wolfe ambushes everyone.

Not one of Wolfe's best, but an intriguing story nevertheless.

A note on the audio. The book is read by Ed Norton who does a credible job, especially with the southern accents. I don't know who the idiot was who added the most irrelevant and distracting background music, but heshould have his license revoked.