Several years ago, while reporting from Vietnam, I headed into the equivalent of a live minefield — a future construction site littered with unexploded ordnance left from what the Vietnamese call the “American War.” I went there to cover the work of a demining team from Project Renew: a 16-member Vietnamese unit, overseen by Australian explosive ordnance disposal supervisor.
That day, the team disposed of an M-79 round — a 40 mm high-explosive projectile fired from a breach-loading, single-shot U.S. grenade launcher — making the country a little safer. Having seen kids permanently scarred by old ordnance and having interviewed grieving parents who lost children to old American bombs, it was gratifying to witness the folks from Project Renew in action.
I see that Project Renew, which calls itself a “humanitarian mine action organization dedicated to cleaning up explosive remnants of war,” now has a Tumblr. Please consider following them. They do great work at great risk to shield future generations from the horrors of the past.
\For my second installment of finds from the 48-cent “bargain bin” of NYC’s Strand Book Store, I offer this fantastic Orwell volume.
When he’s at his best, it’s damn hard to find a better writer than the word-artist formerly known as Eric Arthur Blair. Clear, concise, powerful sentences elegantly woven together — that’s Orwell. As a writer, it’s always humbling to read him. But this collection also has unpublished material, like private letters to friends. And guess what? The prose is downright pedestrian. It almost makes you feel better, until you realize that Orwell must have agonized over word choice, sentence construction and edited himself like mad. So if your sentences are clunkier and are filled with extraneous words and over-worn phrases, it means you must just be lazier than ol’ George was. Sigh.
Published by Penguin in 1970, this volume was — due to copyright restrictions — not available for sale in the U.S. (It retailed for $2.15 in Canada and $1.70 in New Zealand.) While you may not be able to find this particular edition much anymore, you can find plenty of Orwell selections at The Strand and elsewhere.
If you find yourself in the mood, check out The Strand’s Tumblr here or just click the pic above. For more on Orwell, check out this page from the BBC.
NEW YORK CITY CANYON—TALL BUILDINGS JUT INTO THE AIR; YELLOW CABS AND OTHER VEHICLES CRAWL THROUGH THE CONGESTED STREETS BELOW: 05/1973 (NARA)