Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony 2012 & The Unknown Soldier

As a man who is wholeheartedly against the use of child soldiers, no matter what the war is, I am glad that the Kony 2012 video has gone viral and is educating us Americans about the atrocities that Uganda has suffered from Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) over the past couple of decades.

Sure, there's a few problems with the documentary, such as its glossing over how fucked up Uganda was before Kony ever showed up, and how the bulk of the child soldiers in Uganda has since grown up and retired (these are most likely men you would NEVER want to have an argument with in a bar). However, the fact remains that Joseph Kony is an evil bastard, he's always been an evil bastard, and this fucker needs to go to jail for his crimes against humanity. So please, if you've got 30 minutes to spare, check out the video and educate youself on some horrible human atrocities.

Or....go and read Joshua Dysart's "The Unknown Soldier" from Vertigo/DC Comics.

See, I've known about Joseph Kony and his horrific LRA movement for awhile now. Don't worry, I won't do the whole "I knew about Kony even BEFORE it was cool!" thing, because that's just sickening.

I started reading Joshua Dysart's "The Unknown Soldier" a few years back, because I had read a lot of good reviews for it and I was interested in reading about some African craziness. Much to my surprise, "The Unknown Soldier" was steeped very heavily in real world history, as Joseph Kony and his LRA movement were the evil driving force in the book.

Now, I read "The Unknown Soldier" in the trade paperback formats. Each book ended with a good 3-5 page history of Uganda, child soldiers, Kony, the LRA, etc. Not only was this one hell of a good book to read, it was also extremely informative. By the end of the series, I felt that I had known a side of the conflict that not many others would, and I owe it all to the intensive and meticulous research that Joshua Dysart did for his story.

"The Unknown Soldier" was very difficult for me to read. The first volume nearly brought me to tears with its vicious and visceral subject matter. The first volume ends with a poor girl who you've grown to care for being led off by the LRA to have her arms chopped off and be raped, while the "Unknown Soldier" declares war against Joseph Kony and his child soldiers. Let me say that again....The Unknown Soldier declares war on children.

This was some heavy shit to be reading about, and I felt humanity's filthy stain on me when I finished reading it. I almost didn't buy the second volume to the story, because I was truly horrified by the subject matter. But being the sick bastard and glutton for punishment that I am, I forged ahead and read the rest of the series. The books are displayed proudly on my bookshelf. Yes, this was a horrific and sad story (the ending still sends chills down my spine when I think about it), but it's also one of the most challenging and rewarding that I've ever read.

"The Unknown Soldier" was a great book, and it taught this American suburban white boy a thing or two about the true horrors of what happens in Africa, as opposed to just the bad things we see on the news. I highly recommend anyone who isn't afraid to read about the human condition to check out the four volumes of "The Unknown Soldier." You can get them cheap on Amazon. Every book is worth it.


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