Now The Hell Will Start

June 9, 2008


Now the Hell Will Start by Brendan I. Koerner

Greetings all.
Due to an ongoing combination of blog related work, family life (I got me some kids ya know), reading, giving insulin to my diabetic cat (what has become of me??) and various and sundry stuff (including the fact that the industry in which I have been employed for over two decades seems poised at the moment on the verge of implosion), I am behind in my responsibilities herein.
This shall of course be remedied right now.
I finished ‘Now the Hell Will Start’ sometime in the middle of last week, and jumped immediately into my current book,
I first heard about this book via a post on the always interesting BoingBoing (the source of many recent reads) and as I was on the cusp of booklessness I ordered it immediately. The fact that it showed up less than two days later (as I was finishing my previous book) says something about both the nature of kismet and the vagaries of Amazon’s delivery system (I said to my wife if I was waiting for a kidney transplant it never would have showed up that quickly).
I’m glad I picked this one up for a few reasons.
First and foremost it’s a great story, involving a US GI (Herman Perry), driven to the brink of madness in the jungles of Burma who snapped, shot and killed an MP and took off into the jungle where he lived amongst the headhunters (yes, real headhunters) and became the subject of a major manhunt.
Second, it revealed a hidden chapter (at least to me) of history with a number of intriguing side stories that might have made for interesting books on their own.
Third – and probably most important – ‘Now the Hell Will Start’ is an antidote to anyone who thinks that this country’s race issues were solved after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The stories of the disturbing and inhumane treatment of black GIs during WWII – institutional and otherwise – are positively mind-boggling. It amazes me when reading about how these soldiers were treated that they didn’t take up arms against the government upon their return to US soil.
There are several lessons to be learned from this book, including the unbearable savagery of war, the arrogance of men who thought that they could conquer the Burmese jungle, and the willingness of people who clearly knew better to treat their fellow citizens like garbage.
Brendan I. Koerner is an excellent storyteller (and researcher) and ‘Now the Hell Will Start’ ought to be force fed to anyone who thought Barack Obama’s pastor was “too angry”. If I’d been treated the way these men were I’d spend the rest of my life finding the people responsible and addressing the issue in the harshest physical terms possible (seriously)
Great book.

Now reading – Excelsior You Fathead: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd


  1. I’d be interested in learning what you think of it as I spent five years researching, writing, trying to get it published and promoting it. I’m working on a follow-up not. By the way, as I have to explaind to most people, it ain’t no biography–as I wrote clearly on page 14. So don’t believe what reviewers, interviewers, and my publisher said.

    Are you a Shep fan?

  2. Mr Bergmann
    I’m loving the book, and I understand what it was you were doing (as opposed to “straight” biography). I’m only about halfway in, but I’ll post a review when i’m done.
    I am a HUGE Shep fan (I used to listen as a kid in the early 70’s)

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