Banned Military Blog Wins Prize

    May 16, 2007

Two weeks ago, the world found out that the U.S. Army had placed extensive new restrictions on soldiers’ blogs.  Now the book of Colby Buzzell, a former machine gunner, has won an international contest – and Buzzell’s book is based on his blog.  Oh, the irony.

Irony being the domain of the British, we can thank them for this story; the BBC, the Times Online, and The Guardian, among others, have been all over it.  For the report behind the Army’s original crackdown, you can read our WebProNews coverage, but the main thing to know is that the Pentagon wanted to outlaw uncensored military blogs.

Then the rules were tightened again.  “[T]he defence department went further and announced it was blocking access ‘worldwide’ to 13 communal websites, including YouTube and MySpace from military computers and networks,” reported The Guardian.

Those decisions seemed questionable (at best) as they were first discovered; Buzzell’s accomplishment – winning the Lulu Blooker Prize – has made them appear barbaric.

“Reviews have compared My War [Buzzell’s book] to the classics Catch22, M*A*S*H and Michael Herr’s Dispatches,” noted the Times Online.  And “[t]he late Kurt Vonnegut, Buzzell’s idol and the author of one of the 20th century’s most abiding portraits of war in Slaughterhouse-Five, wrote him a fan postcard before he died last month.”

Still, even if military bloggers have lost their battle, My War’s success has been held up as a victory for the blogosphere in general.  As reported by the BBC, Nick Cohen said, “It’s something of a triumph for blogs over traditional media.”