At the moment, I’m off in a blasted Afghanistan landscape, following an Army infantryman as I try to figure out why he would leave a remote, fortified outpost and . . . just . . . go.
I’m about halfway through Serial: Season 2, and I’m hooked. This is the story of Robert Bowdrie “Bowe” Bergdahl, United States Army soldier who was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan and Pakistan after deserting his station from June 2009 until his release in May 2014.
In the hands of Serial’s creators, this story becomes a layered, gripping story. The questions are endless. The possible explanations are confusing. It’s all about duty and honor and what you’re told to do versus what you think is the right thing to do. It’s about loneliness and war and what it takes to be a soldier in the 21st century.
Maybe this isn’t funny stuff—believe me, it’s the opposite—but as we continue to send soldiers into harm’s way, in what seem to be intractable conflicts with no end in sight, this podcast is incredibly helpful in exploring many of the issues our armed forces face.
Also: it’s a hell of a good story, period.
One other thing: the Serial website has a rich Listening Guide to accompany the podcast episodes. I almost started to dig into the images, recordings, and background information. But I’m going to wait until I’m done—what’s so exciting about these Serial podcasts is the way they tell a story using only audio. I’ve got my idea of what the setting of that blasted Army outpost looks like, and I don’t really want to see a photograph, yet.