PRINT November 1991


The motive [of the atrocity story] . . . is always either openly or symbolically sexual—the bombing of Rotterdam or Düsseldorf is not an “atrocity,” while a solitary rape is. . . .

— Alex Comfort, Art and Social Responsibility, 1943

But the line the narrator pursues is that of male action. Everyday life, the world of women, shines through only in the gaps between the descriptions of battle.

— Christa Wolf, Cassandra, 1983

[the iowa]

In April 1989, a gun turret exploded on the American battleship USS Iowa during practice firing in the Atlantic. The entire gun crew was killed. In the naval inquest that followed, suspicion fell on 1 of the 47 dead sailors, a gunner’s mate named Clayton Hartwig. The largely circumstantial evidence—Hartwig had allegedly displayed a spare-time obsession with explosives and death—led the Navy’s forensic technicians and the FBI to a startling but perhaps predictable

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