“It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.”
Jingo is an anti-war book in the guise of an absurdist farcical satire.
I’ve been working on getting though the Discworld books since I was sixteen, which is now exactly half my life ago. Fitting that I am also now halfway through Terry Pratchett’s most famous series of books, and just now really getting to the ones that start hitting harder. Judging from this book, a Pratchett book will never be serious, but their silliness is more and more being undercut with a pathos that is riveting, an anger that drives the story. That combo of laughter and rage is something I’ve not found anywhere else but a Pratchett book. And the more the series goes on, the bolder he gets.
The inciting incident of Jingo is a long-lost island floating up from the middle of the Circle sea, right smack dab in the middle of Ankh-Morpork and Klatch, and both nations claim ownership of it. This leads, of course, to war. Both nations start plotting and scheming. But this isn’t a war book like normal war books. This is a book that backs ass backwards into war, after first lighting everything on fire and then everyone plays football*.
*British football, not American. And I’m being quite literal here.
But really all of this is just an excuse for Captain Sam Vimes to get involved. After all, if war is a crime, then who better to go after the criminals and stop it than a copper? And he brings the whole Watch with him. It’s not just war that Pratchett sends up here. He also takes jabs at racism, sexism, nationalism. Lots of -isms.
I always have such a hard time writing about these books. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just because they’re so chock full of everything. Characters, one-liners, elaborately set up satirical gags. Or maybe I just personally have a hard time writing about humor. It’s so . . . ineffable.
The only thing here is that I wasn’t super in the mood for this type of book when I picked it up. I put it down several times to read other books, and had a hard time picking it back up (but always really enjoyed myself while reading). Next time I pick one of these books up (next up is The Last Continent, a Rincewind book, so I’ve got to be extra in the mood for that) I’m gonna make sure I’m in the mood. I only have so much Pratchett left.