It’s a dangling preposition, but soldiers are what I write of.
Clearly I do not agree with Samuel Johnson’s opinion that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Nor do I believe what a somewhat jaundiced colleague told me years ago, that academia is the second-last refuge of scoundrels. One way or another, and sometimes at the same time, I have been in touch with both worlds all my life. Teaching for years in a military institution squared the circle for me, fastening the link between my academic background in the Classics and an abiding interest in the warrior’s life, ancient and present.
Speaking of links, I am also one of those people who for various reasons find themselves at or near borders no matter what. I grew up between two provinces in central Italy, lived on the northen Italian frontier afterwards, and then along the river parting two American states (Illinois and Missouri); in the following years I was a resident of that border republic par excellence which is Texas. And then came Ohio, old gate to the West, and then Vermont, adjoining Canada. When in Italy, I live on a piece of land that for over a millennium marked the dividing line between two townships, two provinces, two regions, two states, and sits on the 45° parallel to boot.
It seems to me that this being on the intriguing edge between cultures says much more about me than any other biographical detail.

I may appear from the outside fascinated with irreconcilable dichotomies: war and peace, past and present, right and wrong, male and female, power and lack of power... But just as it is true for geographical boundaries, that a no man’s land manages to exist always, I am fully aware of all that swarms and thrives between opposites: the juice is there, the spark and the sting inhabit it, and it’s there that as a person, a writer and a sometime scholar I’d rather stroll.
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