There are two sides to every war: the side we like hearing about, and the side we don’t.

If Staff Sergeant Robert Bates did indeed slay 16 Afghan civilians, nine of them children, what led him to do it? Did the horrors he witnessed in four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan play a role? Military officials, and the general public, have begun exploring and debating that issue, and will be doing so for months. The larger question: are war atrocities an indictment of individuals, or of war?

It’s an important question.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports today that bookstores are being flooded with memoirs of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan—memoirs offering “insider looks at combat and harrowing real-life drama.” The books are being snapped up by readers “ready to embrace stories that accentuate heroism instead of the often dreary developments reported in daily news accounts,” the NYT says. Noting the recent success of such books, publishers are rushing to line up more.