To read Benjamin Busch’s memoir Dust to Dust is to confront the big, hard questions of humanity: life and death, peace and war, family, honor, duty, and the frailty of all of it. Busch writes of his life’s often surreal interactions with nature and its destruction, whether that destruction is being wrought by land mines or natural erosion.
A Marine Corps combat veteran whose tours of duty took him from desert to desert, outpost to outpost across the world, Busch has had several brushes with death, and in his prose, he can be eerily detached from the carnage he has see. Yet despite his misgivings about, say, the second Iraq War, the one-time Vassar student and upstate New York resident is open about the magnetism of the military to a precocious child who lived for adventure and purpose.
After combat, Busch has taken his childhood pretensions full circle as an actor, appearing — often in a costume version of uniform — on the screen in programs like The Wire. Dust to Dust is now out in paperback from Ecco.