From The Beacon: Service remembered in suggested books
This is the time of year to honor and pay tribute to our men and women who are serving and have served in our armed forces and to especially remember those who died in service to our country. There are several important dates coming up to remember: Memorial Day, observed the last Monday in May; D-Day, June 6; Flag Day, June 14; and Independence Day, July 4. I've gathered a list of inspiring book recommendations for you to consider as we honor those who serve.
Rick Atkinson traces the American military's odyssey from a mostly untested, green group of recruits to a battle-hardened, experienced fighting force in "An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943" and"The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944." He also wrote an excellent chronicle of United States Military Academy at West Point graduates coming of age during Vietnam, "The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966."
In "D-Day: June 6, 1944," "Citizen Soldiers" and "The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys who Flew the B-24s over Germany," Stephen Ambrose gives us a portrait of the rank and file enlisted soldiers and lower ranking officers who fought in World War II and the specialists who served behind the scenes. It's oral history at its best.
The war against the Taliban in Afghanistan is recounted in two books. "Horse Soldiers: the Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan" by Doug Stanton describes the mission of a Special Forces unit that secretly entered Afghanistan soon after 9/11 and battled the Taliban on horseback in rugged and mountainous terrain. They were dangerously outnumbered by the enemy and faced potential ambushes in villages and valleys.
Marcus Luttrell, the author of "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10," was a Navy SEAL who was deployed to Afghanistan with his team for a special operation. One team member was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. What transpired on that mission was one of the most amazing stories of survival that you will read.
David Halberstam, who died in 2007, was the highly acclaimed author of "The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War." This is a history on what has been called "The Forgotten War." You will learn about the main political and military leaders on both sides of the conflict, their brilliant and disastrous decisions, and the soldiers on the front lines who endured much suffering.
"Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War" by Karl Marlantes is a recent arrival at the library and proving to be very popular. Although a novel, it is a vivid portrayal of a lieutenant and his men in Bravo Company, fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. The author is a decorated Vietnam veteran.
There are two other military fiction writers of note: W.E.B. Griffin and Jeff Shaara. Griffin is a prolific writer on the U.S. Military, particularly actions in World War II, where his Men at War series focuses on the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, and the Corps Series salutes the Marine Corps in action at Midway, Guadalcanal and Korea, among other places. Shaara's historical fiction novels are set during our nation's wars, starting with the American Revolution and continuing with the Civil War, World War I and II.