Sunday, June 12, 2011

War Journals (Part I)

I am endlessly intrigued by the soldiers who survived the horrors of war.  Admiration for those who can tell their stories of what they saw to the rest of us.  Most are regular guys plucked from small towns and sent into circumstances beyond their imaginations.  So many go in as idealists and come out changed.  One of my larger bookshelf collections.  I have had the rare luxury to live in an age where I not to have to be drafted to fight.   Here it is in two parts:

1.  And No Birds Sang, Farley Mowat (1980).    Mowat is best known for his writings about the Canadian arctic, was a soldier in the Canadian Army who was an eye witness to the horrific, bloody battles in Italy.  Bought used and don't know where.

And No Birds Sang (The Farley Mowat Series) 

2.  Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves (1929).   WWI to me is perhaps one of the most senseless tragedies.  Graves wrote what may be the quintessential English memoir of WWI entering as a patriotic captain and left disillusioned after watching the slaughter of millions from his generation in the trenches of France.  Gives some perspective to the tragedies of today.   Bought used.

Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography 

3.  With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, E.B. Sledge (1981).  This has been named as one of the top five books on twentieth century war.  Sledge, who joined the 1st Marine Division gives an eye-witness account of fighting the hostile environment of the Pacific Islands.  Experienced the heat of the Pacific Islands Traveled with my father to the Bikini Atoll in 1996 and experienced the strongest sun and heat of my life.  How men fought in this climate weighed down by packs and carrying heavy weapons is beyond my imagination.  Sledge's book was the basis for the TV series, The Pacific.  Was privileged to know the niece of Mr. E.B. Sledge.   Bought new.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa 

4.  Doing Battle, Paul Fussell (1996).    Fussell is a witty curmudgeon.  He was a second lieutenant in the US Army in France during WWII.  Eventually wounded, he was taken prisoner and treated by the German Wehrmacht.  Eventually he was repatriated and put into training for the planned invasion of Japan.  Fussell went on to earn a PhD in English and teach.  Also wrote an essay, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb".

Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic 

5.  Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War, William Manchester (1979).    Manchester became one of my favorite writers after I read the first of his Churchill biographic trilogy, The Last Lion. A book still on my reading pile.  Bought used at the State Department Book store.

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War 

6.  Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger (1920).    Describes the horrors of WWI trench warfare from the German side.   Junger provides unvarnished descriptions of seeing his comrades torn apart in the endless shelling.  Considered one of the great books of that war for its candid presentation.  Bought new.

Storm of Steel Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint. edition 

7.  A Rumor of War, Philip Caputo (1977).   One of two books I have on Vietnam.  In 1965, Caputo commanded the first ground combat unit as a Marine lieutenant.  He returned to the U.S. changed, became a journalist and went on to write his book.  Bought used and lost track of where.

A Rumor of War

Part II to follow next...

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