Monday, June 20, 2011

War Journals (Part II)

1.  Guadalcanal Diary, Richard Tregaskis (1943).   War correspondent Tregaskis was the original embedded journalist who wrote this classic WWII account of the Marines fighting in the South Pacific.  Written in a series of journal entries.  Black and white photos.  Bought used, no recollection where.

Guadalcanal Diary 

2.  Invasion Diary, Richard Tregaskis (1944).  Tregaskis's follow up to Guadalcanal Diary, Invasion Diary follows the American landings in Italy in 1943.  Black and white photos.  Judging by the map in the book, I may have bought at a used book store on Beaver Island, Michigan.  Once owned by gentleman who lived on Harvard Street, Norfolk, VA.  

Invasion Diary 

3.  The Forgotten Soldier: The Classic WWII Autobiography, Guy Sajer (1990). Told  from the perspective of a German soldiers on the Russian front.  Bought from the Department of State used book store.

The Forgotten Soldier: The Classic WWII Autobiography (Brassey's Commemorative Series WWII) 

4.  Soldat: Reflections of German Soldier 1936-1949, Siegfried Knappe & Ted Brusaw (1992).  Officer in the German Wehrmacht.  He served in several key battles on the Russian front, saw Hitler in his Bunker during the Battle of Berlin and was captured and taken prisoner by the Russians until his release.  Bought used somewhere.

Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 

5.  '44 In Combat From Normandy to the Ardennes, Charles Witing (1984).   War historian Whiting tells the stories of the American infantry using journals of ordinary soldiers.  Black and white photos.  Another used book that I can recall where bought. 

'44 in Combat from Normandy to the Ardennes 

6.  We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, Lt. Gen Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway (1992).    Once of the best eye-witness accounts of the Vietnam war.   Story of intense battle of Ia Drang.  Later turned into movie, We Were Soldiers.  Bought new.

We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam 

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...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Westward Ho!

Every bibliophile sooner or later gravitates toward some topic that defines who they are.  Roads west were one of my first interests.  In 1919, my maternal grandfather found three foolhardy friends and drove from Ohio to California in a 1915 FIAT.  This was still an adventure and in the days when there were still essentially wagon trails and very few paved roads.  I was captivated by the journal he left behind and retraced the trip 70 years later and tried to publish a book about the adventure.  The book never made it into print but the interest in roads west has always been strong.  I keep thinking I'll return to it and finish the job of publishing a book on my westward retracing.  

1.  The Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman, Illustrated by Thomas Hart Benton (1946).   A classic story of pioneers pulled westward.  The Oregon trail set the scene for others to come west.  Parkman himself lived among native American tribes for a summer following their rituals.  

2.  Boulevarded Old Trails in the Great Southwest, Frank H. Trego (1929).  An obscure book outlining what can best be described as an amble through Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.  Bought used can't remember where; stamped, "No longer property of of the Pottsville Public Library."  

3.  The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends and Lore, David Dary (2000).  Firsthand accounts from Native Americans, mountain men, traders, trappers and soldiers of the Santa Fe trail and its long history from 1610 to the 1860s.  A backbone of travel from Missouri to Santa Fe.  Bought new.

The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore

4.  The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West, David Haward Bain (2004).  Bain travels from Kansas City to San Francisco in search of vanishing railroads, wagon wheel ruts and vestiges of the pioneers looking to capture the spirit of America adventure and its pull west.  Bought used at BJ's Books, Warrenton, VA.

The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West

5.  Roads of Destiny: The Trails That Shaped a Nation, Doughlas Waitley (1970).  Waitley studied 22 waterways, trails and roads that played in the expansion of Colonial America to the Mississippi.  The trails took Americans further west and helped shape our early ideas of Manifest Destiny.  Bought used--where I don't know.

6.  American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Down of the Motor Age, Peter Davies (2002).   Today, driving across country can be an seamless three-day cruise on the Interstate.  The year after WWI, the US Army needed two month to show it could successfully conduct a motorized convoy coast to coast.   A young colonel, Dwight Eisenhower lead the effort which later left a strong impression on him as President when he advocated for the building of the interstate highway system.  The convoy made its crossing only a few months before my grandfather.   Bought new.

American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age