Sunday, July 7, 2013
Feature and Follow - Favorite War Book
I was away at a baseball tournament (THE American game) so please pardon the delay in the post.
Nonfiction my favorite book about war has to be Battle: the Story of the Bulge by John Toland (World War II). I first read an abridged version (for young readers) when I was in 7th grade. I found the full version in 10th grade at the public library. It is one of the few books I have read more than twice. It is that rare book that captures both the strategic picture and the view from the ground of both the individual soldier and the low-level officers.
A few others, from different wars:
Lee's Lieutenants by Douglas Southall Freeman (American Civil War). This was the book that launched the "Lost Cause" theory of the Civil War. It was and still is an influential tome in the study of military strategy and tactics, being required reading for cadets across the world.
Climax at Buena Vista by David Lavender (Mexican-American War). This is a small book about an obscure period in US history. That does not detract from its exceptional quality. It documents the northern campaign in the war which won for Zachary Taylor the Presidency.
The Campaigns of Napoleon by David G. Chandler (Napoleonic Wars). The quintessential military history of Napoleon and his campaigns. Chandler was a lecturer at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The volume is comprehensive, insightful and balanced.
Chickenhawk by Robert Mason (Vietnam War). One of the earlier books written about the Vietnam War by a veteran, this book attained critical success. Mason, a helicopter pilot, is critical of the way the US ran the war and the preparation given to soldiers to prepare them. Like the others above it is well-written, insightful, and comprehensive.
A few fictional accounts that I have also really enjoyed:
The Berserker Wars by Fred Saberhagen (science fiction). Saberhagen wrote a series of novels and short stories all revolving around war between intelligent robots (the Berserkers) and organic life. Highly recommended.
The Hornblower series by C. S. Forester and the Bolitho series by Alexander Kent. Both are multi-volume sets tracing the career of a Royal Navy officer, primarily through the Napoleonic period. Forester was first and set the standard for naval fiction. Both series capture the period and the complex lives of the seamen, and the officers on a wooden warship. They are also superb at following the development and the psyche of the man in charge.
Finally, two classics: My Brother Sam is Dead by Christopher Collier (American Revolution) and The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (American Civil War). Both take the perspective of a single individual as they learn the horrors associated even with a "good" war.
What did I miss?