Friday Reads: Memorial Day
On Monday, May 29th, we pay tribute to the Americans who have died in service to our country. To honor the occasion, we have curated the following titles, for adults and young readers, in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of our nation’s military:
HALF AMERICAN: THE EPIC STORY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS FIGHTING WORLD WAR II AT HOME AND ABROAD by Matthew Delmont
Winner of the 2023 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction
The definitive history of World War II from the African American perspective, written by civil rights expert and Dartmouth history professor Matthew Delmont.
FACING THE MOUNTAIN: AN INSPIRING STORY OF JAPANESE AMERICAN PATRIOTS IN WORLD WAR II by Daniel James Brown
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and courage that tells the story of the special Japanese American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe; their families, incarcerated back home; and a young man who refused to surrender his constitutional rights, even if it meant imprisonment. “Propulsive and gripping, in part because of Mr. Brown’s ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers…a page-turner.” – The Wall Street Journal
THE HARDEST PLACE: THE AMERICAN MILITARY ADRIFT IN AFGHANISTAN’S PECH VALLEY by Wesley Morgan
Colby Award winner
A deeply reported history of the American war in Afghanistan told through the infantry battalions and commando teams who fought in one of the country’s most violent regions: the Pech valley.
Through reporting trips, hundreds of interviews with Americans and Afghans, and documentary research, Morgan writes vividly of large-scale missions gone awry, years-long hunts for single individuals, and the soldiers, Marines, commandos, and intelligence operatives who cycle through, along with several who return again and again to the same slowly evolving fight. With these stories, he shows how the Pech Valley has been a microcosm of the entire war.
SPEARHEAD: AN AMERICAN TANK GUNNER, HIS ENEMY, AND A COLLISION OF LIVES IN WORLD WAR II by Adam Makos
From the author of the international bestseller A Higher Call comes the riveting World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich, where he will meet destiny in an iconic armor duel—and forge an enduring bond with his enemy. After Clarence Smoyer sees his friends cut down breaching the West Wall and holding the line in the Battle of the Bulge, he and his crew are given a weapon with the power to avenge their fallen brothers: the Pershing, a state-of-the-art “super tank,” one of twenty in the European theater.
THE VIETNAM WAR by Geoffrey Ward, Kenneth Burns
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Based on the celebrated PBS television series, the complete text of an engrossing history of America’s least-understood conflict, “a significant milestone [that] will no doubt do much to determine how the war is understood for years to come.” —The Washington Post
From the Gulf of Tonkin and the Tet Offensive to Hamburger Hill and the fall of Saigon, Ward and Burns trace the conflict that dogged three American presidents and their advisers. But most of the voices that echo from these pages belong to less exalted men and women—those who fought in the war as well as those who fought against it, both victims and victors—willing for the first time to share their memories of Vietnam as it really was. A magisterial tour de force, The Vietnam War is an engrossing history of America’s least-understood conflict.
ON DESPERATE GROUND: THE EPIC STORY OF CHOSIN RESERVOIR–THE GREATEST BATTLE OF THE KOREAN WAR by Hampton Sides
Hampton Sides’ superb account of this epic clash relies on years of archival research, unpublished letters, declassified documents, and interviews with scores of Marines and Koreans who survived the siege. While expertly detailing the follies of the American leaders, On Desperate Ground is an immediate, grunt’s-eye view of history, enthralling in its narrative pace and powerful in its portrayal of what ordinary men are capable of in the most extreme circumstances.
SCARS OF INDEPENDENCE: AMERICA’S VIOLENT BIRTH by Holger Hoock
The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war—one that shaped the nation, and the British Empire, in ways we have only begun to understand.
WHY WE SERVE, DELUXE EDITION: NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES by NMAI, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Jefferson Keel, Kevin Gover, Debra A. Haaland
Rare stories from more than 250 years of Native Americans’ service in the military
Why We Serve commemorates the 2020 opening of the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the first landmark in Washington, DC, to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of Native veterans. American Indians’ history of military service dates to colonial times, and today, they serve at one of the highest rates of any ethnic group. Why We Serve explores the range of reasons why, from love of their home to an expression of their warrior traditions.
Available June 6, 2023:
SOLDIERS DON’T GO MAD: A STORY OF BROTHERHOOD, POETRY, AND MENTAL ILLNESS DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR by Charles Glass
A brilliant and poignant history of the friendship between two great war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, alongside a narrative investigation of the origins of PTSD and the literary response to World War I. Drawing on rich source materials, as well as Glass’s own deep understanding of trauma and war, Soldiers Don’t Go Mad tells for the first time the story of the soldiers and doctors who struggled with the effects of industrial warfare on the human psyche…As he investigates the roots of what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder, Glass brings historical bearing to how we must consider war’s ravaging effects on mental health, and the ways in which creative work helps us come to terms with even the darkest of times.
FOR YOUNGER READERS
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS: HEROES OF IWO JIMA (Young Readers edition) by James Bradley, Ron Powers, Michael French
New York Times bestseller, now adapted for young readers, Flags of Our Fathers is the unforgettable chronicle of perhaps the most famous moment in American military history: the raising of the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima.
SPEARHEAD: AN AMERICAN TANK GUNNER, HIS ENEMY, AND A COLLISION OF LIVES IN WORLD WAR II (adapted for young adults)by Adam Makos
Adapted for young adults from the New York Times bestseller, a riveting and true WWII story of a young man–an American tank gunner–who meets his destiny in an iconic armor duel and forges an enduring bond with his enemy.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND: AMERICA’S WAR IN VIETNAM by Elizabeth Partridge
Winner of the National Book Award
In March 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson sent troops into Vietnam. 57,939 American soldiers would be killed and seventeen years would pass before this controversial chapter of American history concluded with the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. The history of this era is complex, but it’s the personal stories of eight people—six American soldiers, one American nurse, and one Vietnamese refugee—that form the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic medic rescues and evacuations, each individual’s story reveals a different facet of the war and moves us forward in time.
FACING THE MOUNTAIN: A TRUE STORY OF JAPANESE AMERICAN HEROES IN WORLD WAR II (adapted for young adults) by Daniel James Brown
Adapted for young readers from the New York Times bestseller by Daniel James Brown, Facing the Mountain is the remarkable true story of three brave Japanese American soldiers who fought for the United States during World War II while facing discrimination at home. Perfect for readers of The Boys in the Boat.
For more on these and related titles visit the collection, Memorial Day 2023
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