NYT: A Wave of Military Memoirs With You-Are-There Appeal
Now that American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is winding down, the warriors are telling their stories.
Bookstores have been flooded with first-person accounts that have emerged from the wars, especially by members of the Navy SEALs, that offer insider looks at combat and harrowing real-life drama.
Readers have been snapping up the books, eager to get a glimpse behind the fog of war and ready to embrace stories that accentuate heroism instead of the often dreary developments reported in daily news accounts. Seeing some of these books rise to the top of best-seller lists, publishers are rushing to sign up similar titles, to be released in the next year.
I've read some of the genre of course, but not all of them. For instance, I have not read "War" by Sebastian Junger. I *want* to, but just not sure I could read it and be okay with everything, so I bought it to toss my hard earned duckets to him as way of thanking him, but haven't read. I started American Sniper by Kyle that they discussed in this article, but got sidetracked. I really liked the first 4 chapters, but haven't read enough to adequately recommend it.
But, I made a quick list of my top 5:
House to House, by SSG David Bellavia. If you only read one, read this one. Now granted, I am seriously biased on this one, as I love David in a totally manly way. (And he listed me in the acknowledgments.) There is no one alive who makes me laugh as hard as I do when I am around Bells. And it comes through in this book. Like my sometime fellow blogger Demophilus, David is sort of an off guy for the infantry, he's a huge fan of the theater, and was even like a Theater major in college. But his book is absolutely hilarious, rivetting etc. I've seen background information on the event that led to his being nominated for the Medal of Honor, and when you meet David you sort of do a double take. How could this little dude kill 6 insurgents in a building, including the last one with a Gerber? Just read it.
Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton. A bit of a cheat on this one as Stanton wasn't a soldier, but wanted to include it, because this is a great read for any that want adventure and equine borne Special Forces guys just wreaking havoc on the enemy.
The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by Matthew Currier Burden. Another one I am biased on because Matt is one of my best friends, a fellow Guinness drinker, and the guy I would likely use my one phone call on if I was in jail. (He wouldn't answer, as he would likely be in an Irish Pub.) But this book is less written by Matt than compiled by him. Blog of War is Iraq and Afghanistan from the point of view of service-members, spouses back home etc. Rather than just getting one persons view of the war, you get a more holistic view.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell. I don't know if there is anyone left who hasn't read this one, and for good reason. I've been with Marcus at various events, and you kind of have to be in awe after reading the book. My female lawschool classmates all wanted to marry him on the spot. The book is surreal, so if you haven't read it, pick it up. Otherwise you can wait for the movie, but Marcus is pretty much one of a kind, if in a different way from Bellavia.
My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell. Picking the last one was hard, and I wanted to go with another book by a close personal friend (Northern Disclosure by Toby Nunn, my token Canadian buddy) but I went with this one, which is ironically written by one of Toby Nunn's troops. This one might not be for everyone, because it is sort of different than the others. There's no niceties here, this is just an enlisted man's book. Colby is sort of a Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson of the battlefield. Again, might not be everyone's cup of tea, and you probably don't want your mom reading it, but it will certainly round out the others on this list in terms of getting the view from the gunner at the bottom.