November 11, 2020
Thank you to all the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces! We greatly appreciate your dedication and courage in service to this country. In honor of Veteran's Day (November 11), take some time to explore the stories of these amazing individuals.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains-of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming. Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
Drawing Fire: A Pawnee, Artist, and Thunderbird in World War II by Brummett Echohawk
In 1940, at the age of seventeen, Pawnee Indian artist Brummett Echohawk (1922-2006) enlisted in the 45th Infantry Division--the "Thunderbirds"--part of the Oklahoma Army National Guard in his home town of Pawnee, Oklahoma. General George Patton told the 45th that they were "one of the best if not the best division in the history of American arms." Drawing Fire, Echohawk's memoir of his military service, tells the epic true story of a young Pawnee artist serving in a unit composed largely of Native Americans during some of the most significant battles of the Second World War, including Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio. Woven into the tapestry of Drawing Fire are Pawnee legends, language, and American Indian humor, all which offer a rare glimpse of the Native American experience in Europe during World War II. The book is supplemented by more than 40 combat sketches Echohawk made during the war. The foreword is by WWII veteran, Medal of Honor recipient, and Muscogee (Creek) Indian Lt. Col. Ernest Childers.
The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II by Katherine Sharp Landdeck
The thrilling true story of the daring female aviators who helped the United States win World War II-only to be forgotten by the country they served When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville's debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her student were in the middle of their lesson when the bombs began to fall, and they barely made it back to ground that morning. Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army's rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings. The brainchild of trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gave women like Fort a chance to serve their country-and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled as men. While not authorized to serve in combat, the WASP helped train male pilots for service abroad, and ferried bombers and pursuits across the country. Thirty-eight WASP would not survive the war. But even taking into account these tragic losses, Love and Cochran's social experiment seemed to be a resounding success-until, with the tides of war turning, Congress clipped the women's wings. The program was disbanded, the women sent home. But the bonds they'd forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were-and for their place in history.
Honorable Exit: How a Few Brave Americans Risked All to Save Our Vietnamese Allies at the End of the War by Thurston Clarke
In 1973, the Vietnam War ended in a cease-fire and a U.S. withdrawal that included promises by President Nixon to assist the South in the event of invasion by the North. But in early 1975, when North Vietnamese forces began to attack, Congress refused to send arms or aid. By April 5, the South was on the brink of defeat, spelling execution or years in a concentration camp for the untold number of South Vietnamese who had supported the government in Saigon or worked with Americans. Clarke launches into a narrative that is both a thrilling race against time and an important corrective to the historical record. For what is less known is that during those final days, scores of Americans--diplomats, soldiers, missionaries, contractors and spies--risked their lives to help their former translators, drivers, colleagues, neighbors and friends escape. By the time the last U.S. helicopter left Vietnam on April 30, 1975, these Righteous Americans had spirited 130,000 South Vietnamese to U.S. bases in Guam and the Philippines. The evacuees were resettled in the U.S. and became American citizens, the leading edge of one of America's most successful immigrant groups. Into this tale of heroism on the ground, Clarke weaves the political machinations of Henry Kissinger advising President Ford in the White House while nursing the delusions of the U.S. Ambassador in Saigon, who refused to depart. Groundbreaking, pageturning, and authoritative, Honorable Exit is a deeply moving history of Americans at a little known finest hour.
The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II by Alex Kershaw
Beginning in the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, The First Wave follows the remarkable men who carried out D-Day's most perilous missions. The charismatic, unforgettable cast includes the first American paratrooper to touch down on Normandy soil; the British glider pilot who braved antiaircraft fire to crash-land mere yards from the vital Pegasus Bridge; the Canadian brothers who led their troops onto Juno Beach under withering fire; as well as a French commando, returning to his native land, who fought to destroy German strongholds on Sword Beach and beyond. Readers will experience the sheer grit of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc and the astonishing courage of the British airborne soldiers who captured the Merville Gun Battery in the face of devastating enemy counterattacks. The first to fight when the stakes were highest and the odds longest, these men would determine the fate of the invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe--and the very history of the twentieth century. The result is an epic of close combat and extraordinary heroism. It is the capstone Alex Kershaw's remarkable career, built on his close friendships with D-Day survivors and his intimate understanding of the Normandy battlefield. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, here is a fresh take on World War II's longest day.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
A satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq that explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. Follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, football mecca of the Dallas Cowboys, their fans, promoters, and cheerleaders.