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15 War Books for Inspiration

1. Doughboy War: the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, James A. Hallas ed. : This book is a set of excerpts from numerous and moving first-hand accounts. There are some descriptions of combat and its aftermath that leave one wondering how much a human can take and still function. The prevailing mood of the stories is somewhat dark/pitiful but something like this should be done for every war that America participated in as a memorial to that generation's unique brand of sacrifice.

Even though the United States did not enter the war until April 1917 and didn't engage in battle until the fall of that year, war's end saw over 80,000 killed in action. The poignancy of having friends buried in shallow graves on the battle fields, or seeing them mangled or "blown to atoms" by shellfire is recounted. As if the horrors of the warfare were not enough, the influenza epidemic killed thousands in 1918. The doughboy's war is vividly portrayed by these carefully edited anecdotes and should serve as a reminder of all those men who went to France "to make the world safe for democracy."

2. The First World War by John Keegan: This book illuminates the war to end all wars and captures the sweep of the first global conflict. Keegan details the primary causes and the primary instigators of the conflict. You really come to understand how about 15 individuals and a lot of national pride led to the deaths of millions. While not a truly "modern" war, many of the instruments of death were well hoaned (e.g. the rifle, the machine gun and artillery). This book describes the horror of trench warfare, details the attacks and defenses, the general's attempts to break the stalemate, the mathematics of attrition, the political motivations, and most importantly, the effect on nations that established the groundwork for the second world war.

3. Articles of War: A Collection of Poetry about World War II, Leon Stokesbury ed.: Soldiers, local civilians, and victims write about their struggles and fears, as all hope for the future seems lost. War-time experiences shake the poets to the very core of their beings, and the brutal realities of war and battles--both at home and far afield--change the writers forever. "Articles of War" features works by writers who saw the war and those who heard the stories from loved ones. With writers like Auden, Cummings, Jarrell, Hugo, and Shapiro, this book features 120 poems.

4. Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose: Band of Brothers tells us everything about a group of men and how they fought. We get to laugh with them, we get to see the horrors that they have seen. We also get to see the incompetence that sometimes becomes prevalent in wartime. Ambrose doesn't pull any punches, and neither do the men of Easy to whom he spoke. They are very outspoken about the people they didn't like. Not just people, but also nationalities. One thing to keep in mind when reading this book is that the only impression of nationalities that these men had were when they were going through territory, wondering whether or not they would be running into enemy fire at any time.

5. Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose: If you are a student of military history at all, or for that matter just interested in World WarII, this book is an outstanding addition to your library. Ambrose is a master of oral history presentation and has a demonstrably keen grasp of the larger issues of WWII and, more importantly, of the ultimately quite human aspects of modern warfare.To read the stories of men, from all walks of life, all parts of the country was riveting. These men, bring back a time when they were young and brave and scared. Their innermost fears revealed. Anyone who cherishes freedom and liberty should read this book, for the men who fought so long ago, will not be with us much longer to share their stories

6. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailler

7. Poets of World War II, Harvey Shapiro ed.

8. The World War II Memorial, Douglas Brinkley ed.

9. The Coldest War by James Brady

10. No Bugles, No Drums by Rudy Tomedi

11. A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam by James R. Ebert

12. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

13. We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by Harold G. Moore

14. Road to Baghdad by Martin Stanton

15. Jarhead by Anthony Swofford

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