Saturday, May 9, 2009

Downer nonfiction

We have gotten some really good military history books in lately, and I'm always looking to connect our books up with someone who I think will enjoy them. We have one patron in particular who is very well-read on World War II history, and I have been suggesting our new titles to him, but to no avail. After my latest offer - A dawn like thunder : the true story of Torpedo Squadron Eight by Robert J. Mrazek - he finally confessed that he avoided 'downer' military history. I would have thought books about warfare are downers in general, but he said that some books are interesting without lingering on body counts, hopeless causes and strategic blunders that have murderous consequences (think 'Gallipoli'). His recommendation?
Ghost soldiers : the forgotten epic story of World War II's most dramatic mission by Hampton Sides. This book examines the Army's 6th Ranger Division, and their dramatic raid on the Cabanatuan prison camp in the Philippines.
If you don't mind your military history to be a little on the depressing side, however, we do have a new book for anyone with an interest in World War I. The Somme: the darkest hour on the Western Front is by Peter Hart, the director of the Imperial War Museum in London. As the oral historian for the museum, Hart collects the memories and stories of veterans and this book is peppered with eye-witness accounts. From Privates to Lieutenant Colonels, the voices in The Somme will give you a thorough feel for one of the worst battles in history. Definitely a downer, but fascinating nonetheless....

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