A curated booklist by your favorite SPL librarians!
|The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried is a selection of short stories that form a larger narrative arc. Set between scenes in America and scenes in Vietnam during the war, these stories reflect the emotional weight of being a soldier in this time, and the burdens they bear as recounted by O'Brien, a Vietnam vet himself.
|Missionaries by Phil Klay
Penned in wonderful and often heartbreaking prose by a Marine Corps veteran, two Americans and two Columbians share their experiences with the complexity of the never-ending conflicts of the Columbian war and the U.S's increasingly dubious role in "stopping" the drug cartel scene.
|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.
|The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
When he served as a machine gunner in Iraq, Powers put his life on the line with death all around, including that of his war buddy. They had protected each other from both outside enemies and the internal struggles that come from being in constant danger. When he returned from the Iraq war, he got an MFA in poetry which is evident here in lyrical language describing the fear of combat, futility of war, and how to rediscover civilian life afterwards.
|The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
This internationally acclaimed war novel tells the story of the shame a young private of the Union Army feels after fleeing the battlefield amidst the American Civil War.
|Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
A recipient of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, Fallen Angels is a YA coming-of-age story about Richie Perry, a teen from Harlem who volunteers for service in Vietnam. Perry is sent to war with other boys his age, and while trying to survive warfare, finds himself questioning his place in the US occupation.
|Fields of Fire by James Webb
This novel tells the stories of three soldiers from entirely different backgrounds who come together in Vietnam. In the An Hoa Basin, they are unprepared for what war really means, and how they will be reborn in it.
|Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
Published twenty years after Fallen Angels, Walter Dean Myers adapts a similar analysis and critique for the contemporary setting of the Iraq War. Robin "Birdy" Perry, a recruit to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the men he serve with find themselves doubting over their role in the war and the horrors they see.
|Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux
In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.
|Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel
Finkel, a journalist, follows the soldiers who serve in the Iraq War as they struggle to reintegrate into American society.
|Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir by Tammy Duckworth
The story of Senator Tammy Duckworth, from her childhood growing up in poverty, through her decision to serve in the Army, and her near loss of life in the Iraq War. After recovering from the RPG attack to which Duckworth lost her legs, she decided her next service would be as an elected official.
|Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
Tribal society has gripped the interest of Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. Jumping off of this premise, Junger explores the experiences of combat veterans who come home and find themselves missing the intimate bonds of platoon life.
|Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War by Paul Fussell
Based on letters and diaries of soldiers and civilians (primarily American and British) during the Second World War, noted author Paul Fussell movingly describes the war as it was experienced by the people who lived through it, with its unique psychological pressures and frustrations.
|What They Fought for, 1861-1865 by James M. McPherson
Based on the letters and diaries of over 1,000 Union and Confederate soldiers, acclaimed historian James McPherson explores the motivations, thoughts and day-to-day lives of the men who fought in the Civil War.
|A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell
Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall--an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war.
|The Korean War by Max Hastings
Hasting's analysis of the Korean War and the US struggle against another superpower is enhanced by personal interviews from over 200 veterans and a complex understanding of the political climate and strategic decisions of the time.