There are few books that are written for a young audience that can hold an adult’s attention. Most books for young people tend to be trite, formulaic, and fail to challenge the reader in any sort of way. The works of Gary Paulsen are notable exceptions, none more so than his classic Hatchet. READ MORE
One of the novelties of the Invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was the “embedded reporter.” The media hyped this style of reporting as new and authoritative. Ironically the idea of the embed had been used in other wars. These war reporters were known as “war correspondents” and included such illustrious names as Stephen Crane, Walter Cronkite, and Erik Sevreid. Traditionally these reporters wrote of their experiences in long form after the war and the Invasion of Iraq is no exception. Generation Kill by Evan Wright falls in the tradition of war reporter’s long form accounts of their time in combat. What sets Wright’s book apart is his keen eye for what makes America’s fighting men everymen. Generation Kill does more than just recount battles and the toll they take on soldiers and civilians and the environment. It is full of rich, unforgettable characters who are not that much different from your average 20-something. It is an unflinching, often raw look at life as an enlisted Marine in combat and a brilliant illustration of the bond that these Marines share and the commonalities between the Marines and every other young man. READ MORE
The great Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke’s theory of war states that “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Time and again throughout history this adage has been tested and proven on the battlefield. Mark Bowden proves this adage once again in his first, and best known work, Black Hawk Down. However in 1993, the US military had gone nearly a full generation without this being true. Previous confrontations in Grenada, Panama, and the Persian Gulf had gone like clockwork. But all that changed in October of that year when an elite group of soldiers from the 75th Ranger Battalion and Operators from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force, came into contact with the ragtag militia of Mohammad Farrah Adid, a Somali warlord who was waging war on UN peacekeepers. The ensuing battle was the saw some of the heaviest urban combat that the US was involved in since Vietnam and was the bloodiest engagement fought since that conflict. In 24 hours, traditional army methods of fighting were wiped away and the ugly beast of modern urban warfare burst onto the stage. READ MORE.
Margaret MacMillan is one of the best known pop historians today. Her previous work, Paris, 1919, about the Treaty of Versailles, was well received by academics and readers alike. She follows up in the book’s success with a very accessible study of one of America’s greatest foreign policy achievements, the opening of China by Richard Nixon in February 1972. READ MORE
The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam’s Holiest Mosque by Yaroslav Trofimov chronicles the seizure of the Grand Mosque at Mecca in 1979 by Sunni militants. A little known event, even the west, Trofimov sheds light on one of the events that sparked the current conflict with militant Islam. He also highlights just how fragile the Saudi hold on power really is. READ MORE
The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam centers on the first year of the Korean War. In it, Halberstam seeks to shed light on the first “modern” war America fought and he largely succeeds. The Korean War, fought from 1950-1953, foreshadowed Vietnam in many ways but also forced the US to adopt a hands on foreign policy, one which many Americans viewed with suspicion after World War II. READ MORE