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“Remembering Our Veterans”: Reads for Veterans Day 2023


“Remembering Our Veterans”: Reads for Veterans Day 2023

veterans day

On November 11th, we celebrate the day in 1918 when World War I officially ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month with the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany. In the US, we also celebrate it as Veterans Day, in honor of the men and women who have served, who have answered the call of duty to their country, and displayed much heroism and valor in the process.

Here are some books available in the Livingston Library collection that will not only remind us of the experiences and sacrifices of our veterans, but also the brutal psychological toll of warfare.

against all odds

Against All Odds : A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II by Alex Kershaw

Kershaw tells the untold story of four of the most decorated soldiers of World War II-all Medal of Honor recipients-from the beaches of French Morocco to Hitler’s own mountaintop fortress.  Tapping into personal interviews and a wealth of primary source material, Kershaw has delivered a gripping account of American courage, spanning more than six hundred days of increasingly merciless combat, from the deserts of North Africa to the dark heart of Nazi Germany.

All the Ruined Men : Stories by Bill Glose

Dramatic, powerful, authentic short stories of soldiers fighting a “forever war,” in combat and back home. Combat takes a different toll on each soldier; so does coming home. Here are linked stories that show veterans struggling for normalcy as they grapple with flashbacks, injuries (both physical and psychological), damaged relationships, loss of faith, and loss of memory.

A Bridge in Babylon : Stories of a Military Chaplain in Iraq by Owen Chandler

Army chaplain Owen Chandler tells the stories of the men and women serving our country in combat zones around the world — a life few of us know, but thousands of Americans experience every day. As an “embedded presence of hope” Chandler candidly describes the struggle to hold onto faith and hope amid the brutalities of war and the isolation of being deployed.

Brothers in Valor : Battlefield Stories of the 89 African Americans Awarded the Medal of Honor by  Robert F. Jefferson Jr.

Since the American Civil War, scores of African Americans have served with great distinction. Through thousands of historical accounts, photographs, and documentary evidence, Jefferson introduces the 89 black soldiers who continued forward when all odds were against them. The heroes within these pages faced certain death and definite danger without flinching.  Jefferson paints a vivid portrait of African-American soldiers who carried the flag of freedom and how they reshaped the very definition of courage under fire during some of the most harrowing moments in United States military history.

Compassionate Soldier : Remarkable True Stories of Mercy, Heroism, and Honor From the Battlefield by Jerry Borrowman

 Arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War and global in perspective, this book features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk.

Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour : Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax by Joseph E. Persico

Persico sets the last day of the war in historic context with a gripping reprise of all that led up to it, from the 1914 assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, which ignited the war, to the raw racism black doughboys endured except when ordered to advance and die in the war’s last hour. The final hours pulsate with tension as every man in the trenches hopes to escape the melancholy distinction of being the last to die in World War I. The Allied generals knew the fighting would end precisely at 11:00 A.M, yet in the final hours they flung men against an already beaten Germany. The result? Eleven thousand casualties suffered–more than during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Why? Allied commanders wanted to punish the enemy to the very last moment and career officers saw a fast-fading chance for glory and promotion.

in the company of heroes

In the Company of Heroes : The Inspiring Stories of Medal of Honor Recipients From America’s Longest Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by James Kitfield

 features in-depth narrative profiles of the twenty-two post-9/11 Medal of Honor recipients who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. This book focuses on the stories of these extraordinary individuals, expressed in their own voices through one-on-one interviews, and in the case of posthumous awards through interviews with their brothers in arms and families.

Invisible Storm: a Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD by Jason Kander

From political wunderkind and former army intelligence officer Jason Kander comes a haunting, powerful memoir about politics, PTSD, impossible choices–and how sometimes walking away from the chance of a lifetime can be the greatest decision of all.

 A Patriot’s Promise : Protecting My Brothers, Fighting for My Life, and Keeping My Word by Jr. Israel Del Toro

An inspiring memoir of promises kept, overcoming obstacles, and what it means to sacrifice for others, written by a Special Warfare Operator with the Air Force. When Israel “DT” Del Toro, Jr.’s Humvee rolled over a roadside IED in Afghanistan, he had one thought as he lost consciousness: I have to keep the promise I made to my dad. DT was orphaned at the age of fourteen, and on the night before his father died, he repeated the promise his dad required: “Take care of your brothers and sisters.” . When DT was injured in action, he lay in a coma for three months with third-degree burns on 80% of his body. He nearly died three times, and doctors predicted – if he survived – he would forever breathe with a respirator and never walk again. DT pushed through every limit to his full recovery, and he became the first 100% disabled veteran to re-enlist in the Air Force. DT’s promise to his dad extends now to his fellow wounded warriors throughout the world, as he advocates for awareness and affecting change in public policy for wounded, injured, and ill soldiers. 

Rebuilding Sergeant Peck : How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan by John M. Peck

Marine Sgt. John Peck survived an IED during the war on terror that left him with a traumatic brain injury, amnesia, and cost him his marriage. He survived another three years later, one that left him with three and a half limbs missing. He’s one of only two living people to survive the flesh-eating fungus he contracted in recovery at Walter Reed, one that left him as a quadruple amputee. And that’s only the beginning of his story. What followed was a recovery nothing short of miraculous. With resilience and the help of advocates like actor and philanthropist Gary Sinise, FOX’s Jennifer Griffin, and Bill O’Reilly, John would use a specialized “Action Trackchair” wheelchair and a newly-built SmartHome to get a third lease on life. In 2016, Peck underwent a groundbreaking bilateral arm transplant, receiving two new arms.

Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery by Tom Cotton

An extraordinary journey behind the scenes of Arlington National Cemetery, Senator Tom Cotton’s Sacred Duty offers an intimate and inspiring portrait of “The Old Guard,” the revered U.S. Army unit whose mission is to honor our country’s fallen heroes on the most hallowed ground in America.

Soldiers Don’t Go Mad : A Story of Brotherhood, Poetry, and Mental Illness During the First World War by Charles Glass

A brilliant and poignant history of the friendship between two great war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, alongside a narrative investigation of the origins of PTSD and the literary response to World War I.  

sons of freedom

Sons of Freedom : The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I by Geoffrey Wawro

The heroic American contribution to World War I is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, and yet is largely overlooked by history.  Historian Wawro presents the dramatic narrative of the courageous American troops who took up arms in a conflict 4,000 miles across the Atlantic, and in doing so ensured the Allies’ victory. Drawing on extensive research in US, British, French, German, and Austrian archives, Wawro contends that the Allies simply would not have won the war without the help of the Americans. The Doughboys reversed the German advantage in troop numbers after Russia’s exit from the war and, despite early missteps, prepared a series of excellent offensives. The French, by 1918, had lost their edge and needed American aggressiveness, and willingness to take casualties, to move the lines forward.

These Heroic, Happy Dead by Luke Mogelson

In the ten stories of Mogelson’s masterful debut collection, we see lives that have been forever changed by war. The stories are linked by characters that appear and then reappear later on; we meet veterans who are struggling upon their return and, later on, see them in the deployments that first sent them to the battlefield. We fleetingly read about a soldier in one story, who becomes the central protagonist of another and move back and forth in time from active combat at the front to reintroduction into society at home. Mogelson’s stories are bleak and starkly honest, yet are told with an undercurrent of dark humor, which make for an unflinching debut collection.

Three Wise Men : A Navy Seal, a Green Beret, and How Their Marine Brother Became a War’s Sole Survivor by Beau Wise and Tom Sileo

An incredible memoir of family, service and sacrifice by a Marine who lost both his brothers in combat–becoming the only “Sole Survivor” during the war in Afghanistan.

Unbroken Bonds of Battle: A Modern Warriors Book of Heroism, Patriotism, and Friendship by Johnny Joey Jones

In over a decade of working with veterans, Jones has discovered the power of battle-forged friendships. Suffering a life-changing injury while deployed in Afghanistan, he faced a daunting recovery. But coming home would have been much harder without the support of his brothers and sisters in arms. Joey tells the stories of those very warriors who have supported and inspired him on the battlefield and off. Through unfiltered and authentic conversations with American heroes in every branch of service, Joey tackles the big questions about life, loss, and, of course, hunting.

The Unknowns : The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home by Patrick K. O’Donnell

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is sacred ground at Arlington National Cemetery. Originally constructed in 1921 to hold one of the thousands of unidentified American soldiers lost in World War I, it now also contains unknowns from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and receives millions of visitors each year who pay silent tribute.  When the first Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in Arlington, General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, selected eight of America’s most decorated, battle-hardened veterans to serve as Body Bearers. For the first time O’Donnell portrays their heroics on the battlefield one hundred years ago, thereby animating the Tomb by giving voice to all who have served. The Body Bearers appropriately spanned America’s service branches and specialties. Their ranks include a cowboy who relived the charge of the light brigade, an American Indian who heroically breached mountains of German barbed wire, a salty New Englander who dueled a U-boat for hours in a fierce gunfight, a tough New Yorker who sacrificed his body to save his ship, and an indomitable gunner who, though blinded by gas, nonetheless overcame five machine-gun nests. Their stories slip easily into the larger narrative of America’s involvement in the conflict, transporting readers into the midst of dramatic battles during 1917-1918 that ultimately decided the Great War.

Valor : The Astonishing World War II Saga of One Man’s Defiance and Indomitable Spirit by Dan Hampton

Valor is the magnificent story of a genuine American hero who survived the fall of the Philippines and brutal captivity under the Japanese. Lieutenant William Frederick “Bill” Harris was 25 years old when captured by Japanese forces during the Battle of Corregidor in May 1942. This son of a decorated Marine general escaped from hell on earth by swimming eight hours through a shark-infested bay; but his harrowing ordeal had just begun. Shipwrecked on the southern coast of the Philippines, he was sheltered by a Filipino aristocrat, engaged in guerilla fighting, and eventually set off through hostile waters to China. After 29 days of misadventures and violent storms, Harris and his crew limped into a friendly fishing village in the southern Philippines. Evading and fighting for months, he embarked on another agonizing voyage to Australia, but was betrayed by treacherous islanders and handed over to the Japanese. Held for two years in the notorious Ofuna prisoner-of-war camp outside Yokohama, Harris was continuously starved, tortured, and beaten, but he never surrendered. Teaching himself Japanese, he eavesdropped on the guards and created secret codes to communicate with fellow prisoners. After liberation on August 30, 1945, Bill represented American Marine POWs during the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay before joining his father and flying to a home he had not seen in four years.

walk in my combat boots

Walk In My Combat Boots : True Stories From America’s Bravest Warriors by James Patterson & Matt Eversmann

Shares firsthand wartime accounts describing the courageous battlefield sacrifices of men and women from every branch and operational specialty of the U.S. military, from the Vietnam War through the present.

War And American Life : Reflections On Those Who Serve And Sacrifice by James Wright

This is a book of essays and reflections of a veteran and a historian who has been an advocate and a teacher/scholar. It considers American veterans and how our society needs to understand who they are and what they have done-and the responsibilities that follow this recognition.

The York Patrol : The Real Story of Alvin York and the Unsung Heroes Who Made Him World War I’s Most Famous Soldier by James Carl Nelson

Documents the stories of a legendary World War I soldier and his fellow Medal of Honor-decorated patrol members, heralding their courageous capture of dozens of German adversaries in the Argonne Forest.

-Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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