Friday, November 25, 2016

Rook Recommendations

Missing on Hill 700 by Carrie Pepper
Carrie Pepper is a fine writer, very evocative of emotions, and in this volume she lays bare her and her family's pain over the loss on her brother Tony Pepper on Hill 700 near Khe Sanh. I had tears in my eyes several times. He served in the 26th Marines, my regiment, though I was thankfully with regimental HQ, not with a rifle company as Tony was. In addition, I had the life-saving good fortune to rotate home in September of 1967, before Tet and the siege of Khe Sanh, while he was lost in April of 1968. It is especially moving to read about how Tony's Marine brothers and other vets rallied to her and made her one of their own, and to for her to find out that he was carried in many hearts. Marines will find this book of particular interest, but anyone interested in the tragedy of war will be moved by it. I highly recommend reading it; I hope she published more.

WAR by Sebastian Junger 
This best seller by a reporter embedded with Army infantry in a hotly contested valley in Afghanistan will be of interest to military history buffs and all who want a better understand of war as it is, not as heroic myth. Junger is an excellent writer. He is the author of "A Perfect Storm," so is no stranger to the reading public. This book goes beyond a description of close combat to explore the reactions of the soldiers to fighting, death and wounds. It delves into fear and courage in a very honest way; the author does not spare himself from painful introspection. they say Freedom is not Free. In this volume he gives a voice to that small minority who pay the price for almost everyone else.

With the Help of God and a Few Marines: the Battles of Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood  by Albertus W. Catlin
I read the Kindle edition which was only 99 cents. Catlin was the CO of the 6th Marine Regiment at Belleau Wood, where a bullet wound through his lung eventually took his life, but not before he wrote this interesting account. As a memoir written immediately after the events, it makes no pretense at balance. The Army and French are gallant allies, the Germans the evil Bosch or Huns. There were a lot of details that were new to me, though I have read extensively about these actions. It will be of especial interest to my brother Marines.

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
For decades I have read and been amused by the cynical definitions from Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary." Finally I decided to get a copy. Though much of it is outdated from the 1800s, there were more than enough gems to be worth purchasing it. Things like: "Peace, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting." "Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a conflict of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." And, "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, Bain is so highly regarded that it is exempted from the cares of (public) office." There are numerous small poems illustrating his definitions by poets I never heard of leading me to suspect they were written by Bierce himself, as doubtless were the many fanciful anecdotes. Well worth a writer's time.

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