For those readers who are American, Sept. 11th is a day that the Patriotic spirit comes out in this country, probably only second to July 4th. For those who are not American, the sadness and desolation left after war is an element that is universal, something that is relatable to any country that has suffered the effects of strife and war. So, in honor of Sept. 11th, I am posting my favorite patriotic books. Although war is definitely not my favorite subject to read about, I have come across a few over the years that have really touched my heart. I will give them a shout out here. Some are American, while some are German, Italian, etc. but one thing is the same amongst all of these books, war is horrible and sad and there is not much left after the war is over. No matter the side fighting, war is a physical and mental game that wears down even the brightest and most promising human beings. May we never forget, no matter where we are from, the lives lost for our prospective countries. War comes with a cost and these books show the humanity behind the numbers.
Lets start with 2 Ernest Hemmingway novels. He was a soldier during WWI himself so it is fitting that his works have some of the most striking instances of war in them. One thing that I appreciate in his novels is that although war is the backdrop, it is not the main focus. There is a love story in the foreground. I recommend: For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms.
Recommendaton #1: For Whom the Bell Tolls By Ernest Hemmingway- The story of an American solider in an International Brigade fighting in a guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War
Recommendation #2: Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway- The story of an American soldier and a British nurse who fall in love during the Italian campaign of WWI.
Recommendation #3: Catch 22 By Joseph Heller- WWII novel about soldiers occupying an island off the shores of Italy and their struggle to keep themselves sane enough to complete the war and return home.
Recommendation #4: The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien- I came across this novel 3 times during my education in literature. Twice I was assigned to read this book as part of American literature classes and once I was assigned to read this in a history class. It follows an entire platoon of soldiers during the Vietnam War and the things they carried with them in their packs to keep their mindset sane so they could finish the job and go home to their families. This is my highest recommended war time read.
Recommendation #5: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane tells the story of a young boy during the American Civil War and how every one is fearful of war but courage comes from rising above that fear.
Recommendation #6: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque is a meta-fiction WWI novel about the German forces and the desolation felt by their forces.
Though war is never, ever pleasant, reading about the struggles that have come before really reminds us in our daily lives of work, school, friends, and a family of the sacrifices that have occurred before today.
I wish you a day filled with peace today.
All the best,