Rebecca asks: With yesterday being Anzac Day, I thought I’d ask a theme question this week. Are you a reader of war books? And if so, do you have any favourites?
I decided to respond to this meme in large part because I just finished Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes and it allows me to cover these questions quite easily.
Reading the book indicates I do read about war. As for Matterhorn, many claim it to be one of the best novels of the Vietnam War to date. It is an outstanding work but only one war book is on my list of Desert Island Books — Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. As a result, it ranks as my favorite book on any war.
My reading this year also reflects my interest in the topic. One of my favorite books so far this year is Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, a novel about an SS officer in World War II. Also arguably qualifying is another of this year’s favorite books, Brodeck by Philippe Claudel, a fictional tale arguably set in World War II that explores the effects of a war on a small village. Interestingly, both are translated from French. A third novel I’ve read this year dealing with war was Get Out of the Way by Daniel Dinges, about a young man who, counter-intuitively, enlists to try to avoid Vietnam.
My interest in the subject is sparked by the fact my dad was a World War II veteran, I grew up during the Vietnam War and I’m a history buff. Still, I think the number of war-related books so far this year is somewhat of an aberration as I usually average eight or less a year.
I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried