Veterans Day is right around the corner, so I thought I would honor all those who have served our country by posting my Top 15 favorite books about soldiers. In no particular order:
(1) Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. Okay, I lied about no particular order. This biography of Pat Tillman is one of my all-time favs for several reasons. One, it's Jon Krakauer, so it's well-written and completely engaging. Two, it tells not only Tillman's story, but the history of Afghanistan and the region which I think is important for everyone to understand. Is there bias in Krakauer's narrative? Sure, but the story is still one that should be read. And three, it's about a true American hero...someone I admire and hope my children will grow up to be like.
(2) The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt. Another complete favorite of mine! I spent the year this book came out recommending it to EVERYONE, adults and teens alike. Although they have never gotten along well, seventeen-year-old Levi follows his older brother Boaz, an ex-Marine, on a walking trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. in hopes of learning why Boaz is completely withdrawn. A must-read!
(3) Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant. True, not about American soldiers, but I enjoyed this book about the Crusades. A special horse named Hosanna changes the lives of two English brothers and those around them as they fight with King Richard I against Saladin's armies during the Third Crusades. Fans of "War Horse" will want to read this series starter.
(4) Five 4th of July by Pat Hughes and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson are two terrific novels about two young men from completely different circumstances fighting during the Revolutionary War.
(5) Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen. A moving, fictionalized biography of eighteen-year-old John Kipling, son of writer Rudyard Kipling, who remembers his boyhood and the events leading up to World War I, as he lies dying on a battlefield in France.
(6) Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. When Thomas Peaceful's older brother is forced to join the British Army, Thomas decides to sign up as well, although he is only fourteen years old, to prove himself to his country, his family, his childhood love, Molly, and himself.
The next 5 are all stories set during WWII:
(7) A Boy at War by Harry Mazer
(8) Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac (pair this with the non-fiction title Navajo Code Talkers by Nathan Aaseng)
(9) Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley (this title for adults also has a young reader's edition).
(10) Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
(11) Jump into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall
(12) is shared by two similar stories, both equally intriguing. Cracker!: the best dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata is the story of a young soldier in Vietnam and how he bonds with his bomb-sniffing German shepherd. Letters from Wolfie by Patti Sherlock tells thirteen-year-old Mark's story after he donates his dog, Wolfie, to the Army's scout program in Vietnam, and then learns that the Army refuses to say when and if Wolfie will ever return.
(13) A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. This autobiography about a boy soldier plucked from his village in Sierra Leone at the age of 13 is not for the faint of heart. But it is a powerful memoir that is the unfortunate story of many around the world.
(14) Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins. Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other.
(15) Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am...another title by Harry Mazer (himself a Veteran). Ben leaves everything behind after graduation to enlist in the army. His convoy gets caught in an explosion, and Ben ends up in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is or remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres.
To all our Veterans out there...THANK YOU! If you have not served, please remember to thank a Veteran on Sunday, and every day.