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Books on War

Musing Mondays2

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?

Although I rarely migrate over to the other fence of fiction, I do find myself browsing through the history section when I experience the craving for historical facts relevant to travel and literary interests. I do not particularly seek out books on warfare or belligerence, because I have trouble stay concentrated on the gory details, let alone keeping tracks of names and locations. War jargons also give me headaches. Believe it or not: I cannot tell the subtle difference between a shrapnel, a grenade, an incendiary, a stun, etc. Literature that adopts a war setting is my limit for books on war. The plenitude of literature that delves with war’s cruelty, loss of humanity, broken families, shattered dreams is enough to to fill the quota for that department. One of my all-time favorite novels is based on World War II, in which soldiers appropriate and trade identities: Shadow Without a Name by Ignacio Padilla. Unfortunately, the book didn’t get much of attention anywhere. Other memorable titles include A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (my favorite Dickens–how can you ever forget Madame Defarge?), Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.

22 Responses

  1. I honestly don’t go searching out this genre either. Every once in a while I will stumble upon a good book that happens to have a mix of war within the pages.

  2. I have read a lot of books on Holocaust..


    • I encounter lots of books on war in high school. Some of the staples of high school reading have war as the background. Anne Frank,…books on Holocaust. But I don’t search out for them, just come what may. 🙂

  3. Well, of course, there is the very great War and Peace; but on the whole, I’m not very fond of the fictional genre. T. and I occasionally read actual historical accounts to one another. He’s very fond of Admiral Horatio Nelson. That’s about it for me. Though I, too, have a fondness for Dickens. Madame DeFarge is sovereign. Right up there with Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov.

    • I’m about the plunge into that world of Madame DeFarge. All that knitting while paying attention in her shop. So uncanny and cunning!

  4. goodness Ive read loads.

    For non fiction my husband can recommend Starlingrad and Berlin (both by the same author)

    Fiction wise I can recommend Birdsong and The Book Thief.

    Im currently reading Regeneration by Pat Barker which is set in a mental hospital used to treat patients from the trenches during WWI which is offering a different perpective.

    Also for a different perpective I can recommend In Memory of the Forest by Charles Powers, this is set in Poland in the early 90s and deals with how a small village has to come to terms with its past and what happened in WWII.

    • Book Thief is high up on my list because everybody sing praises of it. I do have to check out Birdsong. Your non-fiction suggestions also sound very good.

  5. ok, I did like Guernsey..and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and a few other with a war setting…but I do not really consider myself a “fan” of war books or war settings.

  6. Since I read the Pat Barker trilogy earlier this year, I’ve been braver about taking on this subject in fiction. Marghanita Laski’s To Bed with High Music is an interesting novel which approaches the new opportunities available to women left behind on the home front in the ’40s. Sadie Jones’ Small Wars considers one family’s experience as part of the English military presence on Cyprus beginning in 1946. And I’ve been reading Vere Hodgson’s wartime diary Few Eggs and No Oranges through April, planning to finish for Persephone Week in May.

  7. I am addicted to World War II British homefronty sorts of books, but apart from that I do not like war books. I don’t care for books that take place during war, and I will almost never (unless forced) read a book that’s set actually in a war, with battles and everything. I’m squeamish and easily upset. 😛

    • I have trouble concentrating on battles and injuries. After April Morning by Howard Fast, I don’t want to read books that set in a war.

  8. Have you read,” All Quiet on the Western Front”? It is a great commentary on the futility of war. It is set in WWI and tells the story of a young man who starts out very excited to join the cause and quickly becomes disillusioned when he starts fighting.

  9. I don’t particularly seek out war stories but I do tend to like storie set during the WWI & II periods. Suite Francaise was wonderful and others that come to mind are Corelli’s Mandolin, Islands of Silence and A Very Long Engagement.

    • Corelli’s Mandolin is a favorite of yours and Danielle’s. I am going to check that out. 🙂 I just have so many books that I want to read.

  10. I don’t seek out war books, but when I find one, I enjoy reading.

    War puts people’s lives on hold.

    I joined the Vietnam Reading Challenge, because I am not familiar
    with it. I was a kid when it happened, and there were so many
    protests and distortions, that I was just too young to understand it all.

  11. I’ve read a number of books where the action takes place at a time of war, but I usually try to avoid books that deal directly with warfare. There have been a few exceptions: ” War and peace” ” And quietly flows the Don”. The latter had made me resolve not to attempt another war book again, a resolve I broke last month to read “All quiet on the Western Front”. It was a wonderful book, but again I think it’ll be a while before I seek out another ‘war’ book.

  12. I recently read “The Man from Saigon” by Marti Leimbach. The setting is 1967 Saigon and the areas surrounding the city. The main protagonists are Susan, a reporter from America who has recently arrived in Vietnam to write human interest stories for a magazine, Mark, her married lover, who has been a network reporter in Vietnam for too long, and Son, a Vietnamese photographer who has latched on to Susan. All three characters are well drawn and the descriptions of different people and settings as the story unfolds are outstanding. When Susan and Son spend a period of time in the jungle as captives of the Viet Cong, I could almost hear the sounds, smell the smells and sense the claustrophobic nature of the jungle. The plot is good too! The story focuses on the characters–their thoughts, feelings and interactions–and contains very little military jargon or battle scenes. I loved this book and was sad when I finished it.

    I like your blog! I just finished reading Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham and wanted to check out what you had to say about it (not many seem to read Maugham anymore). I’ll have to check back in a while since I saw the title listed under lined up.

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