Welcome to the Words After War Weekly Round-Up: “Reading Lists” Edition. In this space we share links relevant to our mission of improving the military-civilian dialogue through high-quality literary programming.
In college, I often chose a course based on the professor’s reading lists. Even today, whenever I attend a literary event or talk, I’m most curious about the reading lists or influences of the writers and thinkers on stage. But reading lists are tricky things, in the same way mix tapes can be tricky. Reading lists aren’t always made better by sheer volume or by being as comprehensive as possible. More than that, though, both reading lists and mix tapes tend to have greater impact when there’s a theme or some organization to them. And like the best mix tapes I have ever received, reading lists are a labor of love, and usually say much more about the curator than they ever say about music or books. That’s why we created the recommended reading section on the website. Also, Matt Gallagher has provided the writing workshop’s reading list. So, if you want to know what the writing workshop is reading, but you aren’t able to attend, here’s your chance.
Words After War Reading List
Eclipse of the Sunnis, by Deborah Amos
“Men in Black,” by Colby Buzzell
A Rumor of War, by Phil Caputo
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain
Black Hearts, by Jim Frederick
“Spoken from the Hedgerows,” by Jorie Graham
“A Raisin in the Sun,” by Lorraine Hansberry
“Hiroshima,” by John Hersey
“OIF,” by Phil Klay
“Helmet for my Pillow,” by Bob Leckie
“Memories of West Street and Lepke,” by Robert Lowell
Armies of the Night, by Norman Mailer
“The Scariest Little Corner of the World,” by Luke Mogelson
“Noon Wine,” by Katherine Anne Porter
“Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” by Katherine Anne Porter
“A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” by J.D. Salinger
“For Esmé – with Love and Squalor,” by J.D. Salinger
V-Letter and Other Poems, by Karl Shapiro
With the Old Breed, by E.B. Sledge
“A Trip to Hanoi,” by Susan Sontag
Meditations in Green, by Stephen Wright
Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Red Cavalry, by Isaac Babel
I Saw Ramallah, by Mourid Barghouti
The Watch, by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
Eleven Days, by Lea Carpenter
“You Know When the Men Are Gone,” by Siobhan Fallon
“Inside the Break,” by Siobhan Fallon
“Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell
Burmese Days, by George Orwell
Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
“The New Veterans,” by Karen Russell
Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih
“Home,” by George Saunders
The Village of Ben Suc, by Jonathan Schell
The Gangster We Are Looking For, by Le Thi Diem Thuy
And now for the round-up. Here we go.
- Phil Klay’s Redeployment was released to overwhelmingly rave reviews, including an amazing review by Dexter Filkins on the cover of this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. If you are not able to attend one of Phil’s many readings, you can listen to him discuss his work on the New York Times Book Review podcast, and you can also read Matt Gallagher’s interview with Phil in the Paris Review.
- Our friend, Megan McCloskey, recently published an exceptional piece of journalism in ProPublica that left me sad and angry. She profiles the agency responsible for finding the missing remains of American service members, and having once nearly taken orders to the agency and been close to those involved with the program, I am frustrated that I never had the opportunity to make it better.
- On the At War blog from the New York Times, David Eisler examines the military-civilian divide on university campuses with the return of the Naval Reserve Ofﬁcers’ Training Corps to Columbia University after an absence of more than 40 years. And on Foreign Policy, Adrian Bonenberger takes on the future of warfare that these new cadets and midshipmen like those at Columbia can expect to face in the coming decades.
- Brian Van Reet gives an excellent review for The Daily Beast of Hassan Blasim’s The Corpse Exhibition, which is one of the first books to explore the Iraq War from an Iraqi’s perspective. Also from The Daily Beast, Lea Carpenter interviews Susan Minot on Africa, Joseph Kony, and child soldiers.
- General Stanley McChrystal’s memoir, My Share of the Task, was recently released in paperback, and he was interviewed on WNYC‘s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” where he gave a surprising assessment on Afghanistan and Iraq. You can also read about what he’s been up to since his retirement, as Newsweek profiled his new consulting firm, The McChrystal Group.
- The Daily Beast reprinted Elliot Ackerman’s moving eulogy for his friend, Marine Master Sergeant Aaron Torian, who was killed in action in February in Afghanistan. Elliot’s eulogy is a stark reminder that we are a nation still at war.
- Amtrak’s writing residency, or #AmtrakResidency, application is now officially live. After you apply, let’s us know if you would like to go as a Words After War writer. And if you need a few more books to add to a reading list while riding the rails, here are a couple of the books General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended during in interview with PBS Newshour.
Have a great week.