Weekly Round-Up: Summer Reading List

AMERICA AFTER 9-11 flyer

Welcome to the Words After War Weekly Round-Up: “Summer Reading List” Edition. In this space we share links relevant to our mission of improving the military-civilian dialogue through high-quality literary programming.

The first week of summer is in the books, and it’s time to share my summer reading list. Before I get too far along, here’s my opportunity to remind you about today’s event, which is detailed in the flyer above.

For me, once summer has finally arrived, I like to mark my long summer days by the books I complete. Whether I’m headed to the beach or the mountains, I keep a few good books stashed in a bag or stacked on the nightstand. Here are a few selections from my own summer reading list that will be keeping me busy until autumn.

  1. Fourth of July Creek: A Novel, Smith Henderson
  2. Wynne’s War, Aaron Gwyn
  3. Fives and Twenty-Fives, Michael Pitre
  4. No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes, Anand Gopal
  5. Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order, Charles Hill
  6. The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, Kai Bird
  7. Preparation for the Next Life, Atticus Lish
  8. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, Evan Osnos
  9. Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years, Ron Capps
  10. Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, Steve Coll
  11. To Live or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan, Nicholas Schmidle
  12. The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014, Carlotta Gall
  13. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, Mark Mazzetti
  14. My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir, Brian Turner

Here we go.

  1. Iraq has been in the news quite a bit over the last few weeks. As we have all heard, and depending on who was talking at the time, there’s much blame to be laid at the feet of both administrations, the Iraqi government, and the increasingly unstable security situation throughout the entire Middle East region. I’ll leave talk of victory and/or defeat to the historians, and instead posit that Brian Caster, Phil Klay and Elliot Ackerman have had some rather thoughtful things to say about it all in outlets such as NewsweekNew York Times, and The New Yorker. Beyond smart vet commentary, no one gets it more right than Dexter Filkins, who has had some really good short pieces for The New Yorker over the last couple of weeks, along with a longer piece he wrote a few months back about Iraq.
  2. My heart nearly stopped when I saw that Marilynne Robison’s upcoming novel, Lila, is excerpted on the FSG blog. If you are anything of a super-fan like me, you will read the excerpt multiple times hoping that somehow the brief passage would magically turn itself into the book.
  3. If you were wondering what Gordon Lish is up to these days, you should read this interesting Newsweek profile of the once iconic literary editor to several great short story writers.
  4. For-profit colleges have been ripping off veterans – and the US government – for years. Despite this, and despite the fact that VSOs and elected officials have turned a blind eye, The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Daily Beast have teamed up to take a comprehensive look at how these school are preying on student veterans and straddling vets with worthless college degrees and large amounts of debt. Also, if you are a vet who used your GI Bill, The Center for Investigative Reporting wants to hear from you.
  5. There are times when a writer gets it right; there are times when a writer gets it wrong. And unfortunately for Dave Eggers, he gets it totally wrong in his new book. Read Phil Klay’s super-smart New York Times Sunday Book Review of what “has gone terribly wrong” in Eggers’s new novel.
  6. War on the Rocks posted their summer reading list. After you have read through that, you should then check out Peter Munson’s commentary on Iraq.
  7. This article in The Guardian on ghost writing for powerful politicians and non-disclosure agreements makes the 2010 Roman Polanski film, The Ghostwriter, all the more unsettling.

Have a great week.

–Brandon

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