Cascoly Books: Men at War

Cascoly Books - Men at War

  • Band of Brothers - Stephen E. Ambrose's book stands with 'Company Commander' as the best depiction of small unit combat in WWII. The HBO mini-series is also excellent.
  • George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia 'I felt a tremendous shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shriveled up to nothing.'

  • The Sharp Edge Probably the best description a civilian will ever have of life on the front line.
  • What is Like to Go to War - Karl Marlantes
  • Restrepo -- one of best books i've read describing what it's like to face combat day to day.Junger tells the intimate stories of a platoon of marines posted to an isolated lookout and subject to almost daily attacks from Taliban fighters they can rarely see. There's also a companion documentary called Restrepo

  • Saburo Sakai - Samurai autobiography of the Japanese Zero ace

  • The Soul of Battle
    The foragers became the beau ideal of partisan troops. Their self-confidence and daring increased to a wonderful pitch, and no organized line of skirmishers could so quickly clear the head of column of the opposing cavalry of the enemy. Nothing short of an entrenched line of battle could stop them, and when they were far scattered on the flank, plying their vocation, if a body of hostile cavalry approached, a singular sight was to be seen. Here and there, from barn, from granary and smokehouse, and from the kitchen gardens of the plantations, isolated foragers would hasten by converging lines, driving before them the laden mule heaped high with vegetables, smoked bacon, fresh meat and poultry. As soon as two or three of these met, one would drive the animals, and the others, from fence corners or behind trees would begin a bold skirmish, their Springfield rifles giving them the advantage in range over the carbines of the horsemen. As they were pressed they would continue falling back and assembling, the regimental platoons falling in beside each other till their line of fire would become too hot for their opponents, and these would retire reporting that they had driven in the skirmishers upon the main column which was probably miles away. The work of foraging would then be resumed.
  • Face of Battle - describes the life of the man on the front lines and is both shocking and compelling. Covering the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme (they all took place within a short distance of each other), he describes the similarities and differences of war thru the ages.
  • Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II Charles B. MacDonald An excellent account of the infantry advance thru Germany in 1944-5
  • Day - A. L. Kennedy

    This novel takes the reader inside, or slightly outside, the mind of a former RAF tail gunner during WWII

    Publishers Weekly vol. 254 iss. 42 p. 34 (c) 10/22/2007 -- Kennedy’s contemplative, stylized sixth novel (after Paradise) follows former Royal Air Force tail gunner Alfred Day as he relives his experiences in a WWII German prison camp. It’s 1949, and the diminutive but sparky Alfred, now in his mid-20s, is unraveling without the peculiar sense of purpose and dread the war had instilled in him, and without the crew he’d befriended. He volunteers as an extra on the set of a war documentary, hoping to regain precious lost camaraderie, but instead teeters on the edge of total breakdown. Flashbacks abound, detailing Alfred’s turbulent childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father. The film set experience grows darker as Alfred begins reliving his time in the prison camp, and the roots of his growing anger and depression are exposed. Kennedy is known for her language and methodical sentence structure, and this dexterity sparkles in her narration, which includes Alfred’s interior thoughts (offset in italics) as well as ingenious forays into the second person (where he’s presumably talking to himself). It takes getting used to, but adds texture and intimacy to this timely story about the detrimental effects of war on a good man.
  • V-Mail: Letters of a World War II Combat Medic Never intended for publication, these letters were written almost daily from March 1944 to November 1945 by 32-year-old combat medic to his wife in Philadelphia. This enlisted man's day-by-day reactions to the war, to the natives, to France and Germany and to his intense homesickness for his wife and children are the expressions of an average citizen-soldier. He saw the heroism of the combat infantrymen first-hand during 170 days of front-line action. Endpapers show maps of the Battle of the Vosges Mountains and of the operations of the 100th Infantry Division in the European theater

  • Away All Boats - Kenneth Dodson the Pacific war seen by the officers of the amphibious landing craft.
  • Memoirs of an Infantry Officer - Siegfried Sassoon - A celebrated poet who discovered pacifism in the WWI trenches
  • The Bloody Crucible of Courage Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War
  • Gunner's Glory - Johnnie M. Clark "From World War II to Vietnam - Untold Stories of Marine Machine Gunners" No one can deny the bravery and courage of the marines who tell their stories in this book, but it fails because of a lack of editing and context on the part of the author. Individual stories are presented, but unless you have an in depth knowledge of the battle [and I've read dozens of books on these wars], it's difficult to place it in perspective, and impossible to relate to the overall battle or war. In addition, most chapters start in the middle of a battle, then jump back to the gunner's childhood and training before returning to the opening scene. This is often used in novels and movies, but here it's distracting and confusing. [A minor annoyance is the repeated evangelical proclamations from the participants - was this a requirement for being included in the book?] Rather than spending time with this book, I'd suggest looking at some of the fantastic other books that are listed here
  • Jarhead - Anthony Swofford

    A Gulf War marine's obscenity laden account of his experiences as a sniper. The language is gross and indelicate, but seems to capture the times.

    … the problem with believing your country's battle monuments and deaths are more important than those of other nations is that the enemy disappears, and it becomes as though the enemy never existed, that those names of dead men proudly carved on granite monuments cause a forgetting of the enemy, of the humans who died and fought in other countries, and the received understanding of war changes so that the heroes from one's own country are no longer believed to have fought against a national enemy but simply with other heroes, and the war scar is no longer a scar, but a trophy. The warrior becomes the hero, and the society celebrates the death and destruction of war, two things the warrior never celebrates. The warrior celebrates the fact of having survived, not of killing Japs or Krauts or gooks or Russkies or ragheads. That large and complex emotional mess called national victory holds no sway for the warrior. It is necessary to remind civilians of this fact, to make them hear the voice of the warrior.

  • Generation Kill Interesting as a view of a new 'generation', but hardly in the same category of Band of Brothers, or even Jarhead. It reads like a bad plot for an unchallenging video game Surprisingly, the video series made from the book is excellent!
  • How I Won the War

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