Take time to honor veterans this Memorial Day with this collection of books reflecting on the lives of soldiers throughout history.
by Kevin Powers
"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss.
In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.
In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.
With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.
A brutal warrior but a gentle father and husband, Chris Kyle led the life of an American hero. His renowned courage and skill in military service earned him two nicknames -- The Devil among insurgents and The Legend among his Navy SEAL brethren -- but his impact extended beyond that after he came home from combat and began working with fellow veterans.
Journalist Michael J. Mooney reveals Kyle's life story, from his Texas childhood up through his death in February 2013. Mooney interviews those closest to the late SEAL and also sheds light on the life of the suffering veteran who killed Kyle. The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle is a candid, essential portrait of a celebrated warrior -- a man about whom a movie has only added to the legend.
by Saul David
On June 27, 1976, an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris was hijacked by a group of Arab and German terrorists who demanded the release of 53 terrorists. The plane was forced to divert to Entebbe, in Uganda -- ruled by the murderous despot Idi Amin, who had no interest in intervening.
Days later, Israeli commandos disguised as Ugandan soldiers assaulted the airport terminal, killed all the terrorists, and rescued all the hostages but three who were killed in the crossfire. The assault force suffered just one fatality: its commander, Yoni Netanyahu (brother of Israel's Prime Minister.) Three of the country's greatest leaders -- Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin -- planned and pulled off one of the most astonishing military operations in history.
With James D. Hornfischer
In Service, we follow Marcus Luttrell to Iraq, where he returns to the battlefield as a member of SEAL Team 5 to help take on the most dangerous city in the world: Ramadi, the capital of war-torn Al Anbar Province. There, in six months of high-intensity urban combat, he would be part of what has been called the greatest victory in the history of U.S. Special Operations forces. We also return to Afghanistan and Operation Redwing, where Luttrell offers powerful new details about his miraculous rescue. Throughout, he reflects on what it really means to take on a higher calling, about the men he's seen lose their lives for their country, and the legacy of those who came and bled before.
A thrilling war story, Service is also a profoundly moving tribute to the warrior brotherhood, to the belief that nobody goes it alone, and no one will be left behind.
by James Wright
At the heart of the story of America's wars are our "citizen soldiers" -- those hometown heroes who fought and sacrificed from Bunker Hill at Charlestown to Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, and beyond, without expectation of recognition or recompense. Americans like to think that the service of its citizen volunteers is, and always has been, of momentous importance in our politics and society. But though this has made for good storytelling, the reality of America's relationship to its veterans is far more complex. In Those Who Have Borne the Battle, historian and marine veteran James Wright tells the story of the long, often troubled relationship between America and those who have defended her -- from the Revolutionary War to today -- shedding new light both on our history and on the issues our country and its armed forces face today. From the beginning, American gratitude to its warriors was not a given. Prior to World War II, the prevailing view was that, as citizen soldiers, the service of its young men was the price of citizenship in a free society. Even Revolutionary War veterans were affectionately, but only temporarily, embraced, as the new nation and its citizens had much else to do. In time, the celebration of the nation's heroes became an important part of our culture, building to the response to World War II, where warriors were celebrated and new government programs provided support for veterans. The greater transformation came in the wars after World War II, as the way we mobilize for war, fight our wars, and honor those who serve has changed in drastic and troubling ways. Unclear and changing military objectives have made our actions harder for civilians to stand behind, a situation compounded by the fact that the armed forces have become less representative of American society as a whole. Few citizens join in the sacrifice that war demands. The support systems seem less and less capable of handling the increasing number of wounded warriors returning from our numerous and bewildering conflicts abroad. A masterful work of history, Those Who Have Borne the Battle expertly relates the burdens carried by veterans dating back to the Revolution, as well as those fighting today's wars. And it challenges Americans to do better for those who serve and sacrifice today.
by Wayne Karlin
On March 19, 1969, First Lieutenant Homer R. Steedly, Jr., shot and killed a North Vietnamese soldier, Dam, when they met on a jungle trail. Steedly took a diary -- filled with beautiful line drawings -- from the body of the dead soldier, which he subsequently sent to his mother for safekeeping. Thirty-five years later, Steedly rediscovers the forgotten dairy and begins to confront his suppressed memories of the war that defined his life, deciding to return to Viet Nam and meet the family of the man he killed to seek their forgiveness.
Fellow veteran and award-winning author Wayne Karlin accompanied Steedly on his remarkable journey. In Wandering Souls he recounts Homer's movement towards a recovery that could only come about through a confrontation with the ghosts of his past -- and the need of Dam's family to bring their child's "wandering soul" to his own peace.
Wandering Souls limns the terrible price of war on soldiers and their loved ones, and reveals that we heal not by forgetting war's hard lessons, but by remembering its costs.
A heartwarming dog story like no other: Tuesday, a lovable golden retriever, changes a former soldier's life forever.
A highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, Luis Montalván never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, his physical wounds and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. He wondered if he would ever recover.
Then Luis met Tuesday, a sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived among prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, and he found it difficult to trust in or connect with a human being--until Luis.
Until Tuesday is the story of how two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and dog, and how, together, they healed each other's souls.
Catherine Whitney's brother, Vietnam veteran Jim Schuler, died at just fifty-three years old, while living in a flophouse. It had been sixteen years since, in one of his drunken rages, he had last seen his family. He was one of countless veterans who never recovered from the trauma of war and the stress of returning to live in a country that didn't care about his pain.
The story of what happened to Whitney's brother resonates with humanity and has a clear relevance to current national concerns. Soldiers Once puts a very human face on veterans -- policies, finding in Whitney's personal drama a broader significance. It is both an investigation into her brother's loss and a meditation on the lost dreams of our military brotherhood.
by Tom Sileo
by Tom Manion
Recounts the personal story of how two Naval academy roommates--US Marine Travis Manion and US Navy SEAL Brendan Looney--defined a generation's sacrifice after 9/11, and how their loved ones carry on in their memory
Four weeks after Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden, the President of the United States stood in Arlington National Cemetery. In his Memorial Day address, he extolled the courage and sacrifice of the two young men buried side by side in the graves before him: Travis Manion, a fallen US Marine, and Brendan Looney, a fallen US Navy SEAL. Although they were killed three years apart, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, these two best friends and former roommates were now buried together--"brothers forever."
Award-winning journalist Tom Sileo and Travis's father, former Marine colonel Tom Manion, come together to tell thisd intimate story, from Travis's incredible heroism on the streets of Fallujah to Brendan's anguished Navy SEAL training in the wake of his friend's death and his own heroism in the mountains of Afghanistan. Brothers Forever is a remarkable story of friendship, family, and war.
Military hero and beloved Dancing with the Stars alum Noah Galloway shares his life story, and how losing his arm and leg in combat forced him to relearn how to live--and live to the fullest.
Noah's gripping story is a shining example that with laughter, and the right amount of perspective, you can tackle anything. Whether it be overcoming injury, conquering the Dancing with the Stars ballroom, or taking the next steps forward in life with his young family - Noah demonstrates how to live life to the fullest, with no excuses.
by Kris Paronto
Discover the USA Today bestselling self-help memoir from a former Army Ranger, a hero of the 2012 Benghazi siege, and the subject of the book and movie 13 Hours, as he shares life-changing lessons of discipline, motivation, success, and peace.
Thousands of people have heard Kris "Tanto" Paronto speak about his experiences in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. But before he was a security contractor, Tanto was a US Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. In The Ranger Way, Tanto shares stories from his training experiences that played a role in his team's heroic response in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Being a Ranger is, by design, not for everyone, but anyone can use the expectations and techniques of Ranger culture to achieve personal victory. Tanto shows you how to define your mission, set goals that are in alignment with your values, and develop a battle plan that will maximize your chances of success. You will learn why you should never quit and why that is different from never failing. Tanto uses his experiences in Basic and Ranger Training to explore how to deal with mistakes and disappointment like a leader, accept responsibility, and turn every obstacle into an opportunity for growth. You will learn why service and sacrifice will help you succeed-and how the power of humility, strength, faith, and brotherhood will sustain you on the road to accomplishing your mission.
What to Read Next