I’m currently reading Jessica Taylor-Bearman’s A Girl Behind Dark Glasses, about her experience as a teenager with severe ME/CFS. I’m interested in her story not just because, as someone with a chronic illness, I’m interested in the stories of other people with chronic illnesses, but because, like most people in her situation, she has to try […]Read more "Tripping Out: Writing About Altered Perceptions"
Brave Deeds David Abrams “We double-time across Baghdad on our twelve feet, a mutant dozen-legged beetle dashing from rock to rock, confident in its shell but always careful of the soft belly underneath.” One of the bravest of the brave deeds in “Brave Deeds” may be the daring decision to narrate the book in the […]Read more "“Brave Deeds” by David Abrams"
Going Scapegoat David A. Buchanan David Buchanan opens “Going Scapegoat” with a story about getting warned when setting off from a very secure American base on a very safe trip to downtown Riyadh “not to get scalped by no Injuns.” This story sets in motion his examination of scapegoating mechanisms in post-9/11 literary and cultural […]Read more "“Going Scapegoat: Post-9/11 Literature, Language and Culture” by David A. Buchanan"
The New Literary War Hero in the Age of the Global War on Terror (Image from the film “Captive,” dir. Aleksey Uchitel) While this blog was originally focused mainly on my side hustle job of writing and reviewing fantasy, readers may have noticed a certain focus on matters military in recent posts, as in my […]Read more "My Chat with Andy Owen About War, Literature, and PTSD, Part I"
American Sniper Chris Kyle “We were slaughtering them,” brags Chris Kyle, America’s most prolific sniper, in his bestselling memoir that spawned the hit movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The “them” here refers to Iraqi insurgents, of whom Kyle killed close to 200, something he attributes largely to luck and being in the right place at […]Read more "“American Sniper” by Chris Kyle"
In this collection of tales, in turns lyrical and brutal, Oleg Ermakov, probably Russia’s foremost writer on the Soviet war in Afghanistan, depicts the war from multiple points of view: a boy on a date a couple of days before he heads off to basic training, a raw recruit forced to commit an act he […]Read more "“Afghan Tales” by Oleg Yermakov"
In this eye-witness account of the events in Iraq from 2003 to 2008, Richard Engel, NBC correspondent for the Middle East, repeatedly asks the question that others should have been asking a lot earlier and a lot louder: namely, what the heck was the US doing there? This is a personal account of Engel’s experiences […]Read more "“War Journal” by Richard Engel"
Kari’s just your typical teenage girl, dreaming of boys and being like Rita Hayworth…except that her country is currently occupied by Nazi Germany. When an American pilot crash-lands near her father’s farm, she sets off on a desperate adventure to smuggle him to Sweden. I always have my eye open for some good Nordic reading, […]Read more "“Land of Hidden Fires” by Kirk Kjeldsen"
Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present A compelling survey of irregular warfare from the pre-Christian era to the present, “Invisible Armies” covers both guerrilla fighting, which Boot calls “the oldest form of warfare,” and terrorism, which he considers “strikingly modern.” While exhaustively researched, this is not a […]Read more "“Invisible Armies” by Max Boot"
War and Peace (Vintage Classics) I feel like an idiot even thinking about writing a review of “War and Peace,’ but since I just re-read it, by God I’m getting a review out of it, and adding it to my official book count. So what to say about this stunning, confounding, confusing, maddening, amazing work […]Read more "“War and Peace,” Pevear and Volokhonsky Translation"