I am a fan of historical fiction and nonfiction books. I’ve recently read “All the Light We Cannot See” and was very disappointed by the fact that even though the book’s plot was during World War II, I didn’t feel that “war” book feeling I have when I read a story from this period. Because of this, I decided to make a list of war books that everyone should read if they like this subject. This is not a top so don’t look at it as one. I’ve arranged the titles in a chronologic order.
1. All Quiet on the Western Front
“All Quiet on the Western Front” is a novel written by the German World War I veteran, Erich Maria Remarque. In it, the author describes how the war damaged the soldiers and how they felt broken at their returning home from the front.
The story has as the main character Paul Baumer, who along with his classmates enrolls for military service after hearing one of his teacher giving them a patriotic speech. What I most like about this particular book is the way the author introduces us to the story:
This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it
“All Quiet on the Western Front” was published in 1929 and it was banned and burned along many others by the Nazis.
2. Homage to Catalonia
“Homage to Catalonia” is a novel written by George Orwell and published in 1938. This book presents the author’s war experiences while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell served in Catalonia and Aragon from December 1936 to June 1937 when the political party he fought for was declared illegitimate and Orwell was forced to flee the country or face imprisonment.
His war experience was one of the things that influenced his political views and writings as he personally declared:
Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936, has been written directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism, as I understand it.
3. Band of Brothers
“Band of Brothers” is a novel written by Stephen E. Ambrose which was published in 1992. The book tells the story of a parachute infantry company from World War II. Even though the novel presents some of the battle facts, it mostly focuses on the lives of the soldiers that were part of the Easy Company. Ambrose wrote his book this way because he met with former members of this team and after conducting interviews he was captivated by the bonds that were developed between them. He showed them drafts of his book, asked for their opinions and added their ideas to his story.
The novel was also adapted by HBO in 2001 into a miniseries which had Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as executive producers.
4. The Things They Carried
“The Things They Carried” is a collection of short stories written by the war veteran Tim O’Brien and published in 1990. All the book is written around a platoon of American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. He uses semi-biographical characters, real places and also adds himself as the protagonist. All this makes Tim O’Brien’s novel a war book worth reading.
5. The Sorrow of War
“The Sorrow of War” is a book published in 1990 by the Vietnamese writer Bảo Ninh. It served the author as his graduation project. The story consists of flashbacks of a North Vietnamese soldier, Kien, who has the mission to collect the bodies of fallen companions. In his journey, he describes the horror of war that made him lose his love and innocence.
Ninh’s novel rose great polemics at the time of the publication and took 10 more years to be published in Vietnam.
Can you add another title to my Badgery list?