With Memorial Day just past, here are two books — one fiction, one non — related to the military and all things armed forces.
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
Reknown science writer and researcher extraordinaire Mary Roach delves into military and combat science with her latest book, set to publish on June 7. Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War explores the science of keeping human beings “intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war.” As usual, Mary uncovers the most incredible facts and tidbits of information, and expands your understanding of combat from kevlar helmets to the psychological and physical welfare of soldiers in combat. As with all of Mary Roach’s books, her writing voice is a huge draw. She can make even the most tedious of topics fascinating!
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
I finally got around to reading this incredible novel published in 2012 by Ben Fountain, and I am sorry it took me so long to do so. I was prompted to read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk after learning recently that Ang Lee will bring this award winning novel to the big screen in November. I must tell you, if I had a dollar for every time someone walked into the bookshop, picked up this book, and proclaimed it hands down one of the best novels they had ever read…I might own my own bookshop. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk certainly has won hearts and minds, and tremendous critical acclaim. (National Book Award Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award)
The subject matter may not appeal to everyone. A U.S. Army unit, Bravo company, is shipped back “stateside” following the broadcast of a dramatic film capturing the company’s critical battle at the fictitious Al Ansakar Canal. Bravo’s victory/propaganda tour is punctuated by cringe worthy interactions with Americans who have little appreciation for the on going “war” in Iraq beyond “nina leven”, “currJ” and the “soooh-preeeme sacrifice” of the young soldiers of Bravo Company. With Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain holds up an enormous mirror in front of our country and the reflection is very, very unflattering.
If you missed this book when if published in 2012, pick up a copy and read it this summer before the movie hits theaters in the fall. Ang Lee will do a spectacular job with his film version, of course, but Ben Fountain’s writing is so good you must read the novel before seeing the movie!
Staff of Wellington Square Book Shop