Five Reads for Memorial Day

(Gillette, Wyo.) Summer is upon us now that Memorial Day has passed (though the official start isn’t until the summer solstice on June 20th.) If you were looking for ways to learn more about America’s military history to boost your summer reading list, here’s five novels that span the Civil War through the Iraq War, all available at the Campbell County Public Library:

The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel has authored two books about his time embedded with the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad. The first is The Good Soldiers, chronicling his time spent in Iraq in 2007. The followup book, Thank You For Your Service, sees Finkel spending time with the men of 2-16 after their deployments have ended.

Valley of Death, by Ted Morgan

Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War details how the battle at Dien Bien Phu came to pass, and what it meant for France, Vietnam, and the United States in the following decades. The two month long battle in Indochina in 1954 is reported on by French-American biographer Ted Morgan, who served with the French Army during the Algerian War.

The Liberator, by Alex Kershaw

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Alex Kershaw conducted interviews with law student turned soldier Felix Sparks, who helped liberate Rome and worked his way through France and Germany to liberate Dachau camp during World War II. The novel spans 500 days in the life of this real American soldier during World War II’s bloodiest campaigns in Europe.

Dead Wake, by Erik Larsen

The author who recounted the exploits of H.H. Holmes in the best-selling  Devil in the White City penned his most recent novel, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, about the sinking of a cruise liner during World War I. The bombing of the passenger ship as it made its way from New York City to Liverpool killed 1200 civilians. It precipitated the United States’ entry in to World War I.

Seven Miles to Freedom, by Janet Halfmann

The tale of little-known American hero Robert Smalls, an escaped slave who stole one of the Confederacy’s most crucial gunships from South Carolina in 1862. Smalls was a captain in the Federal Navy and was key to convincing President Lincoln to allow former slaves to join the Union military. (Seven Miles to Freedom is a children’s book.)