By Leah Price, Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia) (TNS)
Monday is Memorial Day. Many will participate in the annual custom of decorating the graves of war dead with flowers, a tradition that began in 1868. Others will attend special commemoration events, or spend time with family remembering loved ones who were lost.
Another way to recognize their sacrifice might be to read about the wars and conflicts that took their lives. I asked several folks for book recommendations and was amazed at the diversity and depth of their selections.
Wilford Kale, Williamsburg, Virginia, author of a number of nonfiction books of local interest, was in the U.S. Army from July 1968 to June 1970. He served with the 1st Signal Brigade in Vietnam from May 1969 to June 1970 as a 1st Lieutenant and received a Bronze Star medal. He recommends the following reading:
Pulitzer Prize-winning author James M. McPherson wrote Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg in 2003, published by Crown. Still in print and also available through a variety of used-book sources, it is a compact look at the Battle of Gettysburg when thousands of Blue and Gray soldiers died in the three-day conflict. The Union casualties were 23,049 (3,155 dead, 14,528 wounded and 5,365 missing); the Confederate casualties totaled 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured and 5,425 missing). An illustrated edition of the book was published May sixth by Zenith Press and is packed with significant photographs and illustrations along with McPherson’s original text.
Beyond the Call by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield was published three months ago by Berkley Caliber of New York. It is a wonderful story of a World War II pilot’s secret spying and recovery mission behind the Eastern Front to rescue Allied prisoners of war from right under the noses of the Russians. Captain Robert Trimble’s son researched and co-authored the inspiring narrative.
Lastly, well-known award-winning historian and author Stanley Weintraub takes the reader to the Korean War and recounts the slaughter of and epic survival of members of the U. S. Marine Corps and the Army as they battled the Chinese Communists and North Koreans during the disastrous winter of 1950. The book, A Christmas Far from Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival During the Korean War, was published last fall and is available in hardcover and newly released paperback.
Shana Gray, Daily Press deputy night editor, grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., home to the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command, and is known in the newsroom as a World War II buff. She took a look through her extensive collection and suggested these titles:
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Ted Lawson. The book tells the inside story of the training and aftereffects of the famous raid over Japan, a mission in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, by one of the Doolittle Raiders himself. Written shortly after the raid, the book is the definitive account of the mission.
The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw. On D-Day, 19 servicemen from one small town in Virginia were killed in the first wave of troops going onto Omaha Beach in Normandy. Full of anecdotes with those who survived, family, friends, letters, and more, the book examines the men who died and the town of Bedford, which lost more men in one day than any other U.S. city.
Day of Infamy by Walter Lord. Filled with the history and facts of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the author keeps the narrative personal, from the point of view of people who were just going about their Sunday when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Including photos and maps, the book provides a comprehensive look at the attacks and the losses.
Daily Press reporter Hugh Lessig, who covered the Hampton Roads military beat for a number of years for the Daily Press, offered the following recommendations:
Look Away, from William C. Davis. A perceptive history of the Confederacy from the political side. It shows how the Confederacy did some things that a strong central government would do — such as nationalize the salt industry.
Wired For War by P.W. Singer. It examines the growth of drones in warfare and raises important ethical questions that still haven’t been answered.
Agent Garbo by Stephan Talty. A profile of a man from Spain who became one of the most famous double agents in World War II. From his post in England, he fed the Nazis all kinds of information about troop movements and ship strength — all of it wrong. He was instrumental in getting the Germans to believe that D-Day would not happen at Normandy.