Swofford's new book is Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails.
One of his five best books about war, written by authors who served, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
The TunnelRead about another book on the list.
by William Gass (1995)
William Gass, who served in the Navy during World War II, is by training a philosopher of language—also a great teacher whose books of criticism have guided my reading for two decades. When his novel "The Tunnel" finally landed after nearly 30 years of labor, I dived right in. It's a disturbing and beautiful tale narrated by a historian, William Frederick Kohler, who has just finished his masterwork, "Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany"—it just needs an introduction. But when Kohler sits down in his basement to write the introduction, he instead finds himself penning a massive and intricate biographical novel—the one in our hands. Kohler tells us that he is also digging a tunnel out of the basement. "My tunnel shall have a body of simple soilage like the rest of us. Like the rest of us it will have a spirit which is certainly no thing, too, for its hollow bore is no more palpable than spirit is, than consciousness." "The Tunnel" is the 20th century made into personal history—a book of hate but also one of love, especially a love of language.