Monday, November 18, 2013

Five notable war books

Jake Tapper is the anchor and chief Washington correspondent for CNN and the author of The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.

One of five war books he recommended to readers of The Daily Beast who have already read the best-known war books:
Civil War Stories
by Ambrose Bierce

You’ve probably heard of one of the stories, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”—or at least you may have seen the 1964 Twilight Zone airing of the French film version of the story, La rivière du hibou. Nearly every story in the collection is as good; sad and dark and biting accounts of that savage war by a writer who was there for some of the bloodiest battles and was wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The recollections are gruesome and impactful in their matter-of-factness (combined with Bierce’s trademark twists).

In “What I Saw In Shiloh,” for instance, Bierce writes of a wounded sergeant “who had been a fine giant in his time. He lay face upward, taking in his breath in convulsive, rattling snorts, and blowing it out in sputters of froth which crawled creamily down his cheeks, piling itself alongside his neck and ears. A bullet had clipped a groove in his skull, above the temple; from this the brain protruded in bosses, dropping off in flakes and strings. I had not previously known one could get on, even in this unsatisfactory fashion, with so little brain. One of my men whom I knew for a womanish fellow, asked if he should put his bayonet through him. Inexpressibly shocked by the cold-blooded proposal, I told him I thought not; it was unusual, and too many were looking.”
Read about another book on his list.

--Marshal Zeringue