Books and Reading

Books on War


Occasionally as I am reading a set of books I notice a theme that wasn’t intentional but is interesting nonetheless.

Recently that theme has been books that connect to the idea of war in some way.

I started with the memoir An American Family, which is the tale of a father whose son enters the military and spoiler alert-he dies when he is in active duty. This book helped to give me a new respect for people in the military and their families. The way the father tells the story is heartbreaking and really gives you a greater picture of how death affects all involved. On audio this book is especially moving because it is read by the author.

Then I moved onto The Song of Achilles. This is a modern retelling of The Iliad from the point of view of Patroclus. The perspective that this book gave me was to question why we value some lives over others and is it really just to assume that the lives we care about actually matter more.

Meanwhile I was reading the entirety of the Red Rising series which is a dystopian series that takes place in space. The first book in the series feels like The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game with a touch of Game of Thrones, so clearly all the games. The series deals with war and how it affects all involved. It considers how people change and what is the true cost of war. Like most dystopian novels I always wonder if what they are destroying is being replaced with anything better.

Next I started on a classics binge. I started with The Iliad because I felt The Song Of Achilles had given me context. The Iliad made me consider how we interpret honor and what is truly worth dying for. Many of the characters in The Iliad want an honorable death, meaning they die in combat. The other consideration it brought up for me was the idea of what is the point, why are we all killing people someone else loves and is it worth it. Taken in historical context their need for honor and glory make sense as a way to gain fame. By dying in battle they will be remembered for years to come as they certainly are in The Iliad.

From there I moved onto The Odyssey. The Odyssey discusses Odysseus’ journey home after the Trojan war. I found this an interesting juxtaposition to An American Family because this book seemed to address how war affects families and people who are not there. This book also reconsiders the idea of an honorable death and speaks more to the idea of life no matter how insignificant.

Then to round out the bunch, I started reading The Aeneid, which feels quite similar to The Odyssey but involves fighting more wars post the Trojan war as a way to follow fate and settle in a new area. In this book war is a necessary evil, but also it is shown to be desired by the young men and that the older men are more hesitant and wary.

Any incidental themes in your reading?



2 thoughts on “Books on War”

  1. An American Family sounds sad but important; adding it to my TBR!
    I read three war books in May: When Books Went to War (SO GOOD!), The War I Finally Won, and The Things They Carried. I typically read books on WWII so I learned a lot from The Things They Carried.

    Liked by 1 person

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