Veterans’ Day Reading List

Today we honor those American veterans who have served our country, putting their lives on the line for our freedom.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, an act approved on May 13, 1938 declared November 11 in each year “Armistice Day,” a legal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace. It mainly celebrated veterans of World War I, but after World War II required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and air men in the nation’s history, the 83rd Congress amended the act by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

UNP offers many books that tell the stories of those who we celebrate today, and always.

Cartography by Katherine Schifani describes her time deployed in Iraq as a counterterrorism advisor with U.S. Special Forces in 2011. It is the story of one woman mapping the terra incognita of Iraq with questionable interpreters, nonexistent guidance, and an unclear purpose.

Connected Soldiers by John Spencer delivers lessons learned about effective methods for building bonds between soldiers in a way that overcomes the distractions of home and the outside world, without reducing the benefits gained from connections to family.

The Mysteries of Haditha by M.C. Armstrong is a coming-of-age story and an unprecedented glimpse into the heart of the war on terror. At once daring, dark, and hilarious, Armstrong’s journey as a journalist with the Navy SEALs pulls no punches and lifts the veil on the lies we tell each other and the ones we tell ourselves.

Quagmire edited by Donald Anderson presents a range of perspectives and personal responses to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Covering approximately fifteen years of the United States’ conflicts, the responses demonstrate the aftermath of war and the degreed ripples that extend beyond soldiers to families and friends, lovers, hometowns, even pets.

Fidelis by Teresa Fazio is a coming-of-age story set in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Fazio, as the youngest and smallest officer in her battalion, struggles with her past, her sense of authority, and her womanhood in an active war zone, where vulnerability is not only taboo but potentially lethal.

War Flower by Brooke King is ultimately a profound meditation on what it means to have been a woman in a war zone and an unsettling exposé on war and its lingering aftershocks. For Veterans such as King, the toughest lesson of service is that in the mind, some wars never end—even after you come home.

The Time Left between Us by Alicia DeFonzo bridges the gap between the generation who fought World War II and the generation who has forgotten it. Retracing her grandfather’s tour of Europe, DeFonzo’s journey reveals how deeply connected the past is to the present and how the truth—and what we remember of it—is fragmented.

After Combat by Marian Eide and Michael Gibler reconciles sensationalized media and reality by telling war’s unvarnished stories. Participating soldiers, sailors, marines, and air force personnel (retired, on leave, or at the beginning of their military careers) describe combat in the ways they believe it should be understood. 

Changing the Rules of Engagement: New Edition by Martha LaGuardia-Kotite brings to life the authentic, vivid stories of leadership from inspiring and adventurous women who achieved the extraordinary by serving their country in the U.S. military. 

My Hitch in Hell: New Edition by Lester I. Tenney is an inspiring survivor’s epic about the triumph of human will despite unimaginable suffering. Captured by the Japanese after the fall of Bataan, Lester I. Tenney was one of the very few to survive the legendary Death March and three and a half years in Japanese prison camps.

Red, White, and True edited by Tracy Crow offers readers a collection of voices that reflect the experiences of those touched by war—from the children of veterans who encounter them in their fathers’ recollections of past wars to the young men and women who fought in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wounded Warriors by Robert C. Vallieres with Jacquelyn M. Howard is Vallieres’s story of self-healing from crippling “invisible” wounds through the help of birds. The problems of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder do not have definitive solutions. His story of recovery offers a winged hope to thousands of military personnel who suffer these physical and mental battles.

Through Veterans’ Eyes by Larry Minear presents a composite narrative of the experiences of U.S. service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Minear’s approach invites veterans to express their views on duty and service, politics, cultural and ethical challenges, relationships to local populations, and reentry into American society.

Medicine Bags and Dog Tags by Al Carroll draws on a rich array of archival records and oral traditions to tell the story of Native men and women whose military service has defended ancient homelands, perpetuated longstanding warrior traditions, and promoted tribal survival and sovereignty.

World War I by Jennifer D. Keene explores the daily lives of those who served the United States in the Great War by reporting on the training camp experience; the journey overseas; and the unique difficulties African Americans, Native Americans, women, and immigrants encountered in the predominately white and native-born army.

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