10 enticing page-turners for the bookworm in your life

Elizabeth Howe
December 14, 2018 - 10:49 am

Still haven't found the perfect gift for the voracious reader on your gift list? Here are ten books by and about veterans that the Connecting Vets staff highly recommends.

"Waiting for Eden" by Elliot Ackerman

National Book Award finalist author Elliot Ackerman's latest book is about Eden Malcolm, catastrophically wounded overseas, laying in bed unable to move or speak, imprisoned in his own mind. But on Christmas, the one day his wife Mary is not at his bedside, Eden's consciousness comes flickering alive. A piercingly insightful, deeply felt meditation on loyalty and betrayal, love and fear, Waiting for Eden is a tour de force of profound humanity. Read more here.

"Echo in Ramadi" by Scott Huesing
Connecting Vets Staff Pick

Scott Huesing, Connecting Vets contributor, is a retired USMC Infantry Major with over 24 years of service. His book, Echo in Ramadi, provides a portrayal of combat in Iraq at the height of the war that was so real we felt like we were there. Connecting Vets had the chance to talk to Huesing about some of the most gripping scenes in the book, the harrowing stories of Echo Company in Iraq, and his lessons for a better life.

Listen to the full interview here: VetStory: Echo in Ramadi, Author Scott Huesing

"The Fighters" by C.J. Chivers
Connecting Vets Staff Pick

“A classic of war reporting...The author’s stories give heart-rending meaning to the lives and deaths of these men and women, even if policymakers generally have not.” —The New York Times

Pulitzer Prize winner C.J. Chiver's most recent book was written: "for those who recognize these stories as their own." 2.7 million Americans have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since late 2001. Seven thousand of these Americans died, and tens of thousands were wounded. Chivers' novel follows six. 

Chivers’ The Fighters has given a voice to the human component of our country’s time in Afghanistan and Iraq — the troops — in a way that none before have accomplished. That voice is poignantly honest, meticulously detailed in its narrative and well worth the read.

Read more here: Chivers' 'The Fighters:' "for those who recognize these stories as their own"

"Boys in the Cave" by Matt Gutman

This past summer, the entire world watched with bated breath as an army of ten thousand soldiers, civilian rescuers, and volunteers worked feverishly to rescue a Thai boy's soccer team trapped in a cave. Months later, Matt Gutman's novel Boys in the Cave: Deep Inside the Impossible Rescue in Thailand provides an in-depth look at the countless pieces that went into saving those boys — including a United States Air Force Special Tactics team without which Gutman believes the mission would not have succeeded.

Read more here: USAF Special Tactics pivotal role rescuing 'Boys in the Cave'

"Cherry" by Nico Walker 
Connecting Vets Staff Pick

“A miracle of literary serendipity. . . . [Walker’s] language, relentlessly profane but never angry, simmers at the level of morose disappointment, something like Holden Caulfield Goes to War.” —The Washington Post

“Nico Walker’s Cherry might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic.” —Vulture

Nico Walker's debut novel was raw, gritty, wonderful, and written from jail on a typewriter. Walker served as an Army medic on more than 250 missions in Iraq. He's currently serving the last two years of an eleven-year sentence for bank robbery. Cherry gives readers a heartbreakingly honest look into the life of Walker's unnamed narrator as he navigates life before, during, and after the military — to varying degrees of success.

"Hero at Home" by Sarah Verardo

A children’s book by a military caregiver gives readers a glimpse into the life of a child of a wounded soldier.

Sarah Verardo is the wife and caregiver of Michael Verardo, who suffered catastrophic injuries in April of 2010 while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. They currently live near Charlotte, North Carolina with their three daughters. Sarah published a children’s book titled Hero At Home, which was inspired by a conversation she had with her oldest daughter, Grace — one of Grace's classmates called her father "weird and gross" because he didn't have a leg.

“It’s just so important to realize that when someone comes home, it doesn’t mean their battle is over,” Verardo said about the importance of their work. “It actually is just the beginning of a new one.”

Read more here: Hero At Home: Celebrating wounded warriors and their caregivers

"Road to Disaster" by Brian VanDeMark

"[Road to Disaster] is sure to appeal to those still searching for Vietnam War answers that even McNamara, Johnson, and their best and brightest advisers never found" — Publishers Weekly

Road to Disaster takes advantage of the newest source material and previously unheard recordings made privately by Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford. It is the first history of the Vietnam War that examines the decisions of the "Best and Brightest" through the prism of the latest research in cognitive science and psychology to determine why they did what they did. The book draws on nearly three decades of research and VanDeMark's extensive access to key players during that period. 

Read more here.

"Harley Tracks" by Mike Rinowski

“I have been aware of your journey, but I mostly avoid the Vietnam stuff as it causes me hurt. However, I took the book two days ago, and read it Sunday. I was 18 when I went there; it hurt me deeply as I now understand. I am glad you rode for those who can never do it.  Keep it up for those of us who “came home” but left a lot over there.” — John A. Shaver, Jr., Vietnam Veteran

Each year across America, millions of people ride their motorcycles to honor our fallen veterans — Mike took the opportunity to ride for them across the land they saw last. Harley Tracks takes you on the ride of a lifetime—a ride with a playful vengeance for those who never had the chance.

Read more here.

"Back to War" by C.G. Cooper

C.G. Cooper's novels both pull from and allow Cooper to reconnect with his time in the Marine Corps. As the son of a sailor and a veteran himself, Cooper says the military is in his blood — and leaving it was a difficult transition, as it often is. 

"I wanted to be connected again," said Cooper. "You leave and you think you know the world and you come out in the civilian world, and, for some people, it's a jarring experience. I was lucky to have a support system, family, extended family to help me with the transition, but you miss the camaraderie. The military's not perfect, but you miss the guys that you spend all that time with."

Cooper's characters are a conglomeration of his personality and experiences and those of the men and women he served with. 

Read more here: Author CG Cooper connects to his time in service through novel-writing

"Mastering Fear" by Brandon Webb

Nightmares of drowning? Panic attacks from public speaking? Afraid to leave your dead-end job? Fear of death?

Whether you're a Navy SEAL or an Average Joe, fear can paralyze you. But in his latest book, Brandon Webb shares a 5-step process, that will help you conquer anything holding you back. 

Listen to Connecting Vets's interview with Brandon Webb about his book, Mastering Fear: New book by former SEAL can change your life

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