Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget - Books about War

Canada at War : a graphic history of World War Two  (M)
written by Paul Keery ; illustrated by Michael Wyatt

"A beautifully crafted graphic novel, tracing the achievements of the Canadian Forces in the Second World War. In 1914, Canada went to war as a subject of Britain. In 1939, it made the choice to fight all on its own.Canada at War follows the developments and setbacks, wins and losses, of a nation learning to stand up for itself in the midst of the most difficult war of the 20th century.

In graphic-novel format, fully illustrated and in full colour, Canada at War shows the growth of a nation's army, navy and air force through movingly depicted triumphs and tragedies. From the disheartening losses at Dieppe and Hong Kong through the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasion of Sicily, it focuses on the human dimension of the key battles and decisions that ultimately swung the war in the Allies' favour. This poignant graphic account ends, after the victories of D-Day and Juno Beach and the liberation of Europe, with a final reckoning of the legacy these storied years have had on a country forged through war. Aimed at both adult and young adult readers, this very human history tells the stories behind some of this country's most distinguishing military moments.

The Watch : a novel (M)
by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

"*Starred Review* After barely repelling a savage attack, U.S. soldiers manning a small, remote combat outpost in Kandahar are further shaken when a young, legless, burqa-clad woman appears on a wheeled platform. Nizam tells the Americans her brother led the attack and that she has come to bury him. The 27-year-old outpost commander tells her the body is to be shipped to Kabul, as per orders. Nizam refuses to leave without burying her brother.

So begins a test of wills. Informed from the perspectives of Nizam, a number of soldiers, and their Afghan interpreter, we learn that Nizam's entire family, except her now-dead brother, were killed by a U.S. bombing. Her brother, a committed enemy of the Taliban, attacked the outpost to avenge his family. Roy-Bhattacharya, whose beguiling The Storyteller of Marrakesh (2010) examined the nature of truth and memory, has recast the story of Antigone in the context of the tragic Afghan war. Like Antigone, Nizam is determined to honor her brother, her family, and the teachings of her culture. The by-the-book commander simply assumes she is an enemy. But Nizam's determination inspires some of the soldiers to question their orders. The Watch touches on nearly every trope of war novels, but like the best of the breed, it does so in fresh, exciting ways. Difficult to put down, powerful, eloquent, and even haunting" - Booklist

The Absolutist
by John Boyne

"This award-winning Irish author (The Boy in Striped Pyjamas) has written a most English book. In 1919, young Tristan Sadler, a recovering veteran of World War I, travels by train to Norwich to return some letters to the sister of regiment mate Will Bancroft, who was killed in combat. Readers looking forward- to refined conversation over tea as the two lament his death are in for an uncomfortable shock, as alternating lengthy chapters descend into the hell of a war not well remembered now: the mud, lice, and rats in the subterranean trenches, to say nothing of the carnage in meaningless battles. Tristan struggles with huge secrets. One is his homosexuality, which, in early 20th-century fashion, is not named outright. The other is Will's ultimate fate, brought about as the understaffed British troops arguably go mad under the pressures of war.

VERDICT A thought-provoking and surprising page-turner that for some readers may recall Ian McEwan's Atonement, another novel with themes of war and recrimination" - Library Journal

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