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What to Read

Need a reading recommendation? Well, you've come to the right place. Each month our What to Read page highlights a few of our recent favorites, plus the latest best-sellers to hit our shelves and the hottest "coming soon" titles. 

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Salute to service

This month, we remember those who gave their lives defending our nation's freedom with this special collection of books honoring military service. 

Eagle down: the last special forces fighting the forever war

BY JESSICA DONATI

In 2015, the White House claimed triumphantly that “the longest war in American history” was over. But for some, it was just theUntitled-design.png beginning of a new war, fought by Special Operations Forces, with limited resources, little governmental oversight, and contradictory orders.
 
With big picture insight and on-the-ground grit, Jessica Donati shares the stories of the impossible choices these soldiers must make. After the fall of a major city to the Taliban that year, Hutch, a battle-worn Green Beret on his fifth combat tour was ordered on a secret mission to recapture it and inadvertently called in an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing dozens. Caleb stepped on a bomb during a mission in notorious Sangin. Andy was trapped with his team during a raid with a crashed Black Hawk and no air support.
 
Through successive policy directives under the Obama and Trump administrations, America has come to rely almost entirely on US Special Forces, and without a long-term plan, is failing to stabilize Afghanistan, undermining US interests both at home and abroad.
 
Eagle Down is a riveting account of the heroism, sacrifice, and tragedy experienced by those that continue to fight America’s longest war.

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three wise men: a navy seal, a green beret, and how their marine brother became a war's sole survivor

BY BEAU WISE AND TOM SILEO

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, three brothers by blood became brothers in arms when each volunteered to defend their country. No3-wise-men-final.png military family has sacrificed more during the ensuing war, which has become the longest ever fought by America’s armed forces.

While serving in Afghanistan, US Navy SEAL veteran and CIA contractor Jeremy Wise was killed in an al Qaeda suicide bombing that devastated the US intelligence community. Less than three years later, US Army Green Beret sniper Ben Wise was fatally wounded after volunteering for a dangerous assignment during a firefight with the Taliban. Ben was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, while Jeremy received the Intelligence Star―one of the rarest awards bestowed by the U.S. government―and also a star on the CIA’s Memorial Wall.

United States Marine Corps combat veteran Beau Wise is the only known American service member to be pulled from the battlefield after losing two brothers in Afghanistan. Told in Beau’s voice, Three Wise Men is an American family’s historic true story of service and sacrifice.

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take me home huey: HONORING AMERICAN HEROES THROUGH ART

BY STEVE MALONEY, CLARE NOLAN AND DANIELL CORNELL

Take Me Home Huey: Honoring American Heroes Through Art is the moving story of visionary artist Steve Maloney's mission tohuey_final.png honor Vietnam veterans by resurrecting a shattered medevac helicopter that was shot down on Valentine's Day 1969, and dramatically transforming it into a traveling sculptural memorial to honor those who served.

The book documents, through stunning photographs and Maloney's narrative, how the artwork evolved from a wish to honor Vietnam service members 50 years after the war's end into a touchstone for solace and connection among veterans, including some with PTSD.

Interviews throughout the unique narrative provide vital context for the multi-media work. Readers will hear from the former medevac crewmen, other veterans of the helicopter war, PTSD survivors, art therapists, and historians, as well as journalist Joe Galloway, the official spokesperson of the national Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration.

The book is the perfect capstone of this groundbreaking multimedia project that includes the sculpture, as well as an Emmy award-winning film and an original song.


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facing the mountain: a true story of japanese american heroes in world war ii

BY DANIEL JAMES BROWN

They came from across the continent and Hawaii. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways offacing-the-mountain-final.png America. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire.

Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Daniel James Brown's extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons, who volunteered for 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible.

But this is more than a war story. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers' parents, immigrants who were forced to shutter the businesses, surrender their homes, and submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of a brave young man, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best--striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.

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the bomber mafia: a dream, a temptation and the longest night of the second world war

BY MALCOLM GLADWELL

In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band ofbomber-mafia-final.png brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.
 
Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists, the “Bomber Mafia,” asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?  
 
In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, “Was it worth it?”
 
Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.

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ghost flames: life & death in a hidden war, korea 1950-1953

BY CHARLES HANLEY

 The war that broke out in Korea on a Sunday morning seventy years ago has come to be recognized as a critical turning point in modernghost-flames-final.png history -- as the first great clash of arms of the Cold War, the last conflict between superpowers, the root of a nuclear crisis that grips the world to this day.

In this vivid, emotionally compelling, and highly original account, Charles J. Hanley tells the story of the Korean War through the eyes of twenty individuals who lived through it--from a North Korean refugee girl to an American nun, a Chinese general to a black American prisoner of war, a British journalist to a U.S. Marine hero.

This is an intimate, deeper kind of history, whose meticulous research and rich detail, drawing on recently unearthed materials and eyewitness accounts, bring the true face of the Korean War, and the vastness of its human tragedy, into a sharper focus than ever before. The "forgotten war" becomes unforgettable.

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D-DAY GIRLS: THE spies who armed the resistance, sabotaged the nazis, and helped win world war ii

BY SARAH ROSE CROWN

In 1942, the Allies were losing, Germany seemed unstoppable, and every able man in England was on the front lines. To “set Europed-day-final.png ablaze,” in the words of Winston Churchill, the Special Operations Executive  (SOE), whose spies were trained in everything from demolition to sharpshooting, was forced to do something unprecedented: recruit women. Thirty-nine answered the call, leaving their lives and families to become saboteurs in France.

In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently de­classified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the thrilling story of three of these remarkable women. There’s Andrée Borrel, a scrappy and streetwise Parisian who blew up power lines with the Gestapo hot on her heels; Odette Sansom, an unhappily married suburban mother who saw the SOE as her ticket out of domestic life and into a meaningful adventure; and Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent member of French colonial high society and the SOE’s unflap­pable “queen.” Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence—laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war.

Rigorously researched and written with razor-sharp wit, D-Day Girls is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance: a reminder of what courage—and the energy of politically animated women—can accomplish when the stakes seem incalculably high.

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soaring to glory: a tuskegee airman's firsthand account of world war ii

BY PHILIP HANDLEMAN

He had to sit in a segregated rail car on the journey to Army basic training in Mississippi in 1943. But two years later, the twenty-year-TUSKEGEE-FINAL.pngold African American from New York was at the controls of a P-51, prowling for Luftwaffe aircraft at five thousand feet over the Austrian countryside. By the end of World War II, he had done something that nobody could take away from him:

He had become an American hero.

This is the remarkable true story of Lt. Col. Harry Stewart Jr., one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen pilots who experienced air combat during World War II. Award-winning aviation writer Philip Handleman recreates the harrowing action and heart-pounding drama of Stewart’s combat missions, including the legendary mission in which Stewart downed three enemy fighters.

Soaring to Glory also reveals the cruel injustices Stewart and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen faced during their wartime service and upon return home after the war. Stewart’s heroism was not celebrated as it should have been in postwar America—but now, his boundless courage and determination will never be forgotten.

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on desperate ground: the marines at the reservoir, the korean war's greatest battle

BY HAMPTON SIDES

On October 15, 1950, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of UN troops in Korea, convinced President Harry Trumandesperate-ground-final.png that the Communist forces of Kim Il-sung would be utterly defeated by Thanksgiving. The Chinese, he said with near certainty, would not intervene in the war.

As he was speaking, 300,000 Red Chinese soldiers began secretly crossing the Manchurian border. Led by some 20,000 men of the First Marine Division, the Americans moved deep into the snowy mountains of North Korea, toward the trap Mao had set for the vainglorious MacArthur along the frozen shores of the Chosin Reservoir. What followed was one of the most heroic--and harrowing--operations in American military history, and one of the classic battles of all time. Faced with probable annihilation, and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero, the surrounded, and hugely outnumbered, Marines fought through the enemy forces with ferocity, ingenuity, and nearly unimaginable courage as they marched their way to the sea.

Hampton Sides' superb account of this epic clash relies on years of archival research, unpublished letters, declassified documents, and interviews with scores of Marines and Koreans who survived the siege. While expertly detailing the follies of the American leaders, On Desperate Ground is an immediate, grunt's-eye view of history, enthralling in its narrative pace and powerful in its portrayal of what ordinary men are capable of in the most extreme circumstances.

Hampton Sides has been hailed by critics as one of the best nonfiction writers of his generation. As the Miami Herald wrote, "Sides has a novelist's eye for the propulsive elements that lend momentum and dramatic pace to the best nonfiction narratives."

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