Karl Marlantes [Matterhorn: A Novel of the Viet Nam War] returns with What It is Like to Go to War. His new book is a nonfiction, philosophical, historical, memoir and reflection on his days as a Marine in Viet Nam. Frankly, I have never read anything quite like this book and suggest that anyone who is concerned for the country or has a friend, son, daughter, brother, sister, or lover who has experienced battle (virtually or otherwise) will find it very helpful. This book is beautiful, gut wrenching, and deeply moving. Marlantes has done us all a great service and has shown great courage in revealing his personal story. He has rewarded us many times over for his thoughtful analysis and reflection on war and what it means to the human spirit. The sections on how to welcome the veteran home and to help one with post traumatic stress are worthy of group discussion. I hope that this book gains a wide readership immediately. It is, in my view, going to become a classic of the genre. Please make time for this book. Bronson Pinchot's narration is excellent.
Allan Eckert published The Frontiersmen over a decade ago. I have just returned to renew acquaintance with this work and have been rewarded by the effort. Eckert presents history as narrative and in this book he describes the lives, sacrifices, and problems faced by American frontiersmen – white and Indian alike. At the same time this book can be gut wrenching, eye opening, heart breaking, and entertaining. Sections dealing with the relationships between the Indians, settlers, and the US government are nuanced and particularly painful to read. If you will give over a little time and turn some pages, Eckert will make early American history – westward expansion, Daniel Boone, William Henry Harrison, the fight for Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley all come to life The reading of Kevin Foley is excellent.
Del Quentin Wilber spins quite a yarn with “Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan”. This is a detailed telling of the story and a page turner at that. Wilber has, in the process, done a great service to readers by revealing current information about the attack not readily available at the time. The chapters on the attack, the trip to the hospital, the surgeons’ work and surrounding circumstances is particularly exciting. The author, to me at least, seems to admire Reagan and some who did not care for him or his policies might be put off. However, if one will just read the story much can be learned. The reading of Jason Culp is very good.
So right off the bat let me say this is an excellent general overview of the Civil War - but not of Reconstruction. The book is around 20 hours long and he don't even get to Reconstruction until the last hour and a half. So know that coming in and you shouldn't be disappointed.
OK now for the review.
At this point I've read and listened to probably more than a hundred of Civil War books, this would rank near the top of them. This would be a great book for someone that doesn't know much about the Civil War as it is not a military history of the war and it's not in great depth, instead it more or less is a narrative that provides atmosphere and gives you all the fundamentals you need to understand what happened and why. At the same time I still found it interesting as a refresher since it's easy to listen to and well structured. There wasn't a lot of new material in there but the other does a good job of keeping the story moving and not going back over the same material you've read in other history books 100 times. He does bring new narratives to the story, personal accounts and such that I have not heard before and that helps great for the Civil War buff.
Another review said that the book has a southern bias and that's ridiculous, I've read enough Civil War material to know what is biased and what isn't, this clearly falls into the non-biased category.
The reader does an excellent job as well.
So in closing I'd highly recommend this book to people who want to begin to have an understanding of the Civil War and want it in an interesting and easy to read (listen to) format. If you're just starting out this book should be interesting to you and hopefully will work as a bridge to get you into more in-depth reading (listening) later.
Also I very much believe anyone already interested in the Civil War that might want a refresher or just wants a good narrative of the war will enjoy this as well.
I do NOT recommend this for anyone that want's an understanding of Reconstruction as it's breezed through way to quickly to be of any use. If you can get past that this is very very much a 5-star book.