Continuing on the McCain Beat

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The Senator supplied the WSJ [$] with five favorite recommended books about war and soldiers. I’ll leave it to readers to figure out what else they have in common (quotes are from McCain’s reviews):

1. For Whom The Bell Tolls

By Ernest Hemingway

Jordan “becomes disenchanted — not necessarily with his cause but with its leaders and with their foreign allies. Still, in the end, Jordan voluntarily sacrifices his life for the sake of the people he fought alongside, the people he had come to love.”

2. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
By Edward Gibbon

“[T]his peerless imperial power had a hand in its own decay, done in by decadence, corruption and war. The soldiers of Rome’s legions could not make up for the negligence of their leaders.”

3. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness
By T.R. Fehrenbach

It “elates in detail how American soldiers — many of whom were poorly trained and equipped — bore the burden of bad planning and the bad decisions of their senior commanders.”

4. Hell in a Very Small Place
By Bernard B. Fall

A “fascinating look at the decisions in the French Indo-China war that led to the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, when a communist guerrilla force overwhelmed a French military base. The book also explores how the battle influenced America’s involvement in Vietnam and how it helped the enemy learn a strategy and gain the confidence to fight us.”

5. All Quiet on the Western Front
By Erich Maria Remarque

A “timeless reminder that whether a conflict is necessary or not, whether it is ably commanded or mishandled, whether its outcome is just or unjust, war is a deadly enterprise. We should all shed a tear when war claims its wages.”

It’s a fascinating list, and clearly the product of a thoughtful person. It’s also a good way to remember the reason we all have Monday off is not, exactly, about celebrating.

If you’re looking for a way to mark the day more personally, this weekend might be a good time to get involved with Books for Soldiers (I love their tagline, “Care Packages for the Mind”) — heck, send ‘em some of these titles….maybe on behalf of McCain. I don’t think he’d mind.

UPDATE: Right, he didn’t say favorite, just “recommended.”

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