Memorial Day Reading

Another book that I have begun reading to lighten my reading as I work on my current, longer reading project is “Combat and Other Shenanigans” by Piers Platt, which I picked up for free (apparently a real steal, as it’s now $5.99). I cracked it open in the wee hours this morning, then began to contemplate the other military titles currently on my Kindle. Many of them were downloaded with the thought that I wasn’t really super-interested, but they might make diverse topics just for this blog. And being as it was Memorial Day, I thought there was no more appropriate time to dive right in.

“Combat and Other Shenanigans” reminds me a lot of the movie “Jarhead,” which I really enjoyed, but it’s not these younger servicemen I think of on Memorial Day. (I know that like their older counterparts, there are still brave men and women in combat right now, and I appreciate that. Perhaps I just don’t want to think of it – people my age and even much younger out there on the front lines, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.)

So I flipped through my Kindle and selected a few more titles from my list to check out today.

First on my reading list was “Lest We Forget,” a short story by John W. Cassell. In this fictional story, written in the style of a military memoir, the protagonist worries that his own daughter will be the one to pay the price for his own infractions. It’s a moving and well-told story, and to me was quite fitting for a Memorial Day read. While it’s no longer free, I think the story is well worth $1. It’s also available through the Kindle Lending Library, though I generally chose longer fare for my borrowing. I might be interested in checking out some of Cassell’s others works someday.

I then moved on to a true memoir, “To War In Style by Mark Berent. I was not as captivated by this title. This short simply felt like it was only written with the intention of a freebie to encourage the reader to buy the author’s other books. There was no artful storytelling, just a few interesting scenarios thrown together and described in brief. This short is still available for free, so military buffs might want to give it a read – Berent’s tales might be of more interest to them than to me.

But my best read of the day was a full length memoir, “Private Dreams” by Ronald Mayle S.R. Although memoir, the narrative draws the reader in as well as fiction. You are transported to a time and place with the author as a younger man, meeting those going through basic training with him, experiencing the racial conflicts of the American ’60s as well as the attitudes about Vietnam and then being yanked unexpectedly into conflict in the Dominican Republic. The startling ending of the book, rife with conflict and speaking of the ways our military members put their lives on the line even outside the traditional battlefield, had me in tears and was a perfect fit for a Memorial Day read.

I was sadly disappointed, in researching for this article, that the only other offering Mayle currently has on the Kindle is a co-written work, and I hope that I’ll have opportunity to spend another day immersed in his easy storytelling in the future.

This book is currently $.99 and a great bargain at that price for any fan of military writing or historians interested in the Vietnam period.



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