My TBR Confessions include a harrowing retelling of World War II’s Pacific Theater, a grass-roots rebellion from a German couple inside Nazi territory, and a famous killer clown to whom I’ve never been formally introduced.
CURRENTLY READING: With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge. Recently, I’ve binged my way through HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific, and I wanted to follow up my immersion into World War II by reading Sledge’s haunting memoir of his time spent fighting the Japanese. The man who would become known as Sledgehammer is one of the main characters in The Pacific, and when I learned that his memoir was used as source material for a great deal of the miniseries, I knew I had to read it.
Sledge grew up in Mobile, Alabama, in an affluent family, but overcome by patriotism, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he joined the famous 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. His first taste of the war came in the battle of Peleliu, where it didn’t take long for the varnish on the allure of war to fade. By the time Sledge makes it to Okinawa, he’s a hardened combat veteran with a deep hatred for the Japanese. Normally, I struggle maintaining interest in military histories and memoirs, because it’s clear that there’s a biased tone. What makes With the Old Breed so different is that Sledge is unfiltered in his thoughts, describing both the good and bad of both sides of the war, and ultimately, the horrors of which mankind is capable of committing.
JUST FINISHED: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. As you could probably tell by now, I enjoy reading about World War II, and Hans Fallada’s fictional (but based on true stories) tale of an elderly German couple committed to disrupting the Nazi’s agenda is both moving and memorable. Fallada published this book in 1947, a mere two years after Hitler surrendered – a fact that needs to be understood to properly reflect on the weight of this story. Highly critical of the Nazi regime, Every Man Dies Alone follows Otto and Anna Quangel, two hardworking Germans who start off like most of the German populous—too scared to reveal their actual feelings about the Nazi Party. Soon, the Quangel’s son dies in the war, and suddenly they’re no longer content with sitting idly by as Hitler continues pushing his terrible agenda, and they embark on a truth-telling campaign that could cost them their lives.
If you enjoyed Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, I wholeheartedly recommend Every Man Dies Alone. Fallada’s book dives much deeper into the psyche of the average German citizen, and how fear and self-preservation can lead people to the darkest of depths.
UP NEXT: It by Stephen King. I’ve only just embarked on the long trip that is Stephen King’s dense library, and after finishing The Stand last month, I immediately ordered It for my next adventure, but boy, did I underestimate the size of this thing. Unlike The Stand, where I ordered a nifty mass market copy with pages thinner and frailer than Mother Abigail, I snagged a first edition hardcopy of It off eBay. I should have checked the page count! Currently, I’m hyping myself up to start lugging it with me on the subway each morning to work, but that’s a work in progress.
THE REST OF THE HEAP:
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates, a psychological thriller where six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic results.
Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie, another memoir of the Pacific Theater that was used to shape the scripts of The Pacific.
The Fall by R.J. Pineiro, a sci-fi thriller where a man jumps from the outermost reaches of the atmosphere and lands on Earth five years into the future—a future where he’s already dead. (Read an excerpt of The Fall!)
Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.
Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.