On Veterans Day, Stories Of Heroes And Homecoming

This Veterans Day, NPR Books went into the archives to find stories of combat and coping. A mother describes the emotional minefield of having a child at war, a Marine writes a memoir of a mortuary, and a photojournalist pays tribute to two centuries of Native-Americans in the military.


Yellow Birds book cover detail

Stories From A New Generation Of American Soldiers
More than 10 years since a new generation of Americans went into combat, the soldiers themselves are starting to write the story of war. Three works of fiction — The Long Walk, The Yellow Birds and Fobbit — show how their experiences give them the authority to describe the war, fictionalize it and even satirize it. (Morning Edition story, Sept. 11, 2012)


Sue Diaz

A Mother's 'Minefields' When A Child Deploys
Writer Sue Diaz was surprised when her son Roman told her that he was joining the Army. She writes about the emotional roller coaster her family experienced when her son left for war — and how her relationship with Roman changed — in her 2010 memoir, Minefields of the Heart. (Fresh Air interview, Aug. 17, 2010)


War

Sebastian Junger On The Thrill And Hell Of 'War'
Junger visited Afghanistan's Korengal Valley five times as a reporter embedded with part of the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade as it attempted to thwart the Taliban in rough mountain terrain. In 2010 he published War, his attempt to understand what makes combat so appealing to young men. (Morning Edition interview, May 11, 2010)


Karl Marlantes shipped off to Vietnam as a 23-year-old second lieutenant in 1968.

'Matterhorn' Author On What It's Like 'To Go To War'
As a Marine in Vietnam, Karl Marlantes learned to fire an M16, to command a platoon, to fight and to kill — but he was never taught how to deal with killing. In his 2011 memoir, What It Is Like to Go to War, he comes to terms with the guilt and the thrill of combat, and the challenge of coming home. (Talk of the Nation interview, Aug. 30, 2011)


Operation Homecoming

'Operation Homecoming': The Writings Of War
When editor Andrew Carroll first read Ryan Alexander's "The Cat," the startling imagery of the former Marine's poem took his breath away. After all, troops aren't known for readily sharing their innermost feelings — certainly not with a wide audience. The poem is part of a collection called Operation Homecoming. (Morning Edition interview, July 4, 2007)


Bob and Barbara Palmer. Credit: Courtesy Barbara Palmer

'No Ordinary Joes' Tells Stories Of Love And War
Bob Palmer, Chuck Vervalin, Tim McCoy and Gordy Cox were teenagers when the Japanese sank their submarine in World War II. Author Larry Colton tells their story of tragedy and survival in his 2010 book No Ordinary Joes: The Extraordinary True Story of Four Submariners in War and Love and Life. (Talk of the Nation interview, Oct. 5, 2010)


An honor guard consisting of members from Santo Domingo Pueblo wait to present colors at Lt. Ayon's warrior dance in 2008. Credit: Steven Clevenger

Native American 'Warriors' Mark Military Service
Native-Americans have been influential in the U.S. military for more than 200 years. They assisted George Washington, served during the War of 1812 and have continued to defend the country into the 21st century. War correspondent and photojournalist Steven Clevenger talks about his 2010 book America's First Warriors. (Tell Me More interview, Nov. 11, 2010)


Jess Goodell spent eight months in the the Marine Corps' Mortuary Affairs unit, cataloging the bodies and personal effects of fallen troops in Iraq. She now lives in Buffalo, N.Y., and plans to attend graduate school in the fall.

'Death And After In Iraq': Memoir Of A Mortuary
Marine Jess Goodell spent eight months recovering and processing the remains of fallen troops in the Mortuary Affairs unit. "I don't think I ever stopped smelling death when I was in Iraq," she says. Goodell describes her experience in her 2011 memoir Shade It Black. (Talk of the Nation interview, June 21, 2011)


Tim O'Brien Credit: Meredith O'Brien

'The Things They Carried,' 20 Years On
In war, there are no winners. That's what readers have taken away from Tim O'Brien's book about the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried, in the 20 years since its publication. O'Brien discusses what he still carries from his time in Vietnam. (Talk of the Nation interview, March 24, 2010)

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