Today, we pay tribute to the American men and women who have died in service to our country. To honor the occasion we have curated a list of nonfiction titles – for adults and young readers – that honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s military.
“That is how we always keep our beloved dead alive, isn’t it? By telling stories about them; true stories.” ―
THE MATHEWS MEN: SEVEN BROTHERS AND THE WAR AGAINST HITLER’S U-BOATS by William Geroux
Mathews County, Virginia, a bleak strip of land along the Chesapeake with almost nothing to offer—sent one of the largest concentrations of sea captains and merchant mariners of any community in America to fight in World War II. The Mathews Men shows us the war far beyond traditional battlefields—much of it just off the US coast—but also takes us to the landing beaches at D Day and to the Pacific. “When final victory is ours,” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had predicted, “there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the Merchant Marine.”
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS by James Bradley, Ron Powers
Here is the true story behind the immortal photograph that has come to symbolize the courage and indomitable will of America. In February 1945, American Marines plunged into the surf at Iwo Jima–and into history. Through a hail of machine-gun and mortar fire that left the beaches strewn with comrades, they battled to the island’s highest peak. And there, they raised a flag. The son of one of the flag raisers has written a powerful account of six very different men who came together in the heroic battle.
A BRIGHT SHINING LIE: JOHN PAUL VANN AND AMERICA IN VIETNAMby Neil Sheehan
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
One of the most acclaimed books of our time—the definitive Vietnam War exposé in which renowned journalist tells the story of John Vann—“the one irreplaceable American in Vietnam”—and of the tragedy that destroyed a country and squandered so much of America’s young manhood and resources.
AN AMERICAN FAMILY: A MEMOIR OF HOPE AND SACRIFICE by Khzir Khan
Having instilled the same ideals that brought him to America in the first place, Khan relates the heroic and tragic story of his middle son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who is killed while protecting his base camp in Iraq, and the ways in which their undying pride in him and his sacrifice have helped them endure the deepest despair a parent can know. An American Family is a lyrical and intimate depiction of what being an American really means.
THE INVISIBLE FRONT: LOVE AND LOSS IN AN ERA OF ENDLESS WARby Yochi Dreazen
The unforgettable story of a military family that lost two sons—one to suicide and one in combat—and channeled their grief into fighting the armed forces’ suicide epidemic.
The Mexican-American families who lived on a single street in Silvis, Illinois sent fifty-seven of their children to fight in World War II and Korea—more than any other place that size anywhere in the country. Eight of those children died. It’s a distinction recognized by the Department of Defense, one that earned that strip a distinguished name: Hero Street. Based on interviews with relatives, friends, and soldiers who served alongside the men, as well as personal letters and photographs, The Ghosts of Hero Street is the compelling and inspiring account of a street of soldiers—and men—who would not be denied their dignity or their honor.
FOR YOUNGER READERS
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS: HEROES OF IWO JIMA (Young Readers edition) by James Bradley, Ron Powers, Michael French
New York Times bestseller, now adapted for young readers, Flags of Our Fathers is the unforgettable chronicle of perhaps the most famous moment in American military history: the raising of the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND: AMERICA’S WAR IN VIETNAM by Elizabeth Partridge
Winner of the National Book Award
In March 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson sent troops into Vietnam. 57,939 American soldiers would be killed and seventeen years would pass before this controversial chapter of American history concluded with the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. The history of this era is complex, but it’s the personal stories of eight people—six American soldiers, one American nurse, and one Vietnamese refugee—that form the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic medic rescues and evacuations, each individual’s story reveals a different facet of the war and moves us forward in time.