Military Fiction: The Colonel’s Reading List

The Colonel's Reading List from Manning the WallI’m looking around my library with some despondency. Oh, the new coat of paint on the sheet rock – a light silver-ish blue – looks great. And the placeholders are doing the job. One folding table serves as Lois’ return. The other is the spare workstation and holds a computer and television turned to the news. Lois and I sit across from each other, a 3/4” piece of plywood serving as our partners desk. On her side I was able to install a keyboard tray using scrap lumber and a pair of inexpensive drawer slides. A pair of unfinished pinewood file cabinets on one side supports the desk on one side, and a set of braced 2x3s holds up the other end. We expect the maple wood tops in about two weeks. It’s a shared vision between spouses. It’s pleasant. Yet, I look around the room and sigh. No books. A library should have books. But a library needs shelves to have books, and the oak shelves are coming after the desktops.

Here are three selections from the shelves the bins in the basement:

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Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein, 1959.

Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein featured on Manning the WallA society that cannot find enough volunteers to defend it isn’t worthy of survival. Centuries in the future, the human race is unified and has reached the stars, only to find them teeming with implacable enemies. Johnny Rico, a Filipino high school graduate takes us through his journey in the first person. The reader gets a front-row seat as Rico goes through basic training, tastes combat, and is selected for Officer Candidate School. Rico, learns how a civilization is sustained, and gains a measure of self-respect commensurate with his achievements.

Under The Eagle, Simmon Scarrow, 2002.

Under the Eagle by Simon Scarrow featured on Manning the WallDuty and Honor, to one’s comrades, and even to an imperfect nation. Young Cato arrives in camp with a letter from the Roman Emperor Claudius, and the ability to read and write. This earns him an appointment to Optio (company executive officer). The reader is taken from the heart of Germany to the shores of Britain as Cato finds his place among the legions, fighting the enemies of Rome, both within and without.

The Hunt For Red October, Tom Clancy, 1984.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThis was Tom Clancy’s debut novel with which he invented the techno-thriller genre. Due to the novel’s accuracy and detail, Clancy was debriefed at the Whitehouse and needed to prove that all his research sources were unclassified.  Naval Captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius and his officers attempt to defect to the United States with the Soviet Union’s most advanced submarine. The insight into submarine tactics and operational art as well as the complex relationships among naval crews made this one of the defining novels of the Cold War.

That’s three. In the coming weeks I’ll expand on the genres. If you ever pick up one of these please let me know. I would enjoy getting your insights.

About Phil Christensen

The trail behind me is littered with failure. The trail before me remains to be seen.
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10 Responses to Military Fiction: The Colonel’s Reading List

  1. I did not read the book, but I saw the movie and I found it to be absurd that the second officer, played by Sam Neil, would rather drive a pick-up truck in Montana than be a top officer in the Soviet Navy on the greatest submarine. I can let the impossible faster-than-light travel have a pass in your other book, Starship Troopers for the sake of the story, but not the implausible reasoning of Sam Neil’s character in this book/movie.

    • Well, I’m not reviewing the movie or the book. Just providing a synopsis of something I read. Having said that, the scene was meant give a little depth to the character. Borodin was supposed to come off as world weary – a man stripped of his ideals. It never occurred to me that it might have come off as absurd to some, but your point has merit.

  2. I did not read the book, but I saw the movie and I found it to be absurd that the second officer, played by Sam Neil, would rather drive a pick-up truck in Montana than be a top officer in the Soviet Navy on the greatest submarine. I can let the impossible faster-than-light travel have a pass in your other book, Starship Troopers, for the sake of the story, but not the implausible reasoning of Sam Neil’s character in this book/movie.

    • We haven’t done FTL – yet, and ‘impulse’ – the idea of traveling through the void without pushing off the gravity of planets – is only in the research stage. The hole in Troopers is that it does not really address relativity and how we’re managing to jump between stars. But if you’re going to assume interstellar travel, as so much of science fiction does, then sometimes were asked to take it for granted.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Under The Eagle sounds right up my alley…..I’m a historical fiction fanatic, and always looking for new suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  4. P.S. May I recommend a couple of excellent books.
    1. The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter by W. D. M. Bell, and
    2. Mr. Archer U.S.A. as told to R. H. Platt Jr.

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks!!

  6. Breanna says:

    This post is really interesting. I have bookmarked it.
    Do you allow guest post on your page ? I can write hi quality posts for you.
    Let me know.

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