Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dragonriders of Pern


Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Author: Anne McCaffrey

Summary: The first three books in the world's most beloved science fiction series, THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN: DRAGONFLIGHT, DRAGONQUEST, THE WHITE DRAGON. Those who know these extraordinary tales will be able to re-visit with Lessa, F'lar, Ruth, Lord Jaxon, and all the others. And for those just discovering this magical place, there are incomparable tales of danger, deceit, and daring, just waiting to be explored..

Catch 22


Category: Satire

Author: Joseph Heller

Summary: At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn't even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Closing Time


Category: Satire

Author: Joseph Heller

Summary: The sequel to his American classic, using many of Catch-22's characters, now older if not wiser, to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II. Yossarian, and Milo Minderbinder, the chaplain, and such newcomers as little Sammy Singer and giant Lew, all linked, this time in uneasy peace and old age, fighting, not the Germans this time, but The End.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


Category: Satire

Author: Ken Kesey

Summary: This is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome power of the Combine.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Category: Satire

Author: Mark Twain

Summary: Mark Twain's story about a young boy and his journey down the Mississippi

Celestial Navigation


Category: Satire

Author: Anne Tyler

Summary: Thirty-eight-year-old Jeremy Pauling has never left home. He lives on the top floor of a Baltimore row house where he creates collages of little people snipped from wrapping paper. His elderly mother putters in the rooms below, until her death. And it is then that Jeremy is forced to take in Mary Tell and her child as boarders. Mary is unaware of how much courage it takes Jeremy to look her in the eye. For Jeremy, like one of his paper creations, is fragile and easily torn--especially when he's falling in love....

Cat's Cradle


Category: Satire/Fantasy/Science Fiction

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: Cat's Cradle, one of Vonnegut's most entertaining novels, is filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks caught up in the game. These assorted characters chase each other around in search of the world's most important and dangerous substance, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature. At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America; it's still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you're young enough to have missed the first Vonnegut craze.

Slaughterhouse Five

Category:     Satire/Fantasy/Science Fiction     

Author:     Kurt Vonnegut

Summary:  Billy Pilgrim is a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Breakfast of Champions


Category: Satire/Fantasy/Science Fiction

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: "We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane." So reads the tombstone of downtrodden writer Kilgore Trout, but we have no doubt who's really talking: his alter ego Kurt Vonnegut. Health versus sickness, humanity versus inhumanity--both sets of ideas bounce through this challenging and funny book. As with the rest of Vonnegut's pure fantasy, it lacks the shimmering, fact-fueled rage that illuminates Slaughterhouse-Five. At the same time, that makes this book perhaps more enjoyable to read.

Welcome to the Monkey House


Category: Satire/Fantasy/ScienceFiction

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works. These superb stories share Vonnegut's audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.

Catcher in the Rye


Category: Satire

Author: J.D. Salinger

Summary: Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins, His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

Nine Stories


Category: Satire

Author: J.D. Salinger

Summary: The works of J.D. Salinger have been acclaimed for their humor, intensity, and their lack of phoniness. A collection of short fiction, Nine Stories contains works with those qualities that make Salinger such a well-loved author.

In Cold Blood


Category: Gothic

Author: Truman Capote

Summary: Truman Capote contributed to a style of writing in which the reporter gets so far inside the subject, becomes so familiar, that he projects events and conversations as if he were really there. Two two-time losers living in a lonely house in western Kansas are out to make the heist of their life, but when things don't go as planned, the robbery turns ugly. From there, the book is a real-life look into murder, prison, and the criminal mind.

The Sound and the Fury


Category: Gothic

Author: William Faulkner

Summary: The story is told in the interior voices of three Compson brothers: first Benjy, the "idiot" man-child who blurs together three decades of inchoate sensations as he stalks the fringes of the family's former pasture; next Quentin, torturing himself brilliantly, obsessively over Caddy's lost virginity and his own failure to recover the family's honor as he wanders around the seedy fringes of Boston; and finally Jason, heartless, shrewd, sneaking, nursing a perpetual sense of injury and outrage against his outrageous family.

As I Lay Dying


Category: Gothic

Author: William Faulkner

Summary: The members of the Bundren family must take the body of Addie, matriarch of the family, to the town where Addie wanted to be buried. Along the way, we listen to each of the members on the macabre pilgrimage, while Faulkner heaps upon them various flavors of disaster.

The House of Seven Gables


Category: Gothic

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Summary: Hawthorne's tale about the hold of the past over the present. The tales is about a venerable New England family, one of whose members was accused of witchcraft in 17th century Salem. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on had times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Category: Gothic

Author: Shirley Jackson

Summary: Visitors call seldom at Blackwood House. Taking tea at the scene of a multiple poisoning, with a suspected murderess as one's host, is a perilous business. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic, to guard them against the distrust and hostility of neighboring villagers. Or so she believes. But at last the magic fails. A stranger arrives--cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune. Unable to drive him away Merricat adopts more desperate methods. The result is crisis and tragedy, the revelation of a terrible secret, the convergence of the villagers upon the house, and a spectacular unleashing of collective spite.

The Lottery


Category: Gothic

Author: Shirley Jackson

Summary: When Tessie Hutchinson draws the unlucky token and objects that “It wasn’t fair,” the townspeople urge her to be a good sport and accept her prize. All the townspeople join in the stoning, even her own children. The idea of the lottery itself refers back to a primitive fertility custom of scapegoating; that is, choosing one member of the community to be sacrificed to appease the gods and assure a good crop. What makes the story so disturbing is that it does not take place in a primitive society in the distant past but rather in America in the 20th century.

The Turn of the Screw


Category: Gothic

Author: Henry James

Summary: The story starts with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff doesn't know what she's talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children's uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid?

The Shining


Category: Gothic

Author: Stephen King

Summary: The Overlook Hotel is more than just a home-away-from-home for the Torrance family. For Jack, Wendy, and their young son, Danny, it is a place where past horrors come to life. And where those gifted with the shining do battle with the darkest evils.

Blood Meridian

Category:     Gothic     

Author:     Cormac McCarthy

Summary:  If what we call "horror" can be seen as including any literature that has dark, horrific subject matter, then Blood Meridian is the best horror novel ever written. It's a perverse, picaresque Western about bounty hunters for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s--a ragged caravan of indiscriminate killers led by an unforgettable human monster called "The Judge." From the opening scenes about a 14-year-old Tennessee boy who joins the band of hunters to the extraordinary, mythic ending, this is an American classic about extreme violence.

Wise Blood


Category: Gothic

Author: Flannery O’Connor

Summary: This is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a "blind" street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Lily Sabbath. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel Motes founds The Church Without Christ, but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with "wise blood," who leads him to a mummified holy child, and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel's existential struggles.

The Violent Bear It Away


Category: Gothic

Author: Flannery O’Connor

Summary: The orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle--that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues: Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more "reasonable" modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul.

The Cask of Amontillado

Category: Gothic

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Summary: Furious because of unspecified insults by Fortunato, the nobleman Montresor seeks revenge. By appealing to his enemy’s pride, Montresor lures Fortunato into his family vaults to sample some wine to determine if it is true Amontillado. Once there, Montresor bricks the drunken man into a niche in the wall to die.

The Tell-Tale Heart

Category: Gothic

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Summary: A nameless, first-person narrator tells the story of his calculating murder of an old man for whose care he was responsible. His reason for telling the tale is to prove to the reader, whom he addresses directly, that he is not insane.

The Raven

Category:     Gothic     

Author:     Edgar Allan Poe

Summary:  “The Raven” is a ballad of eighteen six-line. The ballad is a nightmarish narrative of a young man who, bereaved by the death of the woman he loved, compulsively constructs self-destructive meaning around a raven’s repetition of the word “Nevermore,” until he finally despairs of being reunited with his beloved Lenore in another world.

The Fall of the House of Usher

Category:     Gothic     

Author:     Edgar Allan Poe

Summary:  The narrator of the story tells of an autumn visit to the House of Usher, the family home of his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher. Roderick and his sister Madeline have been living relatively isolated in the house and have grown unnaturally close as she weakens with a terminal illness. After her death, Roderick becomes increasingly the victim of his fear and horror at his sister’s death. As a storm roars around the house, he convinces himself that Madeline was buried alive and that she has forced her way out of the tomb and is coming to confront him.

The Pit and the Pendulum

Category:     Gothic     

Author:     Edgar Allan Poe

Summary:  The first-person narrator informs the reader that he is trying to recall and write down everything that happened to him. He describes the Spanish Inquisition’s sentencing him to death. Soon he discovers that each form of torture and execution is removed only to be replaced with another.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Black Cat

Category:     Gothic

Author:     Edgar Allan Poe

Summary:  The narrator gives details of his early love for animals and marriage to a woman of the same sentiments, who presents him with many pets. Among these is his favorite, a black cat, whose name, Pluto (Greek god of the underworld), foreshadows the narrator’s descent into the murky regions of alcoholism, self-deception, and violence.

The Purloined Letter

Category:     Gothic

Author:     Edgar Allan Poe

Summary:  THE PURLOINED LETTER presents a petty thievery and deception as the crime. The tale’s mock heroic tone is suggested even by the title’s description of the missing letter not as “stolen” but as “purloined.”  The Prefect of the Parisian police, actually knows the identity of the thief, but the letter itself must be found in order to protect the honor of a lady being blackmailed. Despite an exhaustive search of the culprit’s apartment over a three-month period, the Prefect has not found the document and appeals to Dupin for assistance in the matter.

Interview With a Vampire


Category: Gothic

Author: Anne Rice

Summary: Having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris.

The Ox Bow Incident


Category: Western

Author: Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Summary: Set in 1885, The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West. It focuses on the lynching of three innocent men and the tragedy that ensues when law and order are abandoned. The result is an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature.

Outcasts of Poker Flats


Category: Western

Author: Brett Harte

Summary: One of the best examples of Harte's local-color fiction, this story about exiles from an 1850 California mining camp who are caught in a blizzard shows how even the "immoral" members of society are capable of acting unselfishly to help others who are in danger. Upon waking from their overnight camp in the mountains, four exiles from Poker Flat and a young couple traveling to the town face a snowstorm with limited provisions.

Smoke From This Altar


Category: Western

Author: Louis L’Amour

Summary: The poems in this book are inspired by L’Amour’s experiences and memories of his journeys across oceans and continents. It is vintage L'Amour storytelling—in verse—about nature, the land, and the people who loved and braved it.

Conagher


Category: Western

Author: Louis L’Amour

Summary: In this classic L’Amour adventure, a dark-eyed drifter wages a war against a murderous band of rustlers. As far as the eye could see was a vast, lonely horizon. And Evie Teale and her two children were all alone here now, alone in an untamed country where the elements, the Indians, and the thieves made it far easier to die than to live. But soon a man named Conagher would drift into her life — and together they would have the courage to make a stand.

Crossfire Trail


Category: Western

Author: Louis L’Amour

Summary: Rafe Caradec was a man who always rode at the ready, hardened by a life spent among ruthless men who played for the highest stakes. The only thing Rafe held sacred was his word--and now he had sworn to a dying man that he would save his Long Valley ranch for his wife and daughter, Ann. But Ann thought Rafe was moving in for his own crooked gain, and played right into the deadly hands of the greedy ranchers plotting to destroy her. Then Rafe figured a way to save Ann and the land. It would be dangerous--but that was the only way Rafe Caradec knew.

All the Pretty Horses


Category: Western

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Summary: John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old dispossessed Texan, crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico in 1949, accompanied by his pal Lacey Rawlins. The two precocious horsemen pick up a sidekick--a laughable but deadly marksman named Jimmy Blevins--encounter various adventures on their way south and finally arrive at a paradisiacal hacienda where Cole falls into an ill-fated romance.

The Crossing


Category: Western

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Summary: This volume opens with a teenager's decision to slip away from his family's ranch into Mexico. In this case, the boy is Billy Parham, and the catalyst for his trip is a wolf he and his father have trapped, but that Billy finds himself unwilling to shoot. His plan is to set the animal loose down south instead. Billy's trek inevitably becomes more ominous than sweet. Billy eventually returns to his ranch. Then, finding himself and his world changed, he returns to Mexico with his younger brother.

Lonesome Dove


Category: Western

Author: Larry McMurty

Summary: Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana -- and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream -- the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life. Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Hunt For Red October


Category: War

Author: Tom Clancy

Summary: Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision: the Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on....

The Sum of All Fears


Category: War

Author: Tom Clancy

Summary: In The Sum of All Fears, the center of conflict is the perpetual hot spot the Mideast, where a nuclear weapon falls into the hands of terrorists just as peace seems possible. Clancy realistically paints an almost unthinkable scenario--the bomb is planted on American soil in the midst of an escalation in tension with the Soviet Union; the terrorists hope to rekindle cold war animosity and prevent reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Last of the Mohicans


Category: War

Author: James Fenimore Cooper

Summary: The Last of the Mohicans is one of the great historical romances to come out of America. Set in 1757 amidst the French and Indian War, the novel tells the story of frontier scout Hawkeye and his efforts to conduct two daughters of a fort commander to safety.

The Red Badge of Courage


Category: War

Author: Stephen Crane

Summary: Henry Fleming had no idea how horrible war really was. Attacks come from all sides, bullets fly, bombs crash. Men everywhere are wounded, bleeding, and dying. Now, Henry's fighting for his life and he's scared. He must make a decision, perhaps the most difficult decision he will ever make in his life: save himself-run from the enemy and desert his friends-or fight, be brave, and risk his life. If he stays to fight, he may die with his regiment. If he runs, he'll have to live with knowing he was a coward. Can Henry find the strength within himself to earn his red badge of courage?

Catch-22


Category: War

Author: Joseph Heller

Summary: At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn't even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

A Farewell to Arms


Category: War

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Summary: This is the story of Lieutenant Henry, an American, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. The two meet in Italy during World War I, and almost immediately Hemingway sets up the central tension of the novel: the tenuous nature of love in a time of war. During their first encounter, Catherine tells Henry about her fiancé of eight years who had been killed the year before in the Somme. Explaining why she hadn't married him, she says she was afraid marriage would be bad for him.
The two begin an affair, with Henry quite convinced that he "did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards." Soon enough, however, the game turns serious for both of them and ultimately Henry ends up deserting to be with Catherine.

For Whom the Bell Tolls


Category: War

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Summary: For Whom the Bell Tolls begins and ends in a pine-scented forest, somewhere in Spain. The year is 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is in full swing. Robert Jordan, a demolitions expert attached to the International Brigades, lies on the forest floor. The setting is at sharp odds with the reason Jordan is there: he has come to blow up a bridge on behalf of the antifascist guerrilla forces. He hopes he'll be able to rely on their local leader, Pablo, to help carry out the mission, but upon meeting him, Jordan has his doubts. For Pablo, it seems, has had enough of the war. He has amassed for himself a small herd of horses and wants only to stay quietly in the hills and attract as little attention as possible. Jordan's arrival--and his mission--has seriously alarmed him.

Hiroshima


Category: War

Author: John Hersey

Summary: When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, few could have anticipated its potential for devastation. Pulitzer prize-winning author John Hersey recorded the stories of Hiroshima residents shortly after the explosion and, in 1946, Hiroshima was published, giving the world first-hand accounts from people who had survived it. The words of Miss Sasaki, Dr. Fujii, Mrs. Nakamara, Father Kleinsorg, Dr. Sasaki, and the Reverend Tanimoto gave a face to the statistics that saturated the media and solicited an overwhelming public response. Whether you believe the bomb made the difference in the war or that it should never have been dropped, Hiroshima is a must read for all of us who live in the shadow of armed conflict.

The Naked and the Dead


Category: War

Author: Norman Mailer

Summary: The story concerns a platoon of 13 American soldiers who are stationed on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei in the Pacific. With almost journalistic detail, Mailer records the lives of men at war, characterizing the soldiers individually in flashbacks that illuminate their past.

Why Are We In Vietnam? A Novel


Category: War

Author: Norman Mailer

Summary: Narrated by Ranald ("D.J.") Jethroe, Texas's most precocious teenager, on the eve of his departure to fight in Vietnam, this story of a hunting trip in Alaska is both brilliantly entertaining and profoundly thoughtful.

The Things They Carried


Category: War

Author: Tim O’Brien

Summary: The narrator of most of these stories in this book is "Tim"; yet O'Brien freely admits that many of the events he chronicles in this collection never really happened But just because a thing never happened doesn't make it any less true. In "On the Rainy River," the character Tim O'Brien responds to his draft notice by driving north, to the Canadian border where he spends six days in a deserted lodge in the company of an old man named Elroy while he wrestles with the choice between dodging the draft or going to war. The real Tim O'Brien never drove north. The real Tim O'Brien quietly boarded the bus to Sioux Falls and was inducted into the United States Army. But the truth of "On the Rainy River" lies not in facts but in the genuineness of the experience it depicts: both Tim’s went to a war they didn't believe in; both considered themselves cowards for doing so. Every story in The Things They Carried speaks another truth that Tim O'Brien learned in Vietnam; it is this blurred line between truth and reality, fact and fiction, that makes his book unforgettable.

in the Lake of the Woods


Category: War

Author: Tim O’Brien

Summary: In the Lake of the Woods is a novel that, while imbued with the troubled spirit of Vietnam, takes place entirely after the war and in the United States. The main character, John Wade, is a man in crisis: after spending years building a successful political career, he finds his future derailed during a bid for the U.S. Senate by revelations about his past as a soldier in Vietnam. The election lost by a landslide, John and his wife, Kathy, retreat to a small cabin on the shores of a Minnesota lake--from which Kathy mysteriously disappears. If Kathy's disappearance is at the heart of this work, then John's involvement in a My Lai-type massacre in Vietnam is its core, and O'Brien uses it to demonstrate how wars don't necessarily end when governments say they do.

If I Die in a Combat Zone; Box Me Up and Ship Me Home


Category: War

Author: Tim O’Brien

Summary: O'Brien paints an unvarnished portrait of the infantry soldier's life that is at once mundane and terrifying--the endless days of patrolling punctuated by firefights that end as suddenly and inconclusively as they begin; the mind-numbing brutality of burned villages and trampled rice patties; the terror of tunnels, minefields, and the ever-present threat of death. Powerful as these scenes are, perhaps the most memorable chapter in the book concerns his decision to desert just a few weeks before he was sent to Vietnam but finds that he can’t do it. He went into the war opposing it and came out knowing exactly why. If I Die in a Combat Zone is more than just a memoir of a disastrous war; it is also a meditation on heroism and cowardice, on the mutability of truth and morality in a war zone and, most of all, on the simple, human capacity to endure the unendurable.

Going After Cacciato


Category: War

Author: Tim O’Brien

Summary: A private deserts his post in Vietnam, intent on walking 8,000 miles to Paris for the peace talks. The remaining members of his squad are sent after him, but what happens then is anybody's guess. Told from the perspective of squad member Paul Berlin, the search for Cacciato soon enters the realm of the surreal as the men find themselves following an elusive trail of chocolate M&M's through the jungles of Indochina, across India, Iran, Greece, and Yugoslavia to the streets of Paris. The details of this hallucinatory journey alternate with feverish memories of the war--men maimed by landmines, killed in tunnels, engaged in casual acts of brutality that would be unthinkable anywhere else.

All Quiet On the Western Front


Category: War

Author: Eric Marie Remarque

Summary: Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.

Battle Cry


Category: War

Author: Leon Uris

Summary: They came from America's cities and farms and reservations -- boys who became men under the withering fire of a bold and terrible enemy. In Pacific killing zones called Tarawa and Guadalcanal, they stared into the savage face of war and did not flinch. In their country's most desperate hour -- in the blood, anguish, and terror of combat -- they would grow to be comrades, soldiers, heroes, Marines. This is their story.

Slaugherhouse Five


Category: War

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: Billy Pilgrim is a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Caine Mutiny


Category: War

Author: Herman Wouk

Summary: One of the first serious works of fiction to help readers grapple with the human consequences of World War II.

War and Remembrance


Category: War

Author: Herman Wouk

Summary: This novel capture the tide of world events even as they unfold the compelling tale of a single North American family drawn into the very center of the wars maelstrom.

The Winds of War


Category: War

Author: Herman Wouk

Summary: Follows the various members of the Henry family as they become involved in the events preceding America's involvement in World War II and captures all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of the Second World War-

Breakfast at Tiffany's


Category: Feminism

Author: Truman Capote

Summary: Truman Capote created a woman whose name entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany's; her poignancy, wit, and naiveté charm.