Now that we're in a semi-respite from the Republican cat fight, how about we turn our thoughts to other issues? I love great books on war (knowing, of course, that this is not politically correct, as I should be engaging in "Peace Studies"). It is a subject that has produced some of our greatest literature, both non-fiction and fiction.
To get things rolling, here are a few of my non-fiction favorites: E. B. Sledge, With the Old Breed (VDH says--and he's right--that this is the single best personal memoir of a soldier--in Sledge's case, one at Pelelieu and Okinawa); Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers (demonstrating that if you don't have good company commanders, you don't have a good army); Andrew Roberts' The Storm of War (the best new one volume history of World War II--Roberts was recently interviewed by Peter on "Uncommon Knowledge"), and James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and Tried by War (the first is the go-to single volume history of the war and the second is a brilliant examination of Lincoln as war president). Each is readable and each illuminates its subject, from the intimate to the strategic.
In fiction, Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate stands alone: a great war book, but also one of the greatest pieces of literature of the twentieth century. Less great, but nonetheless powerful, is The Black Flower, by Howard Bahr, a relatively obscure southern writer who has written three great civil war novels. Black Flower, which is set during and after the Battle of Franklin, will break your heart.
The question: What are your favorite books in which war is either the main subject or a central element? And why?