More featuring soldiers

“Literary critic Ervin’s debut mines very different ways of achieving personal and artistic freedom in three neatly polished, interlocking tales.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
Set in Budapest—a city marked by its rich cultural heritage, the scars of empire, the fresher wounds of industry, and the collateral damage of globalism—Extraordinary Renditions is the sweeping story of three equally tarnished expatriates.
 
World-renowned composer and Holocaust survivor Lajos Harkályi has returned to Hungary to debut his final opera and share his mother's parting gift, the melody from a lullaby she sang as he was forced to leave his Hungarian home for the infamous Czech concentration camp Terezín. Private First Class Jonathan “Brutus” Gibson is being blackmailed by his commanding officer at the US Army base in Hungary, one of the infamous black-sites of the global War on Terror, and he must decide between going AWOL or risking his life to make an illegal firearms deal in Budapest. Aspiring musician Melanie Scholes is preparing for the most important performance of her career as a violinist in Harkályi’s opera, but before she takes the stage she must extricate herself from a failing relationship and the inertia that threatens to consume her future. As their lives converge on Independence Day, they too will seek liberation—from the anguish of the Holocaust, the chains of blackmail, and the bonds of conformity.
 
A formidable new voice in American fiction, Ervin tackles the big themes of war, prejudice, and art, lyrically examining the reverberations of unrest in today’s central Europe, the United States’ legacy abroad, and the resilience of the human spirit.
 
“The variety of viewpoints and the author’s evident intimacy with an ancient foreign capital [Budapest] are promising, and Ervin makes it plain that he is taking on weighty themes.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“A thought-provoking exploration of tyranny, freedom, and the power of music.” —Booklist
 
“Ervin keeps his emotionally and politically fraught setting animated, thanks largely to his skill at inhabiting each of his characters. . . . [Extraordinary Rendition’s] ending makes a poignant case for the power of art in an age of war.” ―Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“Darkly evocative . . . The book has a prismlike quality; each story makes us see the city from a different but overlapping perspective.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
If you've never even been to Southeast Asia, can you be a Vietnam veteran? In a novel that captures the life and times of a generation, Mark Busby takes us on a journey through an era of hippies, the shootings at Kent State University, integration, and Woodstock. Fort Benning Blues tells the story of Vietnam from this side of the ocean.

Drafted in 1969, Jeff Adams faces a war he doesn't understand. While trying to delay the inevitable tour of duty in Vietnam, Adams attends Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, desperately hoping Nixon will achieve “peace with honor” before he graduates. The Army's job is to weed out the “duds,” “turkeys,” and “dummies” in an effort to keep not only the officers but also the men under their command alive in the rice paddies of Vietnam. It doesn't take long for the stress to create casualties.

Lieutenant Rancek, Adams' training officer at OCS, is ready to cut candidates from the program for any perceived weakness. He does this, not for the Army, but because he wants only the best “. . . leading the platoon on my right” when he goes to Vietnam.

Hugh Budwell, one of Adams' roommates, brings the laid-back spirit of California with him to Fort Benning. Tired of practicing estate law, he joins the Army to relieve the boredom he feels pervades his life. About Officer Candidate School, Budwell states, “If I wanted to go through it without any trouble, I'd be wondering about myself.”

Candidate Patrick “Sheriff” Garrett, a black southerner, spends a night with Adams in the low-crawl pit after they both raise Rancek's ire. Expecting racism when he joined the Army, Garrett copes better than most with the rigors of Officer Candidate School.

Busby uses song lyrics, newspaper headlines, and the jargon of the era to bring the sixties and seventies alive again. Henry Kissinger is described as “Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove” and Lieutenant William “Rusty” Calley as “Howdy Doody in uniform.” Of My Lai, Busby says, “At Fort Benning everybody took those actions as a matter of course.”

As America continues to try to comprehend the effects of one of the most transforming eras in our history, Fort Benning Blues adds another perspective to the meaning of being a Vietnam veteran.
Acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte has earned a distinguished reputation as a master of the literary thriller with his international bestsellers The Club Dumas and The Queen of the South. Now, in this haunting new work, Pérez-Reverte has written his most accomplished novel to date. The Painter of Battles is a captivating tale of love, war, art, and revenge.

Andrés Faulques, a world-renowned war photographer, has retired to a life of solitude on the Spanish coast. On the walls of a tower overlooking the sea, he spends his days painting a huge mural that pays homage to history’s classic works of war art and that incorporates a lifetime of disturbing images.
One night, an unexpected visitor arrives at Faulques’ door and challenges the painter to remember him. As Faulques struggles to recall the face, the man explains that he was the subject of an iconic photo taken by Faulques in a war zone years ago. “And why have you come looking for me?” asks Faulques. The stranger answers, “Because I’m going to kill you.”

This story transports Faulques to the time when he crossed continents to capture conflicts on film with his lover, Olvido, at his side. Until she walked into his life, Faulques muses, he had believed he would survive both war and women.

As the tense dialogue between Faulques and his visitor continues, the stakes grow ever higher. What they are grappling with quickly proves to be not just Faulques’ fate but the very nature of human love and cruelty itself.

Arturo Pérez-Reverte perfectly balances the shadows of the heart with the chaos of war in this stunning composition on morality. Superb and tautly written, The Painter of Battles is a deeply affecting novel about life and art.
An “immaculately written, trenchantly honest, hugely compelling” novel from the Giller Prize-winning author of Stranger (Globe and Mail).
 
When Morris Schutt, a prominent newspaper columnist, surveys his life over the past year, he sees disaster everywhere. His son has just been killed in Afghanistan, and his newspaper has put him on indefinite leave; his psychiatrist wife, Lucille, seems headed for the door; he is strongly attracted to Ursula, the wife of a dairy farmer from Minnesota; and his daughter appears to be having an affair with one of her professors.
 
What is a thinking man to do but turn to Cicero and Plato and Socrates in search of the truth? Or better still, to call one of those discreet “dating services” in search of happiness? But happiness, as Morris discovers, is not that easy to find.
 
David Bergen’s most accomplished novel, The Matter with Morris, is an unforgettable story with a vitality, charm, and intelligence all its own. Bergen proves once again that he is a rare and exceptional writer, dazzling us with his wit and touching us with his compassion.
 
“The Matter With Morris is more interested in showing that simply getting on with life is one of the best ways to counter grief, a premise it supports with quiet effectiveness.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“A beautiful, smart, deeply moving book.” —Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness
 
“Bergen writes earnestly about dignity and duty, particularly as they apply to fatherhood and women.” —Booklist
Anatomy of a Soldier is a stunning first novel—of patriotism, heroism, and profound humanism—that will immediately take its place on the shelf of classics about what it truly means to be at war.

Let’s imagine a man called Captain Tom Barnes, aka BA5799, who’s leading British troops in the war zone. And two boys growing up together there, sharing a prized bicycle and flying kites before finding themselves estranged once foreign soldiers appear in their countryside. And then there’s the man who trains one of them to fight against the other’s father and all these infidel invaders. Then imagine the family and friends who radiate out from these lives, people on all sides of this conflict where virtually everyone is caught up in the middle of something unthinkable.

But then regard them not as they see themselves but as all the objects surrounding them do: shoes and boots, a helmet, a bag of fertilizer, a medal, a beer glass, a snowflake, dog tags, and a horrific improvised explosive device that binds them all together by blowing one of them apart—forty-five different narrators in all, including the multiple medical implements subsequently required to keep Captain Barnes alive.

The result is a novel that reveals not only an author with a striking literary talent and intelligence but also the lives of people—whether husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter—who are part of this same heart-stopping journey. A work of extraordinary humanity and hope, created out of something hopeless and dehumanizing, it makes art out of pain and suffering and takes its place in a long and rich line of novels that articulate the lives that soldiers lead. In the boom of an instant, and in decades of very different lives and experiences, we see things we’ve never understood so clearly before.
From the acclaimed author of Corelli’s Mandolin, here is a sumptuous, sweeping, powerfully moving new novel about a British family whose lives and loves are indelibly shaped by the horrors of World War I and the hopes for its aftermath.
 
In the brief golden years of the Edwardian era the McCosh sisters—Christabel, Ottilie, Rosie and Sophie—grow up in an idyllic household in the countryside south of London. On one side, their neighbors are the proper Pendennis family, recently arrived from Baltimore, whose close-in-age boys—Sidney, Albert and Ashbridge—shake their father’s hand at breakfast and address him as “sir.” On the other side is the Pitt family: a “resolutely French” mother, a former navy captain father, and two brothers, Archie and Daniel, who are clearly “going to grow up into a pair of daredevils and adventurers.” In childhood this band is inseparable, but the days of careless camaraderie are brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of The Great War, in which everyone will play a part.
 
All three Pendennis brothers fight in the hellish trenches at the front; Daniel Pitt becomes an ace fighter pilot with his daredevil tendencies intact; Rosie and Ottilie McCosh volunteer in the hospitals, where women serve with as much passion and nearly as much hardship as the men at the front; Christabel McCosh becomes one of the squad of photographers sending “snaps” of their loved ones at home to the soldiers; and Sophie McCosh drives for the RAF in France. In the aftermath of the war, as “the universal joy and relief were beginning to be tempered by . . . an atmosphere of uncertainty,” everyone must contend with the modern world that is slowly emerging from the ashes of the old.
 
A wholly immersive novel about a particular time and place, The Dust That Falls from Dreams also illuminates the timeless ways in which men and women carry profound loss alongside indelible hope.
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