Sunday, February 8, 2009

What's done is done. Books.

As the second month of the new year rolls in, it's past time to change the favorite books section on my profile page. I actually look at the profiles of bloggers I read to try to discern things about them because, after all, I actually know very little about most of the bloggers "I know."

Books are important to me. Recently I started reading again after a desultory period where I wasn't reading much. I finished a 700 page book on the Korean War. (Does that sound like fun reading or what?)

It inspired me to begin an eleven hundred page book on the Korean War. It's exciting! The green U.S. forces have just gotten the bejeezuz kicked out of them by the North Korean army but the day of reckoning is coming for the overconfident Commies. But what is the saying about pride? Watch out, Mac!

I'm thinkin' that the U.S. doesn't "win" the war in this book either.

I always list a Shakespeare book in my profile as a favorite, and change it every year. Two years ago it was Othello, because it is my favorite Tragedy. I love the Moor's profound words about peace:

Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them.
Good signior, you shall more command with years
Than with you weapons. I:ii

If only W had the wisdom to know that the threat of shock & awe is so much more efficacious than actually delivering it, because when delivered its future effect is dulled it through its use (attrition) and, having withstood its onslaught, the recipients realize that they survived it after all and they start looking for weaknesses in the deliverers. (As in the dolts in charge. "Bring 'em on!")

Last year I listed King Lear, my second favorite Tragedy. Anyone who knows my personal situation (3 estranged sons for whom I paid every cent of support, am furnishing full college tuition and fees for, and who don't deign to speak to me or any of my relatives) will see the irony and truthiness in this quote:

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child. I:iv

(Hey, Danny, please meet me at Elevation Burger in Falls Church at noon on your birthday later this month and I'll buy you, and whoever you bring [your brothers maybe] a burger and a malt.) (Mmm. Elevation burgers.)

Macbeth is my choice for this year. "What's done is done." III:ii

Furthermore, I always list a war book. Man's history seems like a miserable liturgy of wars. Two years ago it was Hell In A Very Small Place, the Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard Fall, the best war book bar none. Last year it was Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden, the best small unit combat book bar none. This year it is Breakout The Chosin Reservoir Campaign Korea 1950 by Martin Russ.

Its jacket says the book is The riveting saga of one of the most heroic battles in American history. It is that indeed, and more. The book masterfully tells of the beleaguered First Marine Division's breakout from the clutches of practically the entire Chicom Army, as the divison travelled precariously over 90 miles of a solitary mountain roadway back to the safety of the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet's guns at the port of Hungnam (North Korea) in sub-zero temperature. The Marines mauled seven elite Chinese divisions in the process. Thank you Oliver Smith (a Marine general). Boo on you Ned Almond (an Army general).

The Marines, in this epic battle, with their successful fighting withdrawal (they brought their casualties, and their dead, out) provided the one shining moment for American arms in the Great Bugout from North Korea that Johnnie Walker's Eighth Army engaged in when the Chinese entered the Korean War, stunning the overconfident Americans and routing our forces. This disaster greatly dimmed General Douglas MacArthur's (Army--Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away) final legacy.


Kelly said...

I don't know much about Shakespear, but I had to read Romeo and Juliet in high school.

Also, I was in the play Hamlet. I enjoyed that one.

Kelly said...

Look at me... I didn't even spell Shakespeare correctly.

akshaye said...

Love your reading list. My reading also tends to be on all kinds of different things. Btw - my great granddad was part of the UN peace keeping mission after the Korean war. He also fought in Burma in WW II.

I just recently finished this book that I think you may enjoy. Its titled "The Great War for Civilization", and covers all the Middle East conflicts and the problems with the different approaches taken by western powers

John said...

A must read: A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

ShirleyPerly said...

I envy your ability to read books for enjoyment. My husband enjoys reading and can spend hours doing so (which is how he often passes the time on planes). I find it a chore and have rarely read a book that wasn't required or recommended reading. I am the worst Trivial Pursuit partner to have!