Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Trouern-Trend’


Book lists, particularly those at the end of a year, always catch my attention. I usually read through and pick one or two titles to hand on to for future purchase; but I rarely keep the list as I have no mountain climbing ambition. This year I did something different; I copied out four lists before deciding four were more than enough.

They are “Jonathan Yardley’s favorite books,” and “The ten best books of 2014,” from The Washington Post. From The New York Times, they are “100 Notable Books of 2014,” and “Human Costs of the Forever Wars, Enough to Fill a Bookshelf,” the last list by Michiko Kakutani.

I know the article by Kakutani does not need my promotion; however, I want to comment on it anyway. It is a thoughtful look at how we are recording for our understanding and memory the wars of our own making in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars need our attention and wise response as much as does the battered environment; and we seem to be as lost in one confrontation as in the other.

I was surprised to find I have read only two titles Kakutani writes about: Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds, and Brian Turner’s My Life as a Foreign Country; both of which are sure to bring your emotions to the surface. These two books should be in every public library in America; and I am confident they are not the only books in his list that should be tagged as such.

I do not doubt there are other books fully deserving of being listed in the article. Our country should act this coming year to completely choke off the bloody creation of new authors. There are already too many at work and in the development stage. Enough is enough.

As I write this the day before my local Christmas Bird Count, I must mention the only birding book from the Forever Wars, Jonathan Trouern-Trend’s Birding Babylon: A Soldier’s Journal from Iraq. Just now I looked up from my desk to see outside a Pileated Woodpecker tearing a hole in a hemlock looking for a mid-afternoon meal. If we don’t kill or maim life, it seems to work well. Charles Marlin

Image by Zoriah Miller at zoriah.com

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The first light book from the Gulf Wars I found is Jonathan Trouern-Trend, Birding Babylon: A Soldier’s Journal from Iraq.  Birders need only the title to whet their appetite.  The second is a breezy, teary account of life in a M*A*S*H sequel Paradise General: Riding The Surge At A Combat Hospital In Iraq by Dr. Dave Hnida.  I liked both books.

Not every war book need be profound or soulful, and the good doctor proves it with his account of life among wonderful doctor buddies helping good guys save the lives of wounded heroes and serving some who die.  You can’t help but like him even if he may be a bit of a bore.

Without bitterness, the doctor describes his Combat Support Hospital, staffing, the base, the presence of contractors, the military strategies that work no better one week than another week months apart.  Perhaps it was a healthy way to cope with the combat stress.  As a reader it may be hard to find the same level of acceptance.  Charles Marlin

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