Representations of War Book Summaries:

Sunrise Over Fallujah: Walter Dean Myers
Robin Perry's parents really want him to go to college, but following the events of 9/11, he signs up for the Army instead. This takes him to Iraq, where, in 2003, he serves as part of the Civil Affairs Unit. It is his responsibility (and his unit's) to try to cut down on fighting with the Iraqis by gaining their trust. Certainly, this job is not an easy one, and it comes with its fair share of experiences worth writing home about, so Robin writes to his Uncle, a veteran from another war, in order to help him recover from and deal with all he has seen.

A Librarian's Book talk

How I Live Now: Meg Rosoff
This fictional story takes place in what Rosoff leads us to believe is the very near future. Daisy, from Manhattan, has travelled to London to stay with her cousins. She quickly befriends her cousin, Edmond, but their relationship is quickly changed when an unnamed attacker invades London and occupies it for years. The center of this story is emotion. Daisy gives us a very realistic story of a group of teenagers trying to survive on their own while their country is under attack.

Student-created trailer

Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills: Charles Henderson
There have been many Marines. There have been many marksmen. But there has only been one Sergeant Carlos Hathcock. A legend in the Marine ranks, Hathcock stalked the Viet Cong behind enemy lines-on their own ground. And each time he emerged from the jungle having done his duty. His record is one of the finest in military history, with 93 confirmed kills. This is the story of a simple man who endured incredible dangers and hardships for his country and his Corps. These are the missions that have made Carlos Hathcock a legend in the brotherhood of Marines. This book contains extremely violent and graphic descriptions.

S.: A Novel About The Balkans: Slavenka Drakulic
S. lies in a Hospital in Sweden, where she has just given birth to a baby boy. She refuses to nurse him. The woman lying next to her is shocked by her behavior, but she does not know the history of how this boy was conceived. As she lies in the hospital bed, S. remembers the summer of 1992, from the day when the soldiers rounded up the occupants of the Muslim village of B., shot the men and herded the shocked, obedient women onto buses. She remembers life in the camp, where she was assigned to help E., the nurse, tend the sick, and the horrible rumors about the "women's room," where women are taken for the Serbian soldiers to rape. Soon it is her turn for the "women's room"; surviving rape and dehumanization, she develops a protective need to forget. But she cannot forget the other women in the room, their struggles, their wounds, their deaths. All she has succeeded in obliterating is her previous life, in which she was a teacher, with parents and a sister who once lived in Sarajevo. They have vanished, and she would have disappeared, too, if she had stayed with them.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Jonathan Safran Foer
Watch the first minute of this video posted on Amazon:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Video
Book Talk:
Oskar Schell is not your average nine-year-old. A budding inventor, he spends his time imagining wonderful creations. He also collects random photographs for his scrapbook and sends letters to scientists. When his father dies in the World Trade Center collapse, Oskar shifts his boundless energy to a quest for answers. He finds a key hidden in his father's things that doesn't fit any lock in their New York City apartment; its container is labeled "Black." Oskar sets out to speak to everyone in New York City with the last name of Black. Foer takes a dark subject and works in offbeat humor with puns and wordplay. Foer also includes the subplot of Oskar's grandfather, who survived the World War II bombing of Dresden. The two stories finally intersect in a powerful conclusion that will make even the most jaded hearts fall.

Johnny Got His Gun: Dalton Trumbo
"Johnny Got His Gun" tells the story of Joe Bonham, an American soldier who is horrifically wounded and disabled in World War I. The book is told from Joe's perspective as he struggles to understand and cope with his situation. Injured, paralyzed, and without all but his sense of touch, Joe tries to figure out what happened to him and how to communicate with a world that doesn't see or understand his suffering. His mind wanders back and forth between his past, including his war experiences, and his immediate condition. Thus we get a non-chronological but full picture of his complete life so far. Joe's intense, but intriguing journey through his own mind to the ultimate political maturity is amazing.

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First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers: Luong Ung
Luong Ung is Chinese-Cambodian. In this memoir, she tells the story of her family and their battle against the Khmer Rouge, a totalitarian party which ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979. Ung was five years old when she and her family of eight were forced to leave their home in the capital of Cambodia, where her father was an employee of the government which is being destoryed, and walk into the countryside. Her family was forced to pose as peasants in order to avoid the senseless brutality dished out by the Khmer Rouge. It seems that the horrific happenings encountered and witnessed by Luong's family are unending in the middle of a genocide. If it's not already clear, there are some extremely moving parts of this book; readers can be guaranteed to feel torn apart inside and relieved on many different occasions.

All Quiet on the Western Front: Erich Remarque
World War I was a major turning point in warfare history. The technological advances of the time including poison gas, tanks, heavier artillery, and many other items provided an easier, faster way to destroy the enemy. The brutality of this left many men shell shocked or no longer capable of functioning in society. The Lost Generation was formed out of the disillusioned masses that managed to survive the war. The romantic notion of war was dead and the reality was too hard to deal with. This was definitely the case for Paul. A youthful idealist, Paul signs up to go to war with his buddies for the German Army. They soon lose their youthful innocence as they are constantly bombarded, day in and day out, with the senseless brutality and difficult nature of war. The ideals that they were fighting for quickly turn into pragmatism as food and supplies become short. We continue to follow Paul as we experience every agonizing aspect from his viewpoint; from living on survival instinct at the front, feeling out-of-place and unable to relate at home, not to mention his inability to interact on a simple level with a woman.

Private Peaceful: Michael Morpurgo
In this World War I story, the fifteen-year-old narrator, Thomas, lied about his age in order to follow his beloved older brother, Charlie, to fight in France. Now, nearly two years later, as Thomas sits waiting in the dark for the horror he knows will come at dawn, he remembers it all. Growing up as a poor farm boy in a happy family, he was always close to Charlie and to their brain-injured brother, Joe. Thomas and Charlie even loved the same girl; Charlie married her, but she writes to them both. Thomas also remembers British brutality, from the landlord who threatened the family with eviction if Charlie didn't enlist to the cruel army sergeant who tried to break Charlie's spirit. Suspense builds right to the end, which is shocking, honest, and unforgettable.

The Things They Carried: Tim O'Brien
This isn't a memoir. It isn't a novel. A collection of short stories wouldn't even be the way to describe this. It's a combination of all three. The main character is named Tim, but the author admits that many of the things in the book never happened to him. Tim wrestles with the choices of going to Vietnam and serving his country or running for Canada and saving his hide. This story dances with truth as it mirrors the real experiences of Tim O'Brien in 'Nam, but they're not quite what happened. This book contains graphic scenes and a lot of colorful language, but it is a classic, timeless view of one of the most controversial wars in our history as a country.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of A Boy Soldier: Ishmael Beah
This is a true story about growing up in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, during one of the most brutal and violent civil wars in recent history. Beah was a typical, michevious 12-year-old. But when rebel forces attacked his village, he was forced to leave his home and travel the arid deserts and jungles of Africa. After several months of struggle, he was recruited by the national army, made a full soldier and learned to shoot an AK-47, and hated everyone who came up against the rebels. This normal boy is easily transformed into someone as addicted to killing as he is to the cocaine that the army makes readily available. But an abrupt change occurred a few years later when agents from the United Nations pulled him out of the army and placed him in a rehabilitation center. Anger and hate slowly faded away, and readers see the first glimmers of Beah's work as an advocate. This powerful record of war ends as a beacon to all teens experiencing violence around them by showing them that there are other ways to survive than by adding to the chaos.

Slaughterhouse-Five: Kurt Vonnegut
Imagine that you're a prisoner of war. Your captors have placed you in an underground slaughterhouse. Above you, firebombs incinerate the entire city, killing thousands upon thousands of people. You're in Dresden with Kurt Vonnegut, or should I say Billy Pilgrim? The bombing of Dresden does not appear in the history books we have at West because it was we who did the bombing. The Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force burned 15 square miles of this city. How would you feel if you survived this? witnessed this? You'd probably be a little crazy. You'd probably be like Billy Pilgrim. This story is based on true events witnessed by the author, but it is told through the eyes of someone suffering from Post-Traumatic stress disorder whom appears to travel in time and hang out with Tralfamadorians (read aliens).

Fallen Angels: Walter Dean Myers
Fallen Angels is a tale of five soldiers coming from different parts of the States to serve their country in the Vietnam War. The book's main focus lays on a soldier by the name of Richie Perry, a young kid out of the poor streets of Harlem. Perry didn't have any intention to go to the army, he preferred college, but after not getting in he was left with no other choice. Sent to the front lines, Perry and his platoon come face-to-face with the Vietcong and the real horror of warfare. But violence and death aren't the only hardships. As Perry struggles to find virtue in himself and his comrades, he questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments, and why the U.S. is there at all.