For many veterans, nostalgia can be a mixed blessing. While they might have memories about the lifetime bonds that were made during their time in service, there is also no shortage of things they’d rather forget. It is, however, important to recognize every veteran and every story they decide to share, as well as explore the genre with works of fiction. There are certain books that have remained on bestseller lists for a reason. 

The Vietnam War was a polarizing moment in American history, as well as the rest of the world. The book We Were Soldiers Once… and Young focuses on the battle of Ia Drang and how it changed everything. As the first major battle between American soldiers and the North Vietnamese Army, both sides claimed victory but it was a brutal massacre nonetheless. 450 soldiers were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley and immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Days later, a different battalion was chopped to pieces. Ia Drang one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War and it changed many soldiers’ lives forever.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging seeks to understand the psychology behind why it is sometimes so difficult for returning soldiers to reacclimatize to civilian life. Human beings, especially westerners, are a collective species. We seek to belong to a community. It’s a primitive, tribal mentality that still exists today. There will always be an eternal quest for meaning, even at the cost of lives. Life among soldiers in a platoon is sacred and close and this bond is further enhanced by jointly experiencing the horrors of war. Upon returning to a normal life, it can be exceedingly lonely to no longer have that level of camaraderie. Psychologists have been working for years on ways to treat PTSD and to help all returning service members. 

The period of time between the atrocities at Pearl Harbor and the battle of Iwo Jima is laid out beautifully and heartbreakingly in Unknown Valor. Iwo Jima was one of the most brutal battles of World War II, with a body count of almost 7,000 Marines and over 20,000 wounded. The catalyst for this bloody scene was the vicious sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, and this book takes the reader on a multi-year journey through the retelling of actual family letters.