Combat Engineer: The Life and Leadership of Colonel H. Wallis Anderson

The book, Combat Engineer, is author John Racoosin’s tribute to his grandfather, Harry Wallis Anderson. He was a railroad engineer and Army reservist born in 1890, who served with the Army Corps of Engineers in Mexico and during both World Wars. The book briefly covers Anderson’s early years but focuses most on his service during WWII.  

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The Writing and Learning Transitions of Student-Veterans

Written by a college professor to his peers, Mark Blaauw-Hara uncovers the harsh realities of the veteran-to-student transition. He offers an overdue and intimate look into the mindset of service members, presenting practical and easy solutions to a problem often ignored. Blaauw-Hara identifies the overwhelming feelings veterans may commonly face when immersed in a collegiate environment.

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The Odyssey

The Greek poet Homer was one of the first to illuminate these overlooked aspects of post-war reintegration in his epic poem, The Odyssey. Homer explores this theme through the attempts of his hero, Odysseus, to return to his kingdom on the island of Ithaca after the Trojan War. The Odyssey contains ancient wisdom of enduring value that is once again relevant for a country that has deployed and redeployed hundreds of thousands of service members during twenty years of expeditionary conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. The battles for Fallujah and the Pech Valley may have ended, but many soldiers are still fighting. 

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The Iliad

When the Greek poet Homer penned The Iliad nearly three thousand years ago, he explored trauma and resiliency through the lens of his civilization at war. Set in the tempest of combat, The Iliad’s deeper story about the human condition is found in the contrast between two opposing generals, Achilles and Hector. Surrounded by death and violence, Homer’s two heroes engage the world with strikingly different approaches. Through their contrasting values and motivations, Homer makes strong assertions about the sources of psychological resilience.  

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A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy

James R. Holmes opens his book, A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy, writing, “This book is a tutorial for my younger self”. This notes the prior existence of a strategic gap in the naval education of his youth. Like most young naval professionals, training was in the technical and tactical aspects of his trade, but not in its strategic purpose. In this slim volume, Holmes explains a logical, readable, and useful primer on a maritime strategy that will close this gap for any newcomer to the field.

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Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital

Dr Heidi Squier Kraft is the author of Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital. This book shows an honest view of an operating environment in the initial stage of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM with the marines and sailors who served alongside her and the patients she helped triage and treat. Dr. Kraft transfers from a Navy Medical Center practicing medicine in a calm and controlled environment to a chaotic combat atmosphere. Staying flexible, engaged, and always mission ready is key. This is applicable not only to military members, but to anyone who desires to be ready for any and everything. 

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We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

There is an age-old truism in office etiquette. Don’t talk about politics, religion, race, or any polarizing issues. Times are changing and the progressive nature of the millennial generation challenges these rules. We Can’t Talk About That at Work by Mary-Frances Winters is the guide for successful conversations in the office about these exact topics. Before diving right into bold and inclusive dialogue, be sure to follow Winter’s steps and prep the office for uncomfortable interactions. 

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A Gathering of Men

Based on actual events, A Gathering of Men is a moving story of three childhood friends from small-town Candor, North Carolina. Their desire to become pilots eventually leads them to the US Army Air Force 100th Bomb Group stationed at Thorpe Abbotts, England, in 1944. The unit flies dangerous bombing missions over Europe, often facing staggering losses from enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns. 

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The Presidents Speak

Those leading in the era of social media need no convincing of the importance of words, but often true meaning can get lost in the noise. When we forget the impact of what we say can have, it is often best to return to those who said it best. One book that has continuously aimed to collect the words of some of the United States’ most influential figures is, The Presidents Speak. Its newest edition, released in 2018, composes speeches made by each of the first forty-five U.S. Presidents.

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Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

On the cusp of resiliency sits its darker counterbalance, mental health. It afflicts service members across a multitude of diagnostics, with one of the most common being Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is where Sebastian Junger delves into a radically different approach with his book, Tribe, by assessing the fellowship and purpose of individuals within a deploying unit experience. Comparatively, there is a recorded loneliness and depression those same individuals feel when returning home, particularly when seeking to reintegrate into society. In exploring human psychology, Junger presents a phenomenon of unity and intent when people collectively engage in a cause.

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 The Ever-Shrinking Fighting Force

The Ever-Shrinking Fighting Force by Major General Arnold L. Punaro, is a comprehensive and informative primer on the structure, function, and process of the US Government’s provision for the common defense. This book is a well-researched and extensive discussion of the ways and means by which the relevant entities of government interact to design, develop, procure, authorize, and appropriate, resulting in America’s modern military. Major General Punaro’s effort provides a holistic overview of the relationships between the key decision-making bodies in Congress, the centers of power within the Department of Defense (DOD), as well as the key players across the US defense industry.

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Mars Learning: The Marine Corp’s Development of Small Wars Doctrine, 1915-1940

Keith B. Bickel challenges a host of military and strategic theories that treat particular bureaucratic structures, large organizations, and elites as the progenitors of doctrine. This timely study of how the military draws lessons from interventions focuses on the overlooked role that mid-level combat officers play in creating military doctrine. Mars Learning closely evaluates Marine civil and military pacification operations in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, and illuminates the debates surrounding the development of Marine Corps’ small wars doctrine between 1915 and 1940.

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Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal

James D. Hornfischer’s Neptune’s Inferno cuts through such over-simplifications while also conveying the very personal and visceral stories of the naval personnel who fought at Guadalcanal. Critically, he examines the essential role the US Navy played in this campaign, specifically highlighting the decisiveness of the amphibious task force.

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What It Is Like to Go to War

In 1968, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of forty Marines who would live or die by his decisions. In his thirteen-month tour he saw intense combat, killing the enemy and watching friends die. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his experiences.

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