Literature

On the fascinating site Letters of Note:

In December of 1944, whilst behind enemy lines during the Rhineland Campaign, Private Kurt Vonnegut was captured by Wehrmacht troops and subsequently became a prisoner of war. A month later, Vonnegut and his fellow POWs reached a Dresden work camp where they were imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse known by German soldiers as Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five). The next month — February — the subterranean nature of the prison saved their lives during the highly controversial and devastating bombing of Dresden, the aftermath of which Vonnegut and the remaining survivors helped to clear up.

Vonnegut released the book Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969.

Below is a letter he wrote to his family that May from a repatriation camp, in which he informs them of his capture and survival:

VonnegutSlaughterhouseFive



There are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 513 in 2008. But…



Peter Spiegel and Jonathan Weisman report in the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON — The struggle to set the future course of the Afghan war is becoming a battle of two books — both suddenly popular among White House and Pentagon brain trusts.

The two draw decidedly different lessons from the Vietnam War. The first book describes a White House in 1965 being marched into an escalating war by a military viewing the conflict too narrowly to see the perils ahead. President Barack Obama recently finished the book, according to administration officials, and Vice President Joe Biden is reading it now.

The second describes a different administration, in 1972, when a U.S. military that has finally figured out how to counter the insurgency is rejected by political leaders who bow to popular opinion and end the fight.

It has been recommended in multiple lists put out by military officers, including a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who passed it out to his subordinates.

The two books — “Lessons in Disaster” on Mr. Obama’s nightstand, and “A Better War” on the shelves of military gurus — have become a framework for the debate over what will be one of the most important decisions of Mr. Obama’s presidency…



For all you Jim Marrs fans out there, our friends at BookGlutton are offering the first three chapters of his new novel The Sisterhood of the Rose, due out in hardcover November, for free on their site. What’s cool about it is that their technology allows readers to comment and chat with each other about the book. It’s akin to being a part of a reading group or book club, except it’s virtual. Check it out: