Today is Veterans Day, the federal holiday that honors the nation’s armed forces veterans. It’s appropriate to suggest a few relevant titles:
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House, $27, 496 pages): When Louis Zamperini’s Army Air Force B-24 was shot down into the Pacific in 1943, the young lieutenant and two other survivors shared a life raft for 47 days, only to become prisoners of the Japanese – a fate that meant almost certain death. However, his resilience and will to survive became an inspiration to other POWs. “Unbroken” the movie, opening Christmas Day, was directed by Angelina Jolie from the screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen. Hillenbrand is also the author of the bestselling “Seabiscuit.”
P.S.: Zamperini finished the inspirational first-person book “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In” before his death in July, recollecting his “hardships and triumphs to encourage others to keep trying and keep believing in themselves” (with David Rensin; Dey Street, $23, 272 pages, Nov. 18).
“Patton At the Battle of the Bulge” by Leo Barron (NAL, $28, 432 pages): The detailed account explains how Gen. George Patton and his Third Army repelled a potentially tide-turning German blitzkrieg at Bastogne, Belgium (the Siege of Bastogne) toward the end of World War II. Essentially, the Battle of the Bulge nearly destroyed the German army, helping speed the end of the war. Historians agree that Patton’s victory was among his most significant.
“Killing Patton” by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt, $30, 368 pages): Yes, the Fox News commentator’s book raises intriguing questions about Patton’s untimely death (his chauffeured car was hit by a military truck), which some say could well have been an assassination. Beyond that, the book is a gruesome scrutiny of the final year of World War II. O’Reilly is the author of several No. 1 bestselling books, including “Killing Jesus,” “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Lincoln.”
“What It Is Like To Go To War” by Karl Marlantes (Grove, $15, 272 pages): The Vietnam War veteran offers a frank account of his combat experiences, with analysis of the emotional toll of leaving for war and then returning home. Marlantes was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts and 10 air medals. “War” was the choice for the Sacramento Public Library’s 10th annual “One Book Sacramento” program in October.
“First SEALs” by Patrick K. O’Donnell (Da Capo, $26, 320 pages): The Navy’s Sea, Air and Land teams (SEAL) are rightfully legendary, but until now their origin has been obscured by time. In this behind-the-scenes history, readers learn how a World War II group known as the Maritime Unit became the template for today’s elite special force.
“The West Point History of the Civil War,” edited by Clifford J. Rogers (Simon & Schuster, $55, 448 pages): In informative text and vintage paintings, illustration and photographs, the U.S. Military Academy tells a clear and detailed narrative of the Civil War, complete with diagrams showing the strategies of famous battles.
One classic war-related must-read is “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, first published in 1990 (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95, 256 pages). The collection of semi-autobiographical short stories (a Pulitzer Prize finalist) takes readers into a platoon of soldiers and their harrowing tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
“Unbreakable Bonds” by Dava Guerin and Kevin Ferris (Skyhorse, $20, 224 pages): The authors became close to 10 mothers who gave up their everyday lives to become advocates for their wounded-warrior sons as the soldiers recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The mothers formed strong bonds for mutual inspiration and support; these are their stories.
“Reunion, La Réunion: Finding Gilbert” by Diane Covington-Carter (Marshall & McClintic, $15, 264 pages): During the 1944 D-Day invasion, the author’s father formed a protective bond with a French orphan boy named Gilbert and tried unsuccessfully to adopt him. As Covington-Carter, who is based in Nevada City, said by email, “On the 50th anniversary of D-Day, I traveled to France to try to find Gilbert, who could have been my brother. My (memoir) tells that story and underlines the power of a father’s love, both in my life and in Gilbert’s.”
Talks on WWI
Historian-writer James Scott will lead two World War I-related programs for the Sacramento Public Library at 828 I St. He will discuss the “many impacts of the war on the Sacramento Valley,” 1 p.m. Nov. 23. Then he will host a mini-lecture on and screening of the 1957 classic anti-war movie “Paths of Glory,” directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, at 6 p.m. Nov. 25. Information: (916) 264-2700.
For Rothfuss fans
Just as George R.R. Martin has legions of fans figuratively breaking down his door for the next entry in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of fantasy novels (“Game of Thrones” is one of them), so does Patrick Rothfuss endure similar pressure.
Book one of his “The Kingkiller Chronicle” fantasy trilogy – “The Name of the Wind” – appeared in 2007, followed by “The Wise Man’s Fear” in 2011, with “The Doors of Stone” a work in progress. In brief: Kvothe, a mysterious magician-warrior, is laying low, posing as an innkeeper in a small town on the outskirts of “a kingdom in turmoil.” The books are his retelling of his life.
Meanwhile, Rothfuss is offering a “companion novella” to temporarily sate fans’ hunger, “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” (DAW, $19, 176 pages). It explores the world of Auri, who lives in the abandoned town beneath the university the young Kvothe attends, a situation you understand if you’ve read the books. If not, add them to your list (www.patrickrothfuss.com).
Upcoming author appearances
Former Sacramento Bee entertainment editor Bruce Dancis puts the antiwar movement back in the spotlight in his memoir, “Resister” (Cornell University Press, $29.95, 384 pages). In meticulous fashion, he recalls the tumultuous student and anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and their lasting effects on our culture. He also shows how the music scene reflected the changing mores of the day.
Dancis’ activism as a draft resister and his role as organizer of the “first mass draft card burning during the Vietnam War” contributed to a 19-month sentence in federal prison. He will appear at 3 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Library Gallery on the Sacramento State campus, 6000 J St., as part of the university’s Friends of the Library’s Author Lecture Series. Information: (916) 278-5954.
▪ Meg Masterson is a journalism student at Sacramento City College whose inspirational story, “John,” appears in “Chicken Soup For the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength.” It’s the latest entry in the hugely successful glass-half-full series. “I wrote the story about my older brother, John Masterson, who has Down syndrome,” she said in an email. “He is 28 years old and currently works in the governor’s mail room as a constituent affairs assistant at the state Capitol.”
She will give a presentation and sign books at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Dewey Square Group, 1020 16th St., Sacramento; (916) 447-4099. Proceeds from book sales will be donated to Best Buddies International, dedicated to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
▪ Linda Joy Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, will give a presentation based on her book “Creative Nonfiction and Memoir: The Art and Craft of Writing and Publishing Your Work.” It’s part of an ongoing educational program for all aspiring writers, sponsored by the Sacramento branch of the California Writers Club. Meet her at 11 a.m. Saturday at Cattlemen’s restaurant, 12409 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova, (916) 524-7992; $16, lunch included.
▪ Linda Champion for “Fairy Tales for Life,” 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble, 6111 Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights; (916) 853-1511.
▪ Thatcher Robinson for “Black Karma,” the sequel to “White Ginger,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Avid Reader, 617 Second St., Davis; (530) 758-4040.
▪ Maggie Anton for “Enchantress,” 2 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Mosaic Law Congregation, 2300 Sierra Blvd, Sacramento, (916) 488-1122; and 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Congregation B’nai Israel, 3600 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento, (916) 446-4861. Anton is a winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, and a Talmud scholar with expertise in Jewish women’s history.
They’re top earners
Here’s inspiration for toiling writers: Forbes magazine has released its list of “educated speculations” of how much top-earning authors have made in a recent 12-month period.
James Patterson: $90 million
Dan Brown: $28 million
Nora Roberts: $23 million
Danielle Steel: $22 million
Janet Evanovich: $20 million
Jeff Kinney: $17 million
Veronica Roth: $17 million
John Grisham: $17 million
Stephen King: $17 million
Suzanne Collins: $16 million
J.K. Rowling: $14 million
George R.R. Martin: $12 million
David Baldacci: $11 million
Rick Riordan: $10 million
Gillian Flynn: $9 million
Editor’s note: This story was changed on Nov. 11 to correct the date for a reading by Linda Champion.
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.