War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. Novel. In War and Peace, Tolstoy alternated literary forms, using fiction to tell the story of the maturing of Pierre Bezukov, Andre Bolkonsky and Natasha Rostova during the Napoleonic campaigns in Russia, and essays in which he discusses the ironies and absurdity of war.
The Red Badge of Courage. Stephen Crane. Novel. A realistic, impressionistic description of confusion and fear and death in the Civil War, written by an author who had never seen a real battle, but so vivid that “you are there.”
The Naked and the Dead. Norman Mailer. Novel. About the complex inner workings of people who engage in war, their interactions with others, and the effects of authority on individuals who are under their command.
Tales of the South Pacific. James Michener. Series of short stories based on incidents experienced by the author when he served in the South Pacific during WWII. The theme is waiting, the endless waiting, to see action. The waiting occurred because the islands leading toward the Japanese mainland had to be staffed and prepared for the string of attacks on islands nearer the Japanese mainland. In fact, the planning, including the medical planning in anticipation of certain types of wounds, is absolutely amazing. It made me think that what won WWII was superior planning and organizing.
Catch-22. Heller. By pleading insanity, Yossarian hopes to find a way out until the doctor quotes the notorious Catch-22: A man would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t but if he was sane, -he had to fly them.