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The Early Word – Fiction: New Books for the Week of October 14, 2007

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In an essentially nonfiction work about the power and widened scope of literature, Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, Elizabeth D. Samet describes how, though she has been an English professor at West Point for ten years, she tries not to take her work home with her — but she has been known to ask her mother to meet her at 1800 instead of at 6:00 pm. At the same time, however, she knows how loose lingo sinks discipline and so she forbids the use of the exclamation “Hooah!” in her classroom.

Maybe it’s the first time she’s had to consider the importance of an affirmative expression of the warrior spirit. As a civilian professor who had arrived at West Point before September 11, 2001, Samet has spent ten years teaching Shakespeare and Emerson to future soldiers destined for uncertain prospects in Iraq. After all, West Point is a world away from graduate school at Yale, which didn’t adequately prepare Samet for teaching literature to young men and women who were training to fight a war.

Presenting an upfront and honest contemplation on the relationship between art and life in Soldier's Heart, Samet explores West Point’s transformation since 9/11 as she has seen it, and as perceived by her students. In addition, Samet also considers the role of women in the army, the tides of religious and political fervor in the United States, the uses of the call to patriotism, and, as she sees it, a pervasive and crippling cult of sacrifice.

FICTION AND LITERATURE:

The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson

The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Slam by Nick Hornby

Pandora's Daughter by Iris Johansen

Second Sight: A Paul Christopher Novel by Charles McCarry

Bloodfever (Fever Series #2) by Karen Marie Moning

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

Gulf Music: Poems by Robert Pinsky

Star Wars: Death Star by Michael Reeves and Steve Perry

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point by Elizabeth D. Samet

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold False Witness: A Sister Agatha Mystery by Aimee Thurlo and David Thurlo

Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Another recommendation of Samet’s work proves to me that I should definitely make the purchase. :)

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