Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Operation Homecoming Book Tour

As I've said many times before, I'm a huge fan of Andrew Carroll, one of those wonderful people who does great things simply because he can. Author of several best-selling books, including Letters of a Nation and War Letters, Andy -- although he would never take the credit for it -- is almost personally responsible for the preservation of some 75,000 war letters from every conflict you can think of. And for that alone, we are all indebted to him. Think of all the history that would have been lost without his efforts!

Now he's on the road again with his latest book, one which he edited pro bono for the NEA. It's called Operation Homecoming and is an anthology of writings that range from the humorous to the gut-wrenching:
"The first book of its kind, Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, is the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to inspire U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families to write down and share their personal wartime experiences.

Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Mark Bowden, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Jeff Shaara, and Marilyn Nelson, who visited military bases throughout the U.S. as part of the larger Operation Homecoming initiative, American troops and their loved ones wrote openly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front.

Almost 100 uncensored and never-before-published eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, letters, e-mails, poems, and other personal writings are featured in the book, and they show an extremely intimate and human side of war . . ."
You can read more here.

Andy's tour started last week at the Library of Congress, but there's a peculiar reluctance by the mainstream media to cover the book -- I suspect because they fear their readers are war-weary.

Regardless of how you feel about the current conflicts, though, this is a must-read in my view. It's compelling. It helps you understand the experiences not only of the soldiers and civilians involved, but of the families back at home. For the first time, we hear the voices of women in combat. And all perspectives are included. The NEA, to its credit, didn't censor. And finally, some of it is simply outstanding literature. Remember that old adage about not mincing words in a fox hole? It's true. This book is an important slice of the history of tomorrow.

Between now and December, Andy will be on a book tour, speaking in CA, CT, IL, DC, VA, WA, FL, TX, TN, NC, MA and NJ. You can find details here. If you live in any of these areas, please consider attending -- and spread the word. Andy is a captivating speaker himself, but he's joined by people whose letters, poems and emails are in the book, and that elevates an already eye-opening evening to a whole new level.


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