What really makes studies of war so compelling isn't the chaos of ideologies in violent conflict — it's the gut reality of human nature and commitment pushed to impossible extremes that can pull anyone into a well-told combat story, whether it be fictional, like Karl Marlantes' extraordinarily powerful Vietnam novel, Matterhorn, or a nonfiction account like David Finkel's The Good Soldiers. In the latter book, Finkel writes about the 800 soldiers of the 2-16 (Second Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division), young — average age, just nineteen — U.S. Army grunts assigned to an exceptionally dangerous sector of Baghdad during the Bush-ordered "surge" of 2007. The Good Soldiers has earned its author many accolades, and tonight you can meet him at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library (225 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-4120 or www.slpl.org) in a special event to celebrate his book being named as the 2011 Read St. Louis nonfiction selection. The program is free and begins at 7 p.m.; Left Bank Books will provide copies of The Good Soldiers for purchase and signing.
Thu., June 16, 2011