Edited by Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner. Published by Pegasus Books of New York and London in 2017. $24.95
Reviewed by MAMF Board Member Allen Dale Olson
If you have never experienced combat, chances are that anything you have assumed about it is incorrect. That becomes evident as you read through the stories of 24 seasoned combat veterans in The Road Ahead, each providing a view of America’s “Forever War.”
This 349-page volume is one of the newest anthologies to arrive in the library of the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF), a gift from the publisher, signed by the principal editor.
Each of the contributing writers saw serious combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and each of them has written for some of America’s most prestigious journals – The New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic, and so on. They know how to make their words reflect the horrors, the challenges, the triumphs, the failures of combat along with both the misguided and the inspired decisions of commanders and politicians who give shape to these never-ending wars.
The stories are presented as fiction, but there is no doubting that the stories are fact, true experiences, written from having been there.
One story takes you through the pain and anguish of changed family relations after deployment , another details what it’s like to see your bones protrude from where your lower leg flesh used to be, and yet another takes you inside a tribal meeting in an Afghani village to learn just how the elders view the American presence.
These writers hide nothing, spare nothing. Candidly they shed tears and they rage, they show compassion, and they boast. The women veterans are frank about sexuality in combat zones and their personal need to succeed in every way concerning the mission.
This book is literature of our new times, a nation constantly at war; it describes a new reality of who we are as a nation, having reached a place from which we cannot retreat; but more importantly, it points out that war is far more costly than the dollars needed to fight it. And finally, it shows the reality that for some, for many, returning to civilian society is more challenging than facing an enemy on the battlefield.
MAMF is proud to add this volume to its library
To order, click here
Museum of the American Military Family To Publish Korean War Novel
At its March Open House, The Museum of The American Military Family announced the acquisition of the novel, Battle Songs: A Story of the Korean War in Four Movements. Written by Author in Residence Paul Zolbrod, a retired Allegheny College English Professor now living in New Mexico, it will be published by the newly established MAMF Press this spring. It follows four draftees inducted from mining and farming communities in rural Western Pennsylvania to fight in Korea in the early nineteen fifties. There each must each must confront the absurdity of combat within the framework of hisown identity to understand a war that remains unresolved to this day.
Copies are expected to go on sale by early April, with all proceeds slated to help underwrite routine Museum operating expenses. This book comes on the heels of an earlier Museum publication, From the Frontlines to the Home Front, an anthology of reflections of deployment edited by Zolbrod and written by veterans themselves, as well as family members of those who served over a period covering World War II through the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Copies are being distributed without charge by way of a series of open discussions sponsored by the Museum thanks to a New Mexico Humanities Council grant. Or they will be available directly from the Museum in exchange for a donation.
Plans are underway for another Museum anthology, War Child: Lessons Learned from Growing Up in War, again, with a family perspective in keeping with the Museum’s mission. Those wishing to contribute a story of their own are invited to do so. It should express a child’s point of view but from all perspectives–service members who were still teen-agers when deployed; adults who as children grew up in a war zone; or children who had a parent or sibling serving in war. Submissions can be about the recent campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era, World War II, and all conflicts in between. All pieces should be from a child’s perspective and, if applicable, include a reflection or lesson learned from the experience.
The Museum would especially like to include stories from children and young adults whose parents are currently serving. A story can be as long or as short as the writer chooses. Just make it heartfelt, honest, and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss–stories that illustrate the variety of events that impact on day-to-day family life in war times. Potential writers do not have to consider themselves accomplished writers to participate. Editorial services will be available to sharpen contributions when needed. Stories can be submitted online to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Museum of the American Military family is a non-profit organization with a national outreach headquartered in Tijeras, New Mexico.