Monday, December 22, 2008

Soldier's Heart by Elizabeth D. Samet

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace And War At West Point has won multiple awards. Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2007, USA Today Best Book of 2007, and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2007.

It deserves those awards. It is not, however, a quick, or light read. It's the kind of book that requires the reader to pay attention. It is thought-provoking and illuminating and it will make you think.

Elizabeth Samet takes us through her years of teaching literature at West Point, from her early arrival for her first interview, to her continuuing communications with the soldier's she taught over the ten years she spent there. This is a memoir of her experiences and observations and is filled with many references to the books she used in her classes and some of the insights that both she and her students gained from studying them. It made me want to read some of these books too, as I feel I would understand them now in a different perspective. When I first started this book, I felt disconnected and that it probably has more relevance to American people in general, and to those more intimately connected to West Point specifically. Now I have to say that I feel it is worth reading for it's glimpses of life at West Point, and in the military, but also for the literature itself. In the back is included a list of recommended books and films and I'm thinking I might just try to work my way through them!

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