Seeking Participants for Veterans Book Group

December 10, 2021 | By Baltimore County Public Library

The Veterans Book Group is seeking participants for its monthly book discussions. Back for an eighth year, the group aims to bring veterans of all eras together, read and discuss varied pieces of literature—including memoirs, novels, poetry, short stories and essays. 

Led by Dr. Karen Arnold, independent scholar, poet and former visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, this group is open to current service members and veterans from all eras. The program is presented in conjunction with Maryland Humanities. 

2022 Virtual Meeting Schedule and Book Selections 

Participants should plan to attend all five meetings, held via Zoom on the fourth Monday of every month through May. Registration is required. To register, contact the Adult and Community Engagement department by emailing or calling 410-887-0238

January 24

"Every Day Is a Gift" by Tammy Duckworth 
"Every Day Is a Gift" takes readers through the amazing—and amazingly true—stories from Tammy’s incomparable life. In November of 2004, an Iraqi RPG blew through the cockpit of her U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter. The explosion, which destroyed her legs and mangled her right arm, was a turning point in her life. But as Duckworth shows in "Every Day Is a Gift," that moment was just one in a lifetime of extraordinary turns. 

February 28

"The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior" by Robert O’Neill 
In "The Operator," Robert O’Neill describes his idyllic childhood in Butte, Montana, his impulsive decision to join the SEALs, the arduous evaluation and training process and the even tougher gauntlet he had to run to join the SEAL’s most elite unit. After officially becoming a SEAL, O’Neill would spend more than a decade in the most intense counterterror effort in U.S. history. For extended periods, not a night passed without him and his small team recording multiple enemy kills—and though he was lucky enough to survive, several of the SEALs he’d trained with and fought beside never made it home. 

March 28

"Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II" by Kaia Alderson 
Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the Army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting on the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the Army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve. As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two Northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated Army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else. Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.  

April 25 

"Grenade" by Alan Gratz 
It's 1945, and the world is in the grip of war. Hideki lives on the island of Okinawa, near Japan. When WWII crashes onto his shores, Hideki is drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps to fight for the Japanese army. He is handed a grenade and a set of instructions: Don't come back until you've killed an American soldier. Ray, a young American Marine, has just landed on Okinawa. He doesn't know what to expect — or if he'll make it out alive. He just knows that the enemy is everywhere. Hideki and Ray each fight their way across the island, surviving heart-pounding ambushes and dangerous traps. But when the two of them collide in the middle of the battle, the choices they make in that instant change everything. From the acclaimed author of Refugee comes this high-octane story of how fear can tear us apart, and how hope can tie us back together. 

Excerpts from “Descent into Hell” by Ryukyu Shimpo, translated by Mark Ealey and Alastair McLauchlan, which will also be discussed during this session, will be e-mailed to participants prior to the program.

May 23 

"The Mountains Sing" by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai 
"The Mountains Sing" tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country but also her family. 

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