cover image Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War

Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War

John McCain and Mark Salter. Simon & Schuster, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4767-5965-4

Senator McCain and staffer Salter (Hard Call: Great Decisions and the People Who Made Them) deliver inspirational accounts of 13 Americans who fought in various wars. Their introduction, lauding soldiers “who went to war for our country, who risked their lives and suffered, and should not be forgotten,” will warn readers what to expect. Among the choices are Joseph Martin, who wrote a Revolutionary War memoir long beloved by historians, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who barely survived the U.S. Civil War. The authors make an attempt at diversity, choosing two black representatives: Charles Black, a sailor in the War of 1812, and Edward Baker, a buffalo soldier cavalryman who fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Mary Rhoads, one of two women included, survived a catastrophic Scud missile strike during the 1991 Gulf War, while Monica Lin Brown, a medic, earned a Silver Star in Afghanistan. Incidents of racism and sexism are highlighted as they emerge in the narrative. Each chapter includes an overview of the relevant war to contextualize the soldier’s story. “War is wretched beyond description,” but McCain and Salter aptly reveal humanizing moments in such theaters of cruelty. [em]Agent: Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.) [/em]