[I posted this at The Times’ First Edition Facebook page]
Andrew Bacevich, an academic with a rare insider’s understanding of the American army (he was a senior officer and lost a son in the Iraq war) has written a good piece on fiction and the military. I’ve been trying to think of British equivalents of the books he mentions. I know Evelyn Waugh’s “Sword of Honour” Trilogy ought to be on the list, but I’ve never actually been able to finish it. One work that really surprised me was Nicholas Monsarrat’s “The Cruel Sea”, which I only got round to reading a few years ago: a terrific novel which doesn’t deserve to be overshadowed by the 1950s film adaptation. Any other suggestions? I can think of lots of memoirs, but not novels. There must be plenty more. On the American side, I’d add two well-known contenders: Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead” and Gore Vidal’s “Williwaw”.