Pros:Inspirational stories from and about war veterans
Cons:At times a bit graphic, but none, really
The Bottom Line: Any veteran or patriotic American should read Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul.
While not all of them will talk about it, most war veterans love to tell their stories to basically anyone that will listen. Hell, even non-combat vets will readily offer up their tales to an audience. These stories all have a couple of things in common: they’re entertaining, even fascinating to listen to, and they’re always inspiring, no matter what the circumstances the stories are derived from. A hundred or so veterans and family members recount their tales in editors Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Sidney R. Slagter’s 2001 book Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul: Stories to Stir the Pride and Honor the Courage of Our Veterans.
Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul is just one in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of inspirational tomes, and while it’s aimed mainly at vets, it’s a damn fine read for anyone, especially those falling on the patriotic side of the fence. Not only is it an inspiring, feel-good book, it’s also, often, a tear-inducer and should make any reader proud to be an American, and offers insight into the sacrifice made by those who fought to keep our country great.
These are real stories told by those who experienced combat firsthand, and boy are they interesting. You’ll read, for instance, Senator John McCain’s tale of a fellow prisoner of war during the Vietnam Conflict. McCain’s friend had stitched together a crude, small American flag and sewed it to the inside of his uniform. After he was discovered by his Vietnamese captors, he was severely beaten for his troubles, in front of his fellow POW’s for full effect. This proud soldier, captured fighting an unpopular war, immediately began stitching together another flag to take its place. You’ll read about a small platoon of grunts that was separated from their unit during the Battle of the Bulge. Lost, hungry, frozen, and wounded, they spent nine whole days wandering around searching for friendly’s to save them. To make matters worse, German troops were stealing clothing from American dead in order to stay warm, and using American vehicles. The lost platoon had no idea who or what lay around each corner, so to speak, and couldn’t even be sure that an American uniform actually contained an American troop.
You’ll read the elation one GI felt as the plane taking him from Vietnam back to “the world” finally touched down on American soil. You’ll even get the account of a civilian man, who, as a child, visited the battlefield of the Battle of Gettysburg with a Gettysburg veteran, and how touched the old man was visiting the battlefield of his youth after so many years away.
And it’s not all veteran’s accounts, either. The late comedian Bob Hope recounts the first time he took his weekly radio show to an American airbase in California during WWII (at first he resisted, wondering just what such a visit would accomplish.) As each joke was greeted with more and more enthusiastic applause, Hope realized that they were on to something good and it was the start of Hope’s lifetime tradition of putting on U.S.O. shows for servicemen and women, desperate for anything that reminded them of home.
Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul, while at times not exactly a fun book (some of the stories are graphic and fairly descriptive,) is an inspiring book. As a non-combat vet, I always enjoy listening to war stories when I get the chance. This book contains tales that you might not get to hear from the combat veterans of your acquaintance. Most of the guys in this read saw some heavy duty sh!t during their tours of duty, and their stories are fascinating. Whether you’re a vet yourself, or just a patriotic American, Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul should make you feel proud to be so.
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