Behind the Scenes of War - 5 books of fiction set after WW2, from PTSD through to Nuclear Weapons, and State Assassinations.

These five books explore scenes behind the military might that has been on display since the Second World War. Ranging from novels to short stories, to poetry and even beyond, you can explore thoughts about the threat of nuclear weapons, the suffering of PTSD when home from war, and even State assassinations. We include Nico Walker, who at the time of writing was still in prison in the USA after returning from Iraq with severe PTSD and began to rob banks to pay for his drug addiction.  Award-winning poets Robert Macfarlane and J.O Morgan write separately about the threat of nuclear weapons in the most powerfully beautiful, fierce and frightening way possible. Phil Klay’s debut and award-winning collection of stories from the front line and beyond was recommended by Barack Obama. While Russian author Sergei Lebedev includes: “poisons of all kinds: physical, moral, and political". So look behind and beyond the obvious, and discover some disturbing yet penetrating and powerful reads. 

Ness

Ness

Author: Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/11/2019

This is what a reading experience is all about, Ness touches, tests, pushes, strokes, inspires, and I have given this little book my heart. I have hesitated about explaining the background to Ness, but have decided that to know doesn’t unduly shape thoughts. Orford Ness in Suffolk is a shingle island which is constantly changing due to the sea and weather. It is the site of an abandoned military base where research included nuclear weaponry during the Cold War. The author and illustrator know this place, and have created a powerful lyrical read where nature takes steps to stop a crime against the world. It is a wonderful heady mix of novella and poetry-prose, a fantasy creation of word and illustration that took up lodging in my mind. A hagstone, which allows a veiled glimpse to the future or past, sits centre stage throughout the book, the illustrations by Stanley Donwood allowing a viewing station, a pause, before the next taste of action. The words by Robert Macfarlane sing, they just beg to be spoken, to be heard. As I spoke the words, I had the feeling that I was setting them free, and at the final few pages a shiver of emotion skittered down my arms. Ness is a beautiful yet fierce and frightening call, containing a warning that we should be shrieking from the rooftops. I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
Redeployment

Redeployment

Author: Phil Klay Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/12/2014

An utterly compelling read giving an insight into the wars in Iraq, written with a frank, decisive and convincing hand. Once you start reading, you quite simply don't want to stop, it’s an often uncomfortable read but there is a feeling of needing to know and wanting to empathise with these characters. It feels as though you have been permission to have direct access to their minds, their memories, the confusion of going from a war zone to a home town, of being in combat. Although there are 12 short stories revealed here, it almost seems as though you are listening to one solider and yet all of them at the same time. Unless from a military background you may need to have a device handy to look up the acronyms used here. This is a commanding collection of short stories, one that will demand your attention throughout and clamour at your consciousness long after.~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Cherry

Cherry

Author: Nico Walker Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/02/2019

An incredibly raw, at times difficult to read, quite gobsmacking debut. Cherry made me flinch, both physically and mentally, at times I had to look away and think of something else, yet the words continued to call to me. The author Nico Walker, as of 2019, is still in prison in the USA, he served as an army medic in Iraq, and returning home with severe PTSD started to rob banks to pay for his drug addiction. This story centres on a narrator who serves as an army medic in Iraq, and returning home with severe PTSD starts to rob banks to pay for his drug addiction (yes the same tale as the author). Let me be clear, this is a novel, yet the voice of the author is clearly heard, this is his story and he stamps his words, his very being on every single page. Hammer hard, quick firing sentences (with some choice language attached) shoot off of the page. There were times when I really didn’t like the narator, some of his life choices are difficult to understand, yet that is the whole point. The story turns full circle from the prologue, creating what feels like a never ending loop. This book made me ache, it often physically hurt to soak up the words, yet I would read it all again tomorrow, and so Cherry has to be one of my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Assurances

Assurances

Author: J. O. Morgan Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/06/2018

Assurances is an award-winning narrative poem, a story, a collection of words that funnels thought, tightens feelings, allows and encourages consideration. Assurances with its mix of verse and unversed passages is a poem about the threat of nuclear war, it is shocking, yet also quite beautiful as it looks from sky to earth, from bottom to top, from small to global. I started to read, and found myself reading out loud, feeling each word, the placement, the power. If you love poetry, you may have already come across J. O. Morgan, if you are uncertain, if you aren’t sure if poetry is for you then do step inside, let the words connect, allow yourself to explore. I adore the ‘as with’ sections, the daily, known, ordinary, opening up and allowing understanding of the military might, the standoff, the forever nature of nuclear weapons. Assurances flows, breaks, breathes, wounds, hurts, it is 48 pages of provocative and powerful, do read it.

Untraceable

Untraceable

Author: Sergei Lebedev Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

An extraordinary and angry Russian novel about poisons of all kinds: physical, moral and political. Untraceable is a wonderful piece of fiction rooted in the recent history of Russia's state assassinations, especially the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Professor Kalitin is a ruthless, narcissistic chemist who has developed an untraceable, extremely lethal poison called Neophyte while working in a secret city on an island in the Russian far east. When the Soviet Union collapses, he defects and is given a new identity in Germany. After an unrelated Russian is murdered with Kalitin's poison, his cover is blown and he's drawn into the German investigation of the death. Two special forces killers with a lot of Chechen blood on their hands are sent to silence him - using his own undetectable poison. Their journey to their target is full of blunders, mishaps, holdups and accidents. Urgently topical and compellingly readable.

Star Books

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