Meat for literate lions: a winter reading list.

Author:Connor, John
Position:ODD ANGRY SHOT
 
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So, when it's 20 below, you're hip-deep in snow, a Norther begins to blow, and the weather-geeks are tossin' around phrases like "Polar Vortex" and "Snowmageddon" in shrill, anxious voices as though cold, stormy winter weather is something new and unheard of in human history, what do ya do? That's right: Put another log on the fire, settle into the easy chair and bust out a good book. And yeah, I've got a few suggestions for you...

A Soldier's Tale--Three Nineteenth Century Stories of Life at War is actually three slim volumes in a sturdy slipcase: "The Letters of Private Wheeler 1809-1828;" "The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier--Jakob Walter" and "The Recollections of Rifleman Harris." Benjamin Harris and William Wheeler both fought for Britain during the Peninsular Campaigns and throughout the Napoleonic Wars, while Jakob Walter, despite his Germanic name, was conscripted into Napoleon's armies and grappled with soldiers like Wheeler and Harris.

In the January 2016 "Odd Angry Shot" I recommended A Waterloo Hero--The Reminiscences of Friedrich Lindau, the story of a Hanoverian rifleman serving in England's Kings German Legion during the same time frame. Quite a few of you bought copies and enjoyed reading them immensely. These three tales are of the same type. Historians can give us the broad strokes, the strategies of nations, the ebb and flow of massive campaigns and battles, and some do a very good job of it. But reading the first-hand accounts of the rank and file combatants who actually engaged with bayonet, rifle butt, knives, fists and boots; who survived weather and disease which often killed more of them than cannon and rifle fire; who often were forced to launch raids against orders just to seize food when they were starving--those are the stories you'll find here, and they're riveting. I fear such books will become even more rare and hard to find, since they can't compete in the market with Sci-Fi thriller and Gothic vampire romance novels.

This set is low-production, so I advise you to jump on it quick. I've purchased two gently-used sets through Abe Books online (abebooks.com) for less than $20 per set including shipping from England. As of today, Abe lists 11 sets for sale; Amazon lists three sets and eBay one. There are undoubtedly more and they will surface, but I'd move fast. Good hunting!

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