Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stephen Mansfield's Books

"When most soldiers are asked why they fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, they don't reply with ideals but with images of September 11, 2001, and their own family's experience. When the President prays with a wounded soldier at Walter Reed Hospital and kisses him after pinning on a medal, the tale circulates through the military and does more good than a hundred speeches.

And when soldiers are pressed by reporters about whether their presence means good for the countries they have liberated, soldiers normally respond with stories about cheering crowds of Iraqis or women who can now read in Afghanistan. The story, the narrative, is the expression of truth."

During this past Christmas break I read a bunch of books to get me started on my 50 list. The Faith of the American Soldier by Stephen Mansfield was one of them. I didn't expect to be so impressed. It was a unique book which combines the rich history of chaplains and soldiers in past wars with a description of the faith of today's soldier.
"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory."--General George S. Patton

One of the many stories he told was the inspirational story of the sacrifice by the Dorchester Chaplains that took place on February 2, 1943 during World War II. He also mentioned some other famous chaplains--Henry A. Brown, Francis P. Duffy and Coleman E. O'Flaherty.

He made an interesting observation that since Vietnam the chaplains have become more conservative and patriotic. The reason being the more liberal denominations lost their desire to be chaplains and thus many of them left the chaplaincy as a profession.

In the epilogue he gave some scriptures and songs that were particularly meaningful to a group of Marines and to many soldiers. Among them was Psalm 144 which is considered by many to be the "Soldier's Psalm" and the song, "Be Thou My Vision".

I enjoyed Mansfield's book on the Soldier so much that I wanted to check out some of his other books. I then came across, The Faith of George W. Bush on Cd and I just finished listening to it. It was also an excellent book and I learned a lot about Bush, his family and his faith that I didn't know.

I highly recommend both books and any book by him is bound to be good. He does a ton of research on whatever topic he is discussing and there is a lot of rich history in them. My next book of his that I want to read is Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill.

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