From Publishers Weekly
Azar Nafisi meets David Lipsky in this memoir/meditation on crossing the border between the civilian world of literature and the world of the military during 10 years of teaching English at West Point. Samet's students sometimes respond to literature in ways that trouble her, but she lauds their intellectual courage as they negotiate the multiple contradictions of military life. Considering the link between literature and war, Samet insightfully explores how Vietnam fiction changed American literary discourse about the heroism of military service. Beyond books, Samet also examines how televised accounts of the Iraq War have turned American civilians into war's insulated voyeurs, and discusses the gap separating her from the rest of the audience watching a documentary on Iraq. Lighter, gently humorous sections reveal Samet's feelings about army argot. She has been known to ask her mother to meet her at 1800 instead of at 6:00 p.m., but she forbids the use of the exclamation Hooah!(an affirmative expression of the warrior spirit) in her classroom. Samet is prone to digressions that break the flow of great stories, like an account of her West Point job interview. But this meditation on war, teaching and literature is sympathetic, shrewd and sometimes profound. (Oct.)
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"Whats the difference, maam? Ill be in Iraq within a year anyway," contends a cadet in Elizabeth Samets English class. Soldiers Heart
responds by making a graceful, compelling case that reading forces her students to slow down and reflect on such timeless themes as courage, honor, and sacrifice, which results in better, more thoughtful soldiers. Part memoir, the book also examines her teaching career and shares her opinions of religion in the military and the war in Iraq. It is her sketches of students and colleagues that stand out, however, as she challenges stereotypes and provides a moving tribute to these proud, admirable men and women. By demonstrating that reading has an important place in the military, she makes a strong case for its value in civilian life as well.Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.