Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point ❰Ebook❯ ➠ Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point Author Elizabeth D. Samet – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Includes a New Afterword by the AuthorA New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceA USA Today Best Book of 2007A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2007What does it mean to teach literature to a s Includes a New Reading Literature MOBI ´ Afterword by the AuthorA New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceA USA Today Best Book of A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of What does it mean to teach literature to a soldier How does it prepare a young man or woman for combat At West Point Elizabeth Samet reads classic and modern works of literature with America's future military elite and in this stirring memoir she chronicles the ways in which war has transformed her relationship to the books she and her students read together While fighting in Ira and Soldier's Heart: ePUB ´ Afghanistan Samet's former students share their thoughts on the poetry of Wallace Stevens the fiction of Virginia Woolf and J M Coetzee the epics of Homer and the Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace PDF \ films of Bogart and Cagney And their letters in turn prompt Samet to wonder exactly what she owes to cadets in the classroom Soldier's Heart is an honest and original reflection on the relationship between art and life.


10 thoughts on “Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point

  1. Dee Arr Dee Arr says:

    What we now call PTSD was originally treated as a heart malady during the Civil War when physicians interpreted the symptoms to be linked to cardiovascular disease The psychosomatic cause would not be identified until many years later and the soldiers were diagnosed as suffering from “disorderly action of the heart” referred to during World War I as “soldier’s heart” Elizabeth D Samet discusses this and other subjects with West Point as the backdrop At the time of publication Ms Samet had spent seven years teaching literature at the military school and the book is a collection of well ordered thoughts about her education of the cadets in her class At the same time she shares the education she received from her students and peersThough the book’s title may have once been the description of an illness Samet’s “Soldier’s Heart” is much The author shares the deepest and darkest thoughts of her cadets as well as her own constantly wrapping it all within the literature of peace and war Topics are broken down into chapters and the expected discussions on courage and sacrifice are covered While I initially expected this to be something on the order of Lt Col Dave Grossman’s books “On Killing” and “On Combat” early on I found Ms Samet’s book to be much personal How do cadets come to terms with the expectations of the Army when contrasted with their beliefs?Honor and obedience “a duty in military culture; war turns it into a sacred duty” are both discussed at length While Ms Samet may lead us in one direction or another she still allows plenty of room for readers to think their own thoughts and arrive at new conclusions a hallmark of a successful teacher The author continually places us in the minds of her plebes At the end of a lengthy discussion concerning one cadet Kevin Ms Samet writes “It is one of the great paradoxes of the Hemingway hero Kevin found that his cynicism is sustained by heroic fantasies The appeal of such a sensibility to cadets believing themselves underappreciated by civilians who construe their military service as an uncomplicated desire ‘to kill people’ is understandably potent” The author skillfully uses the literature from her class to propel her cadets toward deeper thinking and at the same time I found myself being educated and realizing there are many authors I need to discover and maybe a few it wouldn’t hurt to return to read a second time No matter what you think about the men and women who choose to serve their country as soldiers this book will open your eyes and give you a new perspective Five stars


  2. Patty Patty says:

    When this book came up as a suggestion for my book group I was really unsure how I felt about it West Point? The military? Who teaches literature to soldiers? I think my reaction proved to myself that I had to at least start this bookWell I now suggest that of us need to read this book These folks work hard As a former English major I stand in awe of what is expected of these women and men I had good professors and they wanted a lot from us West Point is asking much of their students The reading lists are phenomenal I should start reading from these lists to catch myself upSamet must be a good teacher It is obvious that she cares; she pays attention and she does not expect from her students than she does from herself Through her book she has given me an understanding about the military that I don't think I could have gotten anywhere elseThis book introduced me to a world I never cared about That was very shortsighted on my part Thanks very much to NS who suggested we read this book It enlarged my life


  3. Ferris Ferris says:

    Okay I have to be honest I am politically and socially liberal and fairly anti military So I give myself some credit for choosing to read this book However I am also a bibliophile and was fascinated to learn what role literature might play at an institution like West Point This book was extremely interesting The choice of literature both classic and contemporary was intriguing It was such a pleasure to read of the author's attempts to reinforce that one can be ambivalent and committed at the same time that thought is a good thing to hold on to even in the obedience mentality of the military There were many interesting anecdotes about individual students and the role literature plays in their lives The reader is also privy to the dilemmas facing a civilian instructor at a military educational institution Perhaps one of my greatest pleasures in this book is the marvelous use of vocabulary by the author who clearly loves using the myriad of words available to all of us in our language The only negative is that there were a couple of slower sections But they are brief and certainly outnumbered by engaging and thought provoking writing by this fascinating author


  4. Ed Ed says:

    I really loved this book Seems unlikely but reading about an English professor teaching poetry and literature to West Point military cadets who are going off to war taught me a lot about literature its importance the ambiguity and subtlety of the military mind It is also an important work politically because of its take on the war and on the failure to establish clear rules of war in the War on Terror The characters who feature in this book are people you would really want to know which is not my first reaction go visit West Point to meet deeply thoughtful people But hey they are and so is the author It is also well written and I read it almost at one sitting


  5. BMR, LCSW BMR, LCSW says:

    This was a thought provoking book by an English professor at West PointMy only complaint is that the author never shared if any of her former students were killed in action I can't believe she taught for over a decade and never lost a former student I mean it's great if she didn't butthe odds are not that goodRecommended for curious readers and people who care what and if soldiers think


  6. Roger Burk Roger Burk says:

    Like Dr Samet I am a civilian professor at West Point so much of the setting here was very familiar to me I envy her close and continuing relationship with cadets but maybe English literature provides opportunities for personal connection than my statistics This book is astoundingly rich with new ideas and literary allusions on every page


  7. Kim Miller-Davis Kim Miller-Davis says:

    This book is written by an English professor at West Point who relates her experiences teaching literature to cadets who despite their youth and relative inexperience will likely find themselves leading troops into battle halfway across the world soon after they graduate I bought this book for my husband in 2007 thinking that since he's a reader who attended the Air Force Academy he would see himself in the stories of the cadets However the only thing he did with it was put it on the shelf So last weekend I decided to read it myself A uick disclaimer I served in the Army for 5 years as a mental health counselor and I now teach English Composition Literature at two local community colleges so this book was a perfect fit for me in a lot of ways I'll get to that in a minuteFirst a warning I'm not sure this book was packagedmarketed correctly Based on the descriptions on the cover and inside flap I bought it under the mistaken impression that it was a mainstream account of literary education at West Point ie an educator's perspective told in easily understood language and accessible style It's not There are times when Samet's narrative voice is purposeful and clear However there are times when she employs the meandering style of an academician's analytical ponderings that although brilliant in depth and scope initially appear to be divergent and convoluted This might be off putting for anyone expecting much lighter fare Having said that it's a really really good analysis Samet uses the intersection of her own experiences and those of her cadets to illustrate some larger points about the true meaning of honor duty and courageHere's a list of some of the best parts of the book1Her descriptions of cadet life at West Point 2 Anecdotal stories of the cadets' reactions to a wide array of literary works She details their in class analyses as well as the ways in which the literature continued to impact their military lives long after they left West Point3Explanations of the history of West Point teaching philosophies4Samet's observations of representations in various works ancient through present day of individual warrior psychology and military culture5Samet's argument that a foundation in Liberal Arts Education is a necessity for success in any arena of professional lifeeven those in which it might appear as if the Arts are completely unrelated eg the military She clearly articulates the process by which liberal arts courses facilitate logical and emotional development6Samet's thorough analysis of gender role expectations in war literature and in the military culture7Samet's brief but interesting exploration of the depiction of PTSD in literatureAn interest in any one of the above items makes the struggle completely worth the effort


  8. Anna Anna says:

    Elizabeth Samet a civilian literature professor at West Point recounts This is a story about my intellectual and emotional connections to military culture and to certain people in it but the real drama lies in the way the cadets I teach and the officers with whom I work negotiate the multiple contradictions of their private and professional worldthe courage with which they challenge accepted truths; the nuanced way they read literature and culture; and the ingenious methods they have for resisting conformity in lives largely given over to rules and regulations And who knew that the Military Academy of the United States graduates English majors? Samet states All cadets graduate from West Point with a bachelor of science degree but they can major in anything from mechanical engineering to Arabic Those who elect to study in our department's art philosophy and literature program are the ones I know best but in the core courses I also get the opportunity to see a cross section of cadets at work The cadets like humanity run the gamut of all types from the right wing Christian to the progressive ACLU card carrier and you should read Samet's chronicle for her list of recommended books and films for a liberal education as well as her insights into the connections between art and life


  9. Alex T. Alex T. says:

    Soldier's Heart Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point looked perfectly normal on the NPR website From the article about it to the accompanying excerpt I came to expect a book full of humorous stories about the odyssey of a civilian literature professor navigating the military Instead Professor Samet messes with your mind At least she messed with mine Over the course of the book Samet leads the reader as she leads her students to uestion our personal and societal ideas about the nature of courage obedience heroism personal responsibility and sacrifice Through her literature classes and through this bookshe views current events through the lens of literature poetry and film as well as the memoirs of military leaders such as Grant and MacArthur She also searches for and finds the relevance of literature and by extension herself in a society which she thought would view such a thing with disdain I found myself confronting and meditating upon my own views of courage sacrifice and heroism and not without some discomfort Too early to tell whether this will be one of those books that will change my life but it certainly has caused a fair bit of introspection


  10. Katrina Gonsalves Katrina Gonsalves says:

    As I was reading other reviews it struck me that I did not see any comments from parents of West Point cadets or candidates I read this book after hearing Samet interviewed on NPR and a desire to understand what my son will experience when he enters CBT Cadet Basic Training and West Point in three short weeks I was deeply moved scared and comforted I should mention that I had to take a break from reading TWICE in the first 15 pages as my eyes welled with tears What these young men and women sign up for is truly heroic And if all the courses are as rigorous as Elizabeth’s they leave West Point with a ‘World Class Education’ they so readily toutI’m not one for long reviews so whether it’s the closeness she has with her students the cadets struggle to become a soldier and meld their oldnew selves together the closeness and support they receive and you can feel this the moment you walk on base as well as the trials they endure this book exceeded my expectations and really opened my eyes to the real West Point I now think this book should be reuired reading for all West Point parents


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10 thoughts on “Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point

  1. Dee Arr Dee Arr says:

    What we now call PTSD was originally treated as a heart malady during the Civil War when physicians interpreted the symptoms to be linked to cardiovascular disease The psychosomatic cause would not be identified until many years later and the soldiers were diagnosed as suffering from “disorderly action of the heart” referred to during World War I as “soldier’s heart” Elizabeth D Samet discusses this and other subjects with West Point as the backdrop At the time of publication Ms Samet had spent seven years teaching literature at the military school and the book is a collection of well ordered thoughts about her education of the cadets in her class At the same time she shares the education she received from her students and peersThough the book’s title may have once been the description of an illness Samet’s “Soldier’s Heart” is much The author shares the deepest and darkest thoughts of her cadets as well as her own constantly wrapping it all within the literature of peace and war Topics are broken down into chapters and the expected discussions on courage and sacrifice are covered While I initially expected this to be something on the order of Lt Col Dave Grossman’s books “On Killing” and “On Combat” early on I found Ms Samet’s book to be much personal How do cadets come to terms with the expectations of the Army when contrasted with their beliefs?Honor and obedience “a duty in military culture; war turns it into a sacred duty” are both discussed at length While Ms Samet may lead us in one direction or another she still allows plenty of room for readers to think their own thoughts and arrive at new conclusions a hallmark of a successful teacher The author continually places us in the minds of her plebes At the end of a lengthy discussion concerning one cadet Kevin Ms Samet writes “It is one of the great paradoxes of the Hemingway hero Kevin found that his cynicism is sustained by heroic fantasies The appeal of such a sensibility to cadets believing themselves underappreciated by civilians who construe their military service as an uncomplicated desire ‘to kill people’ is understandably potent” The author skillfully uses the literature from her class to propel her cadets toward deeper thinking and at the same time I found myself being educated and realizing there are many authors I need to discover and maybe a few it wouldn’t hurt to return to read a second time No matter what you think about the men and women who choose to serve their country as soldiers this book will open your eyes and give you a new perspective Five stars

  2. Patty Patty says:

    When this book came up as a suggestion for my book group I was really unsure how I felt about it West Point? The military? Who teaches literature to soldiers? I think my reaction proved to myself that I had to at least start this bookWell I now suggest that of us need to read this book These folks work hard As a former English major I stand in awe of what is expected of these women and men I had good professors and they wanted a lot from us West Point is asking much of their students The reading lists are phenomenal I should start reading from these lists to catch myself upSamet must be a good teacher It is obvious that she cares; she pays attention and she does not expect from her students than she does from herself Through her book she has given me an understanding about the military that I don't think I could have gotten anywhere elseThis book introduced me to a world I never cared about That was very shortsighted on my part Thanks very much to NS who suggested we read this book It enlarged my life

  3. Ferris Ferris says:

    Okay I have to be honest I am politically and socially liberal and fairly anti military So I give myself some credit for choosing to read this book However I am also a bibliophile and was fascinated to learn what role literature might play at an institution like West Point This book was extremely interesting The choice of literature both classic and contemporary was intriguing It was such a pleasure to read of the author's attempts to reinforce that one can be ambivalent and committed at the same time that thought is a good thing to hold on to even in the obedience mentality of the military There were many interesting anecdotes about individual students and the role literature plays in their lives The reader is also privy to the dilemmas facing a civilian instructor at a military educational institution Perhaps one of my greatest pleasures in this book is the marvelous use of vocabulary by the author who clearly loves using the myriad of words available to all of us in our language The only negative is that there were a couple of slower sections But they are brief and certainly outnumbered by engaging and thought provoking writing by this fascinating author

  4. Ed Ed says:

    I really loved this book Seems unlikely but reading about an English professor teaching poetry and literature to West Point military cadets who are going off to war taught me a lot about literature its importance the ambiguity and subtlety of the military mind It is also an important work politically because of its take on the war and on the failure to establish clear rules of war in the War on Terror The characters who feature in this book are people you would really want to know which is not my first reaction go visit West Point to meet deeply thoughtful people But hey they are and so is the author It is also well written and I read it almost at one sitting

  5. BMR, LCSW BMR, LCSW says:

    This was a thought provoking book by an English professor at West PointMy only complaint is that the author never shared if any of her former students were killed in action I can't believe she taught for over a decade and never lost a former student I mean it's great if she didn't butthe odds are not that goodRecommended for curious readers and people who care what and if soldiers think

  6. Roger Burk Roger Burk says:

    Like Dr Samet I am a civilian professor at West Point so much of the setting here was very familiar to me I envy her close and continuing relationship with cadets but maybe English literature provides opportunities for personal connection than my statistics This book is astoundingly rich with new ideas and literary allusions on every page

  7. Kim Miller-Davis Kim Miller-Davis says:

    This book is written by an English professor at West Point who relates her experiences teaching literature to cadets who despite their youth and relative inexperience will likely find themselves leading troops into battle halfway across the world soon after they graduate I bought this book for my husband in 2007 thinking that since he's a reader who attended the Air Force Academy he would see himself in the stories of the cadets However the only thing he did with it was put it on the shelf So last weekend I decided to read it myself A uick disclaimer I served in the Army for 5 years as a mental health counselor and I now teach English Composition Literature at two local community colleges so this book was a perfect fit for me in a lot of ways I'll get to that in a minuteFirst a warning I'm not sure this book was packagedmarketed correctly Based on the descriptions on the cover and inside flap I bought it under the mistaken impression that it was a mainstream account of literary education at West Point ie an educator's perspective told in easily understood language and accessible style It's not There are times when Samet's narrative voice is purposeful and clear However there are times when she employs the meandering style of an academician's analytical ponderings that although brilliant in depth and scope initially appear to be divergent and convoluted This might be off putting for anyone expecting much lighter fare Having said that it's a really really good analysis Samet uses the intersection of her own experiences and those of her cadets to illustrate some larger points about the true meaning of honor duty and courageHere's a list of some of the best parts of the book1Her descriptions of cadet life at West Point 2 Anecdotal stories of the cadets' reactions to a wide array of literary works She details their in class analyses as well as the ways in which the literature continued to impact their military lives long after they left West Point3Explanations of the history of West Point teaching philosophies4Samet's observations of representations in various works ancient through present day of individual warrior psychology and military culture5Samet's argument that a foundation in Liberal Arts Education is a necessity for success in any arena of professional lifeeven those in which it might appear as if the Arts are completely unrelated eg the military She clearly articulates the process by which liberal arts courses facilitate logical and emotional development6Samet's thorough analysis of gender role expectations in war literature and in the military culture7Samet's brief but interesting exploration of the depiction of PTSD in literatureAn interest in any one of the above items makes the struggle completely worth the effort

  8. Anna Anna says:

    Elizabeth Samet a civilian literature professor at West Point recounts This is a story about my intellectual and emotional connections to military culture and to certain people in it but the real drama lies in the way the cadets I teach and the officers with whom I work negotiate the multiple contradictions of their private and professional worldthe courage with which they challenge accepted truths; the nuanced way they read literature and culture; and the ingenious methods they have for resisting conformity in lives largely given over to rules and regulations And who knew that the Military Academy of the United States graduates English majors? Samet states All cadets graduate from West Point with a bachelor of science degree but they can major in anything from mechanical engineering to Arabic Those who elect to study in our department's art philosophy and literature program are the ones I know best but in the core courses I also get the opportunity to see a cross section of cadets at work The cadets like humanity run the gamut of all types from the right wing Christian to the progressive ACLU card carrier and you should read Samet's chronicle for her list of recommended books and films for a liberal education as well as her insights into the connections between art and life

  9. Alex T. Alex T. says:

    Soldier's Heart Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point looked perfectly normal on the NPR website From the article about it to the accompanying excerpt I came to expect a book full of humorous stories about the odyssey of a civilian literature professor navigating the military Instead Professor Samet messes with your mind At least she messed with mine Over the course of the book Samet leads the reader as she leads her students to uestion our personal and societal ideas about the nature of courage obedience heroism personal responsibility and sacrifice Through her literature classes and through this bookshe views current events through the lens of literature poetry and film as well as the memoirs of military leaders such as Grant and MacArthur She also searches for and finds the relevance of literature and by extension herself in a society which she thought would view such a thing with disdain I found myself confronting and meditating upon my own views of courage sacrifice and heroism and not without some discomfort Too early to tell whether this will be one of those books that will change my life but it certainly has caused a fair bit of introspection

  10. Katrina Gonsalves Katrina Gonsalves says:

    As I was reading other reviews it struck me that I did not see any comments from parents of West Point cadets or candidates I read this book after hearing Samet interviewed on NPR and a desire to understand what my son will experience when he enters CBT Cadet Basic Training and West Point in three short weeks I was deeply moved scared and comforted I should mention that I had to take a break from reading TWICE in the first 15 pages as my eyes welled with tears What these young men and women sign up for is truly heroic And if all the courses are as rigorous as Elizabeth’s they leave West Point with a ‘World Class Education’ they so readily toutI’m not one for long reviews so whether it’s the closeness she has with her students the cadets struggle to become a soldier and meld their oldnew selves together the closeness and support they receive and you can feel this the moment you walk on base as well as the trials they endure this book exceeded my expectations and really opened my eyes to the real West Point I now think this book should be reuired reading for all West Point parents

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