Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point
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 ...more
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Well, I now suggest that more 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 more of their s ...more
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 wo ...more
When I began reading “Soldier’s Heart,” this book interested me as the son of a veteran of Vietnam who was the son of a veteran of World War II, as the son of a father who came back from his time as a medic being wounded by bullets and shrapnel to join Vietnam Veterans Against the War. It interested me as an English teacher and adjunct professor who had both taught students thinking of going into the military at the high school and combat veterans at the college. I have been persecuted at the h ...more
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 shel ...more
Samet does what I think she needed to accomplish in here book, describe why teaching literature to future soldiers is so important. I thought it was a given, but Samet describes the thinking of soldiers an ...more
More than that though, I feel like I am coming away from reading this book with a better vision of soldiers as people. It's painfully easy to look at people who do things we don't understand and to assume things. This seems to have been made even easier in recent years due to the ext ...more
Samet's choice of the literature they read is absolut ...more
It wasn’t my favorite. It also proved to me that professors of English aren’t necessarily good writers. There wasn’t much of a thread to follow through the chapters, and at times it felt very disjointed and like a random jum ...more
"What's the difference, ma'am? I'll be in Iraq within a year anyway," contends a cadet in Elizabeth Samet's English class. Soldier's 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...more
Samet does not provide a linear narrative so we don't get a sense of how she changed. I would have liked to get more of a sense of a typical day, week and month. And I wish she had speculated more about her own role as a civilian who was beginning to think like a military person.
As a career consu ...more
I was blown away by the passion of some of her students for classic literature, film, and poetry; the book certainly does much to destroy uninformed stereotype ...more
Once again I have retreated--or advanced--to literature perhaps because I'm more comfortable analyzing it than I am my own relationship to war and to the people who wage it.
There's a lot of emotional attachment and...sadness?...under the surface in the book that's continually overtaken by scholarly ruminations. ...more
As someone who toyed briefly with the idea of the Naval Academy and was separated by afew degrees from one of the first women at West Point, these institutions have held some fascination for me - no doubt, the "liturgical" quality of the military is a piece of this. But I had higher hopes for this book - it talked more about her than about her students, and was focused on ancient literature that I haven't read. Still, it was worth reading as a reminder of the value of a liberal arts education an ...more
Otherwise, I found it incredibly interesting ...more