Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Melinda L. Pash

Melinda L. Pash received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee in 2005 and teaches at Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Her new book is In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: The Americans Who Fought the Korean War.

Earlier this month I asked the author about what she was reading. Pash's reply:
Currently I am reading one book and rereading two others.

First, let me start with my rereads. I was born in 1969, only a few years before the end of the American Vietnam War. But, my earliest historical memory is of my dad sitting with me, watching the evacuation from Saigon in 1975 and saying, “This is history being made.” Consequently, despite growing up in a time when nobody wanted to talk about Vietnam, I had a healthy interest in the war. I picked up books like Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History, but at 17 or 18, this sort of book just did not speak my language. Then, in college, I found Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. That book changed my life, drawing me vicariously into the world of war and forever interesting me in the experiences of men (and women) in the war zone. Ultimately, that book, and Tim O’Brien’s beautiful writing, led me to interview Korean War veterans and write In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation. I also have to credit O’Brien’s book with desensitizing me to the language of veterans—“Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty.” So, I’m rereading the book decades later to see if I still love it as much.

The other book I am rereading (with my 10 year old son) is From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. When I was child, this book made me realize that the past is really a secret and a mystery to be enjoyed. That probably doomed me to become a historian. But, the book is great and has withstood the test of time.

The newest book I am reading is Robert L. O’Connell’s The Ghosts of Cannae. At the college where I teach, I am the primary instructor of Western Civilization I and I have become more and more interested in the Romans. This book caught my eye because Cannae was, of course, one of the worst military disasters ever, with tens of thousands of Romans killed in a single day. But, Ghosts thus far exceeds my expectations, opening a window into the minds and cultures of both Rome and Carthage while at the same time telling a great story.
View the trailer for In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation, and learn more about the book at the New York University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue