Humans need flesh and blood heroes. Metaphors only go so far—we need to know that the ones we look up to actually fought and died, that they were made of the same substance we are, that they cried and triumphed and met defeat. Military heroes are some of the most straightforward; you can't argue with swords and cannons, and you can't get much less metaphorical than a battlefield.
We're not warmongers, nor are we saying all the biographies in this section are of men we deem worthy of emulation. But many of them are, and their commitment to character and honor in every circumstance is often beautifully summed up by their behavior in conflict. For all our love of shadows and hidden meanings, we're a race that thrives best on plain speech and plain deeds.
Perhaps this is why we always associate military men with strength and fortitude. The best of them are immovable in their convictions, resolute in their execution of duty, and intractable in their loyalty. Of course, the worst of them are vindictive, traitorous, and carnal, but that doesn't mean they can't offer valuable lessons—those lessons are just more negative and cautionary.
The English have Nelson, Americans have Washington and Lee, the French have Joan of Arc, Mongolians have Ghengis Khan: there isn't a culture that doesn't have brave leaders to admire. We believe strong military heroes are excellent models for our children, especially our boys, and with that in mind we've selected quite a few biographical titles to teach, delight, and guide.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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