By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
Here are three books I hope you found under your Christmas tree. The first two are reprints, and while they are not gun-related, they are will cause you to lose track of time. Both are in print, and pretty widely available. The third book is brand spanking new.
The Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer (a pen name) is the story of an Alsatian teenager who was drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to fight in the Soviet Union. He managed to survive that disaster as well as the retreat to Germany. By a series of miracles he made it home, where he was presumed dead. Doubts have been raised about the book's authenticity, but the U.S. Army War College has it on their reading list, and that's good enough for me.
The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz (his real name). The story of a Polish cavalry officer who was captured by the Soviet Army in 1940, taken for a spy, sent to Moscow and subjected to a year's fun and games with the NKVD. Shipped to a prison camp in Siberia, Rawicz and six fellow prisoners escaped in the dead of winter and, over two years, walked from Siberia, across the Gobi Desert, over the Himalayas, and into India, where they were rescued ed by the British Army.
If you'd like to find out just how much men can endure without going mad or giving up and dying, these two books are good sources.
The Field & Stream Hunting Optics Handbook, by Thomas McIntyre
It's hard to make the subject of optics comprehensible, much less interesting, so imagine a book on the subject that is actually entertaining. Tom Mcintyre, whose immense, hyper-educated brain is packed with all sorts of odd information (and who has done one hell of a lot of hunting), has managed to combine loads of useful knowledge and all kinds of weird but fascinating intel on optics-related subjects.
An example: At the massacre at Wounded Knee, the bodies of the Sioux were searched by 7th Cavalry troopers, and on one of the dead warriors was found the binoculars carried by Lt/Col George Armstrong Custer at The Colossal Miscalculation at the Little Bighorn. In 2005, these glasses were auctioned for $56,625, working out, as Tom puts it, to slightly less than $100 per life, counting both the Greasy Grass and Wounded Knee. If you can resist stuff like this you have a heart of stone, and maybe a brain of stone, too.
The book is $20. wwwLyonsPress.com