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Do you read Alan Furst? His books are basically spy novels taken to a new level, and you quickly realize there was so much more going on behind the scenes in the years leading up to WW II than you'll ever find in a history book. But what makes him such a good read is his ability with time and place. Never have the grand old cities of Europe been so deliciously illustrated in words.

Also, "My Queer War," by James Lord, a memoir published posthumously a year or so ago, is a real eye-opener. He manages to meld the absurdities of a life in wartime with its ultimate horrors, and most tellingly, lifts the veil of secrecy from the important and unacknowledged role of gay men in our military history. In this account, gay soldiering doesn't sound so bad after all. The reality has always been that, once you're on the ground, in the eyes of the military machine a soldier is a soldier and nobody much cares who's gay and who's not.

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