Lee Sandlin
Reification - Belles Lettres
Reification - Belles Lettres
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The New Kings of Nonfiction

Kirkus Reviews: “A wholly satisfying greatest-hits collection of nonfiction. ... The most rewarding selection is Lee Sandlin’s ‘Losing the War,’ a 1997 long-form think-piece from The Chicago Reader in which he forces readers to acknowledge all over again what most World War II books and films try to make us forget: what an absolutely miserable, pointless, blundering, screaming bloody hell it was.” Full review

Time Out Chicago: “... Lee Sandlin’s ‘Losing the War’, considered one of the Chicago Reader’s best cover stories, retells the epic of World War II as a Möbius strip of coincidence, error, misinformation and the inability of anybody -- save combat veterans -- to truly comprehend the nature of battle.” Full review

Vail Daily: “It is Lee Sandlin’s account of people’s perceptions of war in ‘Losing the War,’ and Dan Savage’s terrifically humorous account of his foray as a gay sex-advice columnist in the Republican Party in ‘My Republican Journey,’ that should be used as benchmarks for truly excellent nonfiction writing. Interesting topics, intelligent delivery, and at least some sort of underlying theme, if not a purpose, are what sets these pieces apart... ” Full review

New Haven Review: “Lee Sandlin’s ‘Losing the War,’ which originally appeared in the Chicago Reader ... is a classic essay, easily better than most of what appears in any magazine in the United States. ... It’s a meditation about our historical memory of World War II: how war fever made it impossible for even great reporters to write accurately about the war then, and how historians have failed to find the language to write about it since.” Full review

Goodreads: “I guarantee that at least one of these stories will alter your ideas about the way the world is organized; for me, it was Malcolm Gladwell's and Lawrence Weschler's pieces about how the social universe is really put together, and Lee Sandlin's absolutely essential piece about the true character and progression of the second world war. ... ” Blog post

mlarson.org - This is What I Like: “ ‘Losing the War’ is easily my favorite work in the book (made obvious by the dog-ears). And I tend to have severe World War II nausea, so I was surprised to like it so much. Lee Sandlin explores the ‘collective anxiety attack’ of the war, the impressions of the war that Americans got through the weak, cheerful reporting from the frontlines, and how we remember and how we forget. Highly recommended.” Blog post

Radiation Vibe: “For an advanced degree in Sandlin awesomeness, read ‘Losing the War.’ It’s an investigation into war and its place in the collective memory, which pulls together autobiography, WWII reportage, Norse myths, movies, WWI memoirs. It’s sweeping and masterfully organized while remaining compelling on a word to word basis -- a virtuoso performance, one of the best essays I’ve ever read.” Blog post

Editor Ira Glass writes: This story is “about what it is that makes wartime different and about the particular psychology of being at war. It was a massive historical article, exhaustively researched. Sandlin was interested in World War II -- in why it’d been forgotten -- and in what exactly had been forgotten. ... He is attempting to redefine everything we think about World War II and all other wars as well.”