Sergeant Nibley, PhD: Memories of an Unlikely Screaming Eagle

Alex Nibley has taken his training as a playwright and filmmaker to bring readers an important book about his father’s wartime memoirs as well as the larger context of war and its meaning. The format of the book is unusual; it reads like a screenplay or a documentary film that has been maneuvered and cajoled onto paper. Readers are guided in such a way that the authors’ voices are interrupted often in order to bring attention to ancillary material. Some may find this interweaving of several narratives frustrating, but if readers are patient, they will be rewarded.

A highlight of the book is Alex Nibley’s solid sense for story structure and form. It is refreshing to find creative use of literary devices in a history book. There is exposition, development, foreshadowing, and a recapitulation of earlier philosophical themes that punctuates the contradictions of war. This structure successfully heightens emotion in a way that the pages of a well-crafted book of fiction might.

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