Behind the Lines of Jihad: One Journalist’s Fascinating Account

The next book club meeting will be on Thursday March 28 at 5:30 in room 301 of the Schurz Library to discuss I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet. The author is a correspondent for the Washington Post and reports for several other national and intentional publications on terrorism. In this memoir, she does a masterful job of integrating her experience as a journalist, a Muslim, a European and a woman. This book was included in a number of national ‘best books of 2017’ lists. ​


“All Muslims should be united, yes.” He sipped his tea. “First Palestine was taken from us.  Then they gave Iraq to the Shia and Iran.  Every Muslim understands that only a caliphate with a strong leader can protect them.”

If you would like a copy of the book, contact Vicki Bloom, Dean of Library Services at  Please feel free to share information with others who might be interested. All are welcome.


Photograph by Müller-Stauffenberg / Ullstein Bild via Getty


Discussion Questions: All Quiet on the Western Front – Jan 31

allquietmovieThe book compellingly describes the stark divide between the front lines and the home front in a war that ended over 100 years ago. How relevant and how accurate do you find those depictions today? Does the stark psychological divide between soldiers and civilians continue today? In what ways?

 The book was an international bestseller, including in Germany where it was first published in 1929. Yet it was banned there by the Nazis after Hitler assumed power in 1933. Why do you think that was?

 Why do you think that this book, with its focus on the German perspective in WWI, remains so popular today?


January 2019: All Quiet on the Western Front

Our next Veterans Book Club selection, All Quiet on the Western Front, is considered by many the greatest war novel of all time. Its themes of the horror and brutality of war, and its effect on soldiers are universal. Written by German war veteran, Erich Maria Remarque, this book book sold out on the first day of its release!  It was also banned and burned during the Nazi Germany regime.

Read this fascinating novel and join us on Thursday, January 31 at 5:30 in Room 301 of the Schurz Library.  You do not have to be a veteran or family of a veteran to join.  EVERYONE is welcome. Our discussion will the led by Associate professor of German, Dr. Jeffrey Luppes.  Copies of All Quiet on the Western Front can be obtained by contacting Rhonda Culbertson at  


Here, Bullet Discussion Questions

From Kelcey Ervick, Associate Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing who will be facilitating the Nov. 6th book discussion:

This book includes Arabic language as well as military terminology. How does language help us communicate but also create distance between people and cultures?

 Turner includes many animals in his poems. We don’t usually think much of the presence of animals with respect to war. What do you think of these references?

 What do you think of Turner’s descriptions and portrayals of bodies, the way he zooms in on individual parts?  How does war affect the body?

 Turner’s book has been praised for its representation of Iraqis and its emphasis on the humanity of all the people affected by and participating in the war. How does he do this? Why is it important?

 How does this book shape your way of thinking about war, combat, and military experiences? What role can poetry in general play in relation to war? 

Fall 2018 Events

The IU South Bend Veterans Book Club has three events planned this semester, some of which focus on the transitioning of veterans to campus life.  Please consider joining us for new insights and lively conversation.  Student veterans, faculty and others from campus and the community interested in veterans experiences are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.  To RSVP, or for more information on any of these events, please contact Rhonda Culbertson, or Vicki Bloom,

1st meeting: Film Screening (70 minutes)
Friday, October 26, 1:00pm, UCET classroom, Northside 245   afterthewar

The War After: The Challenging Transition from Active Duty to Civilian Life

View this insightful documentary featuring nine diverse U.S. veterans transitioning from active duty to the highs and lows of forging their independent identities in a large liberal university. The film was directed and produced by award winning filmmaker Dena Seidel in collaboration with Rutgers Film Bureau Productions. The film is available through the Kanopy streaming movie database on the IU South Bend Libraries website.

2nd meeting – Poetry Book Discussion
​Tuesday, November 6, 5:30 pm, Schurz Library, 3rd floor conference room herebullet2

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

Brian Turner is an Iraq veteran and soldier-poet whose poetry of witness is exceptional for its beauty, honesty, and skill.  This collection won the Beatrice Hawley award for poetry.  The discussion will be led by author and IU South Bend Creative Writing professor, Kelcey Ervick. Copies of the book are available to be checked out at the Schurz Library (call number PS3620.U763 H47 2005) or by contacting Vicki Bloom at

3rd meeting – Panel discussion with student veterans and faculty
Friday, November 9, 1:30pm, UCET classroom, Northside 245

veteransbookPreparing Your Campus for Veteran Success:  An Approach to Facilitating the Transition and Persistence of Military Students by Bruce C. Kelley, Justin M. Smith, and Ernetta L. Fox.

Engage with fellow faculty and a panel of student veterans about effective ways to teach and connect with student veterans. Using the book as a guide, the panel will touch upon ways to build on student veterans strengths while mitigating some of the barriers that contribute to their lower persistence and academic success. The discussion will be facilitated by Rhiannon Carlson (Office of Veteran Student Services Coordinator/Counselor) and John Thompson (Lecturer, Raclin School of the Arts), both veterans themselves and advocates for veteran’s concerns.  The e-book can be accessed through IUCAT, the online catalog.  The discussion will focus on section 3,  Innovative Approaches to Serving Veterans in the Classroom of the book.

Next book: War is the Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges

hedgesJoin us on April 4th in the 3rd floor conference room of the Schurz Library at 5:30pm to discuss this tour de force!

Some discussion questions include:

  1. Do you accept Hedges’ suggestion that war is inevitable?
  2. Hedges stresses the importance of the first death, the first atrocity in the prelude to a war, quoting Elias Canetti who wrote, “It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened” (144). Why is the first death, the first battle or atrocity, so important? Why is it often difficult later to go back and examine what initially led to a war?
  3. The concept of the protection of the dead in war, and the importance of a proper burial are discussed several times throughout the book. Why are these concepts important?
  4. Hedges believes that “the only antidote to ward off self-destruction and the indiscriminate use of force is humility and, ultimately, compassion” [p. 17]. In what ways has America moved away from these virtues in the past decade? How can
    humility and compassion, individually and collectively, restrain nations from going to war? Why is it so difficult, and so important, to feel compassion for one’s enemies? What memorable examples of compassion does the book provide?
  5. Hedges writes that the deadly attraction of war is that “even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living” [p. 3]. At the end of the book, he writes that love “alone gives us meaning that endures” [p. 184–85]. How can we ensure that love, rather than war,
    remains the force that gives meaning to our lives?
  6. Is Hedges a victim of war? Has been affected even more deeply that he lets on in the book? Did his position as a journalist shield him from certain aspects of war that soldiers face, or was he affected in the same way?

Book Club questions for Feb. 8

Prof. of History Tom Murphy will be sharing some visual aids and starting off our conversation on Thursday with the following questions:

  • ​Why does a book about the end of the World War I focus on the war itself?

    Henry Gunther
  • Why do we care about Henry Gunther’s death?
  • Why did the fighting continue until 11 am on November 11?
  • What do we learn about World War I?  Why are stories from the war so compelling?
  • What elements of the war interested you?  Which people?
  • What repercussions of the Great War continue to affect world conflicts and politics today?

Feb 8th at 5:30 — Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918 World War I and Its Violent Climax

An eye-opening study of the final hours of a war that threatened never to end.

Kirkus Review

Book club meeting:   Thursday, Feb 8th at 5:30 in the Fireside room off of the Grill in the IU South Bend Administration Building. 

Author Joseph E. Persico reconstructs the activities of the British and American troops on the final morning of WWI, along with the reprise of the major aspects of the war that led up to that eventful day. This book was selected to marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War.


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Please note that the IU South Bend Libraries has several films related to this topic, including: 

The Last Day of World War I by  A&E Television Networks, LLC. URL [South Bend] 

New York, N.Y. : Films Media Group, [2010], c2004. (44 minutes) The final hour and day of World War I – 11 o’clock on November 11, 1918 – were decided upon well in advance. Why, then, were more than 13,000 soldiers killed that last morning of the war? Based on Joseph E. Persico’s book 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour, this A&E Special reveals how Allied leaders found outrageous excuses to send thousands of soldiers to their deaths against a defeated enemy. Why did they do it? Rare footage and photos from the conflict’s last hours form a chilling indictment of the horror and pointlessness of war.

The last day of World War One by John Hayes Fisher. URL [Bloomington, Columbus, East, IUPUI, Kokomo, Northwest, South Bend, Southeast];1522729 (Available on campus and off campus with authorized logon)  

London, England : British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 2008. (50 minutes) On a windswept hill in Northern France , stands one of the great memorials to the dead from the first World War. It was a war which affected almost every family in Britain. But even after the armistice was signed on November the 11th, 1918 , the terrible reality was that soldiers continue to be killed in battle. This is the story of how the war which was meant to end all wars, finally came to a close.


Anatomy of a Soldier – November 7th (note: change of date)


There will be a change of venue for our next meeting!  On Tuesday evening at 5:30 we will be gathering in the 3rd floor conference room 301 at the IU South Bend Franklin D. Schurz Library.   

We will be discussing, Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker.  This novel takes a unique conceit of being told entirely from the perspective of 45 inanimate objects that play a role in the story of a soldier seriously injured by an IED.  The novelist, Harry Parker, is a British soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan.  He has since completed a postgraduate degree in fine art at the Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch.  An article about the author can be found at:

Rodger Pinto, the campus President of the Student Veterans Organization will lead our discussion.  His insights will give us a deeper understanding of a more recent conflict.