United States Air Force Academy

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Common Reading Program

One Book, One USAFA

Cadet holding book

Since 2020, the U.S. Air Force Academy has selected a book as part of its common reading program, One Book, One USAFA. This creates a sense of community among the incoming basic cadets through the shared experience of reading a book carefully chosen by the Dean of the Faculty.

The book is promoted throughout the year and various departments incorporate topics from the book into their academic lessons; not only allowing cadets to connect with each other, but with the Academy as a whole.

Books that are selected for the program speak broadly to the incoming cadets and to the goals of creating leaders of character, exploring the depths of the human condition, navigating nuance and ambiguity, honing critical thinking skills, and developing empathy and understanding of other positions and cultures.

The program goes beyond the incoming class. Each year’s selection is widely accessible and available at both the McDermott and Community Center libraries enabling upperclassmen, faculty, staff, and parents to participate in the program, moving it out of the classroom and creating a bridge to the campus and external communities.

This year’s book

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

A Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of sacrifice and redemption during World War II. This meticulously researched novel raises important questions about the fragmentation caused by war, the ambiguity of human life, and the beauty of the world around us, even in tragedy. In choosing this novel, One Book, One USAFA invites cadets and faculty to join in a shared conversation about drawing borders, choosing sides, and offering forgiveness as they journey with Doerr through a fraught, war-torn landscape.

Previous books

Attitude and Other Stories
by Linda Nagata

Attitude and Other Stories brings together select military and near-future science fiction tales by award-winning author Linda Nagata. These stories embrace action and harrowing adventure across high-tech battlefields and surreal other worlds—while also exploring the complex landscapes of the human heart. Through these stories we explore the temptations, hazards, conflicts, challenges, and possibilities that might lie just over the horizon.

They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei

In his graphic memoir actor and activist George Takei explores his childhood experiences imprisoned within an American internment camp during World War II. Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up in an uncertain future, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What does it mean to be American?

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

Twenty years after a devastating flu pandemic ended civilization, Kirsten Raymonde moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony and are dedicated to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. When they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who threatens the band’s existence.