Book Reviews

Reviews of books by MWSA members. Reviews appear in reverse chronological order, with the most recent review posted appearing first.
Note: Some older reviews are being reposted to this site and those will appear out of order.

Cat Lo, A Memoir of Invincible Youth

Title: Cat Lo, A Memoir of Invincible Youth
Author: Virg Irwin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): ISBN / EAN

Cat Lo is a story of young men who volunteer for Swift Boats in Vietnam and about war's indelible lesson for those who survive: life is too precious to waste.
Thirty-six years after Vietnam, Virg Erwin sits with a disfigured marine convalescing from Iraq and asks, "Do you want to talk about it?" It is a question no one has ever asked Erwin. "It was hard to know who were civilians--who were bad guys," the marine says as he describes being caught in a violent ambush.
For Erwin, the marine's story resurrects memories of sailors patrolling narrow rivers and canals, their naive sense of invincibility shattered by Viet Cong patiently waiting in bunkers with rockets. Cat Lo is about conflict of compassion for the South Vietnamese who are caught in the middle of war without option of neutrality, and confusion by the question: Who is the enemy and who is not?

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Irwin, Virg

French Letters, Book One Virginia's War: Tierra, Texas 1944

Title: French Letters, Book One Virginia's War: Tierra, Texas 1944
Author: Jack Woodville London
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Claudia Pemberton

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0981597505

French Letters: Virginia's War is a poignant novel that earned uncommon critical acclaim, being named a finalist for "Best Novel of the South," an award given by the Anderson Foundation in honor of Willie Morris and a finalist for the Military Writers Society of America award for Best Historical Novel of the Year.
This first book of the French Letters trilogy is the tale of one woman's home front experience, set against the back drop of the story of a small town that has plenty going on behind the scenes. It was there one morning that an unexpectedly pregnant Virginia Sullivan read in her father's newspaper that she had supposedly eloped with a soldier. This is news to Virginia, not to mention her "husband" Will Hastings, who was already off at war and knows nothing of it.
Sullivan is the daughter of a small town's leading figure, a newspaper owner who, because of his knowledge of everyone's personal business, runs the local black market in ration coupons and hard-to-get tires and gasoline, and sister of Bart, a draft dodger who runs the post office while keeping her mail from going or coming and preventing Will Hastings, the lead figure in French Letters: Engaged in War, from knowing that Virginia is pregnant or that her father has published a phony story.
There may be a World War going on thousands of miles away, but there's plenty going on behind the scenes in Tierra, TX to keep Virginia preoccupied.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
London, Jack Woodville

Hollywood Buzz: A Pucci Lewis Mystery

Title: Hollywood Buzz: A Pucci Lewis Mystery
Author: Margit Liesche
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Claudia Pemberton

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1590585798

Pucci Lewis was used to ferrying fighter planes and undercover work. But it's the dark hours of WWII, and Hollywood's biggest stars, studio moguls, and Washington bureaucrats are working hand-in-glove to merge entertainment and propaganda. Pucci has been dispatched to the First Motion Picture Unit, where a make-or-break documentary on the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) is underway.

Pucci is stepping in for a sister-WASP, now hospitalized in critical condition after an all-too-deliberate plane crash. But who's the saboteur? Why the cover-up? Pucci is drawn into a high-profile homicide. A big-name director has been murdered, possibly by Nazi operatives. Military intelligence wants Pucci to learn what she can from her inside position.

Bela Lugosi is a frequent visitor to the Beverly Hills mansion where Pucci is temporarily billeted. His "niece," a rising starlet and also the housekeeper, has a history with the Hungarian resistance. But Pucci doesn't trust the girl.

Can Pucci steadfastly maneuver through movie land and its narcissistic denizens, finally unraveling the uncertainties to prove she has the right stuff?

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Liesche, Margit

Final Salute: Together We Live On, The

Title: The Final Salute: Together We Live On
Author: Kathleen Rodgers
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): ISBN / EAN

At a small air base in Louisiana, family man and seasoned fighter pilot, Tuck Westerfield's life could literally crash down around him. In this business of flying fighter jets, the odds of staying alive are stacked against him.

Haunted by the memories of dead friends killed in air mishaps, this Vietnam vet and father of three must deal with a devious commander, an animal-crazed neighbor, whose husband hates pilots, a beautiful, but suspicious wife and a rebellious teenage daughter. The last thing he needs is another war.

But when Iraq invades Kuwait in the middle of a muggy Louisiana summer, duty calls. Tuck and the other pilots in his squadron head to the Middle East.

Back in Louisiana, Gina Westerfield and other military wives learn that war is hell on the home front, too.

Later, when tragedy strikes, everyone at Beauregard Air Force Base must pull together and live on or forever be consumed with grief.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Rodgers, Kathleen

True Colors

Title: True Colors
Author: Erin Rainwater
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0741430746

Cassie Golden feels called to leave her safe but lonely Pennsylvania farm to tend the Union wounded in Alexandria, Virginia. Love and conspiratorial intrigue enter her life there, both arriving in the form of an intelligence officer, Major Michael Byron. When duty sends him away, Cassie becomes unwittingly enmeshed in a mosaic of espionage, kidnapping, imprisonment and murder. Their unanticipated reunion only creates a chasm between them as sweeping as the one dividing the nation. Only the truth can bridge such a chasm. And truth is in short supply.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Rainwater, Erin

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