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.

Jackie O: On the Couch

Title: Jackie O: On the Couch
Author: Alma Bond
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Joyce Gilmour

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

Jackie O: On the Couch is the story of Jackie Kennedy Onassis as she might have written it.

This is not just another biography. For the first time, Jackie O: On the Couch highlights Jackie's life from her own perspective, as imagined by author Dr. Alma Bond, a psychoanalyst and long-time student of Jackie lore.

The facts are all historically correct, as are the ideas, the Washington intrigue and politics, and the examination of the role of women in society and in the White House. Jackie speaks of her need to record her story truthfully--to replace the hodgepodge of lies published during her lifetime. Speaking as an older woman, she ponders how her points of view have changed from those she held when she was young.

The book delves into her childhood and explores how and why Jackie became the person she was. It also explores the Kennedys, and how John F. Kennedy's background affected his marriage. Jackie's deep love for Jack, his early inattentiveness, their difficulties together, his outrageous womanizing, happy times at the White House, and the tragedy of his assassination-all are viewed through Jackie's eyes.

Jackie writes of her need for Aristotle Onassis, debunking the notion that she married him purely for his money, and traces the joyful early years of the marriage through to its dramatic collapse and Ari's difficult death.

A different Jackie emerges into the world of publishing. Her new persona allows her to establish her very best relationship with the stout and adoring Maurice Tempelsman, until non-Hodgkins lymphoma takes her life in 1994, at age 64.

Jackie O: On the Couch is a unique exploration of the life and loves of a great historical figure. Jackie Kennedy Onassis deeply prized her privacy and, as a result, she was both revered and mysterious

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Bond, Alma

Lady Gangster: A Sailor's Memoir, The

Title: The Lady Gangster: A Sailor's Memoir
Author: Del Staecker
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: John Cathcart

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1934980226

The true story of WWII's most amazing ship and her unique crew of 327 reservists from Chicago.

In a seamless blend of oral history, narrative, biography, autobiography, journal entries, ships logs, action reports, newspaper articles, illustrations, photos, and even two poems - the Lady Gangster's tale explains how the "Chicago Boys" transformed from raw naval recruits into veteran "Salts."
From the North Atlantic through nine invasions in the Pacific the crew of the USS Fuller heroically earned for their Lady the title of "Queen of Attack Transports

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Staecker, Del

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

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