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.

Left for Dead: A Second Life after Vietnam

Title: Left for Dead: A Second Life after Vietnam
Author: John Hovde, Maureen Anderson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0816646244

Jon Hovde's journey begins with despair and the struggle to stay alive and ends with hope and the inspiration to live. As a twenty-year-old soldier in Vietnam, Hovde lost an arm and a leg when the armored personnel carrier he was driving hit an antitank mine. He was nearly left for dead when the medic at the scene accidentally took his pulse in the arm that had been severed. For weeks, doctors gave Hovde very little chance of survival. When Hovde finally returned home, the transition was not easy. He used alcohol and fast cars to cope with both the physical pain of his injuries and the emotional pain caused by uneasy stares from his friends and neighbors. The straightforward words of a highway patrolman finally opened his eyes to his reckless behavior: "Why would a guy like you, who's survived all you survived, want to come back and kill yourself on our highway?" Hovde went on to marry his high school sweetheart, realize a successful business career, and become a leader of city and state school boards. In 1998, Hovde's war story found some closure when he successfully tracked down and was reunited with the nurse who had helped save his life. He was finally able to thank her. Left for Dead is a gripping memoir that not only recounts Hovde's remarkable recovery from his injuries, but recognizes the efforts of the people who aided him - including the courageous medic who rescued him, a caring army nurse, and army chaplains. Far more than just another tale of combat, Left for Dead will stir emotions in veterans, the families of veterans, and civilians alike. Hovde's lack of bitterness and abundance of hope is a source of inspiration to anyone overcoming obstacles.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Hovde, John
Anderson, Maureen

Don’t Mean Nothing

Title: Don’t Mean Nothing
Author: Susan O'Neil
Genre: Fiction, Collection
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0982546270

In this debut fiction collection--the first by a nurse who served in Viet Nam--Susan O'Neill offers a glimpse into the war from a female perspective. These stories are about women, and men, who served in three combat hospitals in 1969 and 1970. They are interconnected, peopled by one-time "stars" and recurring characters, and they deal both with both the minutia of everyday life in wartime, and grander, more over-reaching themes--love and loss, faith and despair, morality, futility, military idiosyncrasy, magic, and the cost to the soul of a year in war's very particular hell. The stories are purely fictional, yet based loosely on the author's experiences, and they are laced as liberally with black humor as with pathos.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
O'Neil, Susan

Chopper: A History of America Military Helicopter Operations from WWII to the War on Terror

Title: Chopper: A History of America Military Helicopter Operations from WWII to the War on Terror
Author: Bob Dorr
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B000IMV8A6

Real-life stories from the pilots and the passengers.

From its first use in military operations, during a rescue mission behind enemy lines in 1944, to its crucial role in Vietnam, to the Black Hawk combat copters in the current war on terror, the helicopter changed the face of aviation-and the face of warfare. Whether they are bringing supplies and medical help or coming to the rescue of trapped soldiers, the modern battlefield could not function without them.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Dorr, Bob

Poems in the Keys of Life: Reflections of a Combat Medic

Title: Poems in the Keys of Life: Reflections of a Combat Medic
Author: Kerry "Doc" Pardue
Genre: Poetry, Book of Poetry
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1413771947

I have been many things over the past 57 years of my life. I have been a brother, son, friend, husband, father, soldier, medic, police officer, detective, letter carrier, college recruiter, grandfather, and now, poet. These poems are a reflective journey to find healing after the war in Vietnam. Thirty-five years ago I was a combat medic. When I came home, I was determined to put Vietnam behind me. Somehow, deep within my heart, soul, and spirit, Vietnam was a part of who and what I became. Finally, my journey to healing began, and these poems are the result of that journey, 35 years later. They will make you cry, laugh, and appreciate friendships. They are my road map to a place I call home. I only hope that other soldiers, medics, nurses, and doctors will be able to find a way to their home. So grab a beverage and curl up and join with me on the journey together as we find peace, hope, friendships, love and yes, even healing.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Pardue, Kerry "Doc"

Surviving Deployment

Title: Surviving Deployment
Author: Karen Pavlicin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reference
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0965748367

As part of today's active duty or reserve forces, your loved one may be called to war, peacekeeping missions, anti-terrorism campaigns, field exercises, disaster relief, and many other duties far from home--and you.
Surviving Deployment is your personal guide to turning an otherwise lonely and challenging situation into a positive experience.

Learn what to expect, how to prepare, and how to personally grow as individuals and families. Your survival gear will range from a sturdy toilet plunger to the fine art of letter writing. You'll manage financial changes, help children express their feelings, and discover a renewed appreciation for everyday life.

Solid information. Practical checklists. Personal stories from hundreds of families.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Pavlicin, Karen

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