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.

Simple Survival A Family Outdoors Guide

Title: Simple Survival A Family Outdoors Guide
Author: Gary L. Benton
Genre: Non-Fiction, How-To
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0983042993

Gary Benton has previously authored twelve books of fiction, non-fiction, and Southern humor. Such notable authors as, Matt Braun, Stephen Lodge, Don Bendell, actor James Drury and many others have endorsed his work. This survival book, "Simple Survival, a Family Outdoors Guide," is a Silver Award Winner from the Military Writers Society of America. Gary spent over 23 years on active duty in the United States Air Force and retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. Years of wilderness outdoor skills are in this book, along with survival tips. Learn survival so during the next natural disaster or terrorist attack you and your family can survive! Learn to survive with just a survival knife and a little survival gear, or with a survival kit. Survival is simple, using Gary's skills, and anyone can become a survivor! Take this book along during your next camping trip or use it when facing a real emergency and learn survival of the fittest! Survive the simple way, the Simple Survival way. Become a survivor!

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Benton, Gary L.

Fire from the Sky: A Diary Over Japan

Title: Fire from the Sky: A Diary Over Japan
Author: Ron Greer, Mike Wicks
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0976871203

"May 26, 1945 target Tokyo; the target was the eastern part of the industrial section of Tokyo. It was hot as hell too, because the Japanese were waiting for us. We went into the target individually and as we made our sweep, one Jap twin-engine fighter was waiting about 20 miles off the coast and followed us over the target. Flak was very heavy and searchlights were estimated at about 400 in number in the Tokyo area. We were in the searchlights all the way through the target. Losses were estimated to be about 18 B-29's. One crew came back with the tail almost shot off and the tail gunner had been killed instantly. On both raids the industrial centers we hit had an estimated civilian population of 50,000 to 75,000 people per square mile area. Fires started by the incendiary bombs covered 10 square miles and could be seen 200 miles out to sea."

If this dialog sounds like a plot from a war movie it well could be, however the account consists of the bombing mission quotes taken directly from the diary of S/Sgt Herb Greer, Radio operator on a B-29 Superfortress named the "City of Monroe" during the war with Japan. The diary takes each of the 28 missions flown by the B-29 "City of Monroe" one by one and details those events as they happened over Japan. The accounts are filled with such phrases as "Great Fires, clouds of thick black smoke, horrific smells meaning flesh burning, which permeated the aircraft over the target area and lingered until they landed some 8 to 10 hours later on Guam. Bombing missions were repeated until most of the industrial areas of Japans major cities were nothing but ashes. The final days were approaching when Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be devastated with the two atomic bombs. The gentleman that I speak of is my father, Herbert L. Greer and this is a book of his diary, supplemental comments and pictures that reflect on a period of time that the United States freedom and liberty were highly at risk.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Greer, Ron
Wicks, Mike

Thousand Tears Falling: The True Story of a Vietnamese Family Torn Apart by War, Communism, and the CIA, A

Title: A Thousand Tears Falling: The True Story of a Vietnamese Family Torn Apart by War, Communism, and the CIA
Author: Yung Krall
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1563522314

In 1977, a woman called "Keyseat" arrived in Paris with 49 classified U.S. documents. Two days later, Hanoi representatives to the Paris Peace Talks possessed the documents, believing that Keyseat, whose father was a Viet Cong official, was their agent. In the United States in 1982, the Vietnam era's only convicted spies, antiwar activist David Truong and USIA officer Ronald Humphrey, were sentenced for document theft. The main U.S. witness was Keyseat, both a CIA and FBI agent. Yung (then Dung Krall) was Keyseat. Her memoir juxtaposes two phases of her unusual life: her early years in South Vietnam and her adult time as a U.S. Navy wife and career espionage agent. She also provides unique details of village and family customs, patiently describing her childhood, revealing the pain she suffered in a family split by ideology. Yung, anti-Communist from childhood, who shared her mother's views, was also a daughter of Dang Quang Minh, the Viet Cong's ambassador to the Soviet Union, whose life was threatened by his daughter's testimony. Yung led a fast-paced life that in its details rivals spy thriller fiction. A recommended first-person account for larger public collections.
Margaret W. Norton, J. Sterling Morton H.S., Berwyn, Ill.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Krall, Yung

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