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.

Sea of Shadows

Title: Sea of Shadows (formerly Topedo)
Author: Jeff Edwards
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0983008507

For fans of Tom Clancy, Joe Buff, and Dale Brown…


A minor accident at a German nuclear power plant, a Biological Warfare attack on the British Embassy in Washington, DC, and a secret arms deal combine to drive a trusted NATO Ally into an illegal alliance with a rogue Middle Eastern state. With the world hovering on the brink of war, a handful of U.S. Navy warships must track down and destroy a wolfpack of state-of-the-art submarines.

Their enemy is skilled in deception, and incredibly lethal. Out-gunned, out-maneuvered, and out-thought, the U.S. Navy crews must throw the rulebook out the window, and become every bit as devious and deadly as their enemy.

If they fail, the consequences are unthinkable…

“A timeless warrior epic. Jeff Edwards spins a stunning and irresistibly-believable tale of savage modern naval combat.” — JOE BUFF, Bestselling author of ‘SEAS OF CRISIS,’ and ‘CRUSH DEPTH’

“Edwards wields politics and naval combat tactics with a skill equal to the acknowledged masters of military fiction.” — THE MILITARY PRESS

“… as close as you can get to naval surface combat without being shot at. Jeff Edwards has penned a fast, no-holds-barred thriller that never lets up. Highly recommended.” — JACK DuBRUL, Bestselling author of ‘THE SILENT SEA,’ and ‘HAVOC’

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Edwards, Jeff

Enemy Within: One Vietnam Veteran Helps Others Cope with PTSD, The

Title: The Enemy Within: One Vietnam Veteran Helps Others Cope with PTSD
Author: Gregory Helle
Genre: Non-Fiction, How To
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1418410977

Why would you want to read this book? There are several reasons. First of all, it is my hope that victims of all types of traumas, whether war-related or not, can find some comfort in these pages. If you are a victim of PTSD, you need to know that there is hope for a better quality of life. That is one of the core messages in this book. There is no cure for PTSD, but through medications and counseling, it is possible to exercise more control over the illness. But you must take the first step and be your own best advocate. You will hear me say this more than once. If you do not advocate for your own needs, it is unlikely that you will achieve your goals. I hope that some of the information in these pages will guide PTSD victims to seek the help they need. I feel this book also has much to offer those who don't suffer from PTSD. It is the story of how a normal eighteen-year-old farm boy from a small town in Iowa went to war and, over thirty years later - at the age of fifty-two - became totally disabled with PTSD. It is my hope that this will help the public understand not only Vietnam vets, but also vets from all wars, as well as victims of other traumas such as I mentioned above. There are so many fears that hold PTSD victims back from seeking help or even admitting to themselves that they need help. Even though all those around them can see the changes in the victim, it is hard for the victim to admit a problem. They see themselves as having some kind of mental illness. Victims are often paranoid and worry about what others are thinking or saying about them, even those people who have no inkling that there is a problem. Sometimes, it can seem to the victim that everyone knows there is something wrong, and that everyone is talking about him or her. The public must become aware of the disease and offer compassion rather than rebuke. Vietnam vets in particular have been a source of fear in the general public. The media has exacerbated this situation by its frequent portrayal of the vet as an imbalanced, rage-filled time bomb, just waiting for the circumstances that will set him off. Perhaps this has made for some "entertaining" movies, but it has also kept many veterans from seeking the help they needed, lest they find themselves branded with this ugliest of clichés. Even if the victim knows there is a problem, it is so difficult to ask for help, especially from a government that loaths to acknowledge the existence - much less, the debilitating nature - of this disorder. It should come as no surprise, then, that many victims do not want anyone to know about their "weakness." Very simply, it is time to end the silence and the shame. I realize that parts of this book will be difficult for the public to read. Reading a true account is not at all the same as watching violence on TV or at the movies. In these situations, the dead are not really dead and the cast is not really experiencing the events being portrayed. It is much more difficult when the dead stay dead, bodies are permanently mutilated, and the effects of the war will stay forever with those who experienced them. . The violence presented in modern entertainment should be taken as it is intended (though sometimes the level of violence in our "entertainment" is disturbing). True violence should be taken very seriously because it can happen to any one of us - at war or at home. Where a particularly violent movie can leave one unsettled for a day or so, actually living through a violent situation can produce a nightmare that lasts a lifetime. I do not intend for this book to be political, nor do I want it to be an attack on the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). However, I do believe that the policies enacted by the government have played a significant part in weaving the intricate web of my life. Nor do I intend this to be a self-help book.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Helle, Gregory A.

Dustoff No Compromise! No Rationalization! No Hesitation! Fly the Mission!

Title: Dustoff No Compromise! No Rationalization! No Hesitation! Fly the Mission!
Author: Steve Vermillion
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0974125601

Dustoff is a compliation of stories regarding my experiences flying a US Army unarmed medical evacuation helicopter in Vietnam during 1969. This book has a touch of history on the development of helicopter aeromedical evacuation system but primarily focuses on my experiences as a pilot as well as how we interacted as a crew. One of the stories is nearly a duplicate of one of the night non-secure hoist missions that we recorded using a cassette tape recorder connected into our avionics harness.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Vermillion, Steve

Love & Duty

Title: Love & Duty
Authors: Ben and Anne Purcell
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0312928904

A POW and his wife recall the desperation and courage that marked his five-year captivity in North Vietnam, revealing how both husband and wife were able to remain hopeful despite a seemingly hopeless situation.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Purcell, Ben
Purcell, Anne

River of Memories - An Appalachian Boyhood

Title: River of Memories - An Appalachian Boyhood
Author: David Lee Thompson
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0595261949

David Lee Thompson has produced a caring and introspective personal account of the vanishing Appalachian culture. This way of life existed for over twelve generations, teaching its people the importance of family, community, and religion. Thompson's old home place, 'now empty and lonely,' holds 'faint whispers of what was once alive with laughter and reminiscences.' His boyhood memories of life on Bowen Creek represent the last vestiges of a time and place now nearly extinct.-Dr. Alan B. Gould, Executive Director The John Deaver Drinko Academy Marshall University"From the first pioneers who struggled west to make a home among our hills and hollows, our families have been our culture's backbone. The portrait of Appalachian life David Thompson paints is one familiar to generations of southern West Virginians. It is a history that should be saved and valued."-U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (WV)"As readers journey along in David Thompson's River of Memories, they uncover truths about themselves and gain a better understanding about life in Appalachia. This is especially true for those of us who have strong ties with its people, helping us appreciate our heritage even more."-Shawn W. Coffman, M.D. Huntington Internal Medicine Group.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Thompson, David Lee