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.

My Corps: Short Stories and Reflections

Title: My Corps: Short Stories and Reflections
Author: Gene Rackovitch
Genre: Short Story Collection
Reviewer: C.J. Prince

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1470135477

Mr. Rackovitch gives you his fears and joys in his short stories about the Marine Corps. There is humor and pathos in his recollections. There is also underlying feeling of pride in the men who gave all they had to their country in time of need. He reminisces and draws from memory as he creates both good and evil from that association. From the beginnings in boot camp through the training and the final cessations of hostilities he draws you into the life style and espirt de-Corp of the United States Marines.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Rackovitch, Gene

Island of the Phoenix

Title: Island of the Phoenix
Author: Vic Mills
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: John Monteith

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0985252308

Same war, different enemy... Captain Michael Hollands, United States Army Air Corps, is a combat-hardened pilot, battling Nazi fighter planes for control of the skies over North Africa. His life is difficult and sometimes it's brutal, but he understands his place in the world, and he understands the rules. Then an unexpected change of orders yanks him out of familiar surroundings, and sends him half-way around the world to fight the Japanese in the South Pacific. Shuffled to an obscure air base in the Solomon Islands, he discovers that his assigned unit has transferred to a new operating area, taking their aircraft with them. Without planes or official sanction, Hollands must beg, borrow, and steal to build a fighter squadron that will take the war to the enemy's doorstep. But nothing can prepare him for what happens when he crash-lands on an unnamed island behind Japanese lines. Marooned among a handful of heroic survivors, he is about to discover the true meaning of loyalty, patriotism, courage, and love. The Japanese Imperial Navy has no idea what's in store for it. And neither does Mike Hollands...

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Mills, Vic

Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops

Title: Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops
Author: Lance Q. Cedric & Michael F. Dilley
Genre: History
Reviewer: Robert Schaeffer

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0934793603

Chronicling America’s elite units from the late 17th century to the present day, this gives an informative and interesting examination of the men who comprised the U.S. military elite.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Cedric, Lance Q.
Dilley, Michael F.

First Casualty - A Vietnam Memoir, The

Title: The First Casualty - A Vietnam Memoir
Author: Karl Orndorff
Genre: History
Reviewer: Joe Epley

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1479157600

Beyond the media hype and far removed from the gung ho warriors searching for fame written in enemy blood, lie the realities of life for the average military individual during the Vietnam War. Just beyond that dwell the stories of a few persons whose bizarre war experiences reached far outside the norms of average military personnel. The life of any soldier during war time comprises the extremes of boredom punctuated by split second decisions that could make the difference between life and death. Heaven and Hell, love and hate, murder, illicit drugs, hunger, rescue, association with the enemy, falsification of official records and cultural gaps that dwarfed the depth and breadth of the Grand Canyon comprised the experiences documented herein. The unimaginable determination of a Communist enemy waging an ambiguous war without a front was the foundation of an interesting series of events that are accurately portrayed here, just as they played out during the war. By luck, fate, destiny or blessing, one incredibly unlikely end result was the author’s survival. With brutal honesty (but a lack of the colorful language that was a normal part of military vocabulary,) this book tells the story of a United States Marine assigned to 7th Separate Bulk Fuel Company in Vietnam, from 1967-1969. Danang, Hoi An, An Hoa, Hill Ten, Liberty Bridge and remote villages, rice paddies and bamboo thickets in between, were the settings. The cast was huge. Vietcong, NVA, The Tiger Division of the Korean Marine Corps, a few Australians, various unnamed F4 Phantom pilots, PFC Darryl Jensen and the author are the primary characters. Forty years would pass before a pen was grasped to write these accounts that at one time were desperately wished forgotten. The events in this work are documented as the author experienced them. Each event is recalled as clearly as if the four decades were four days. Every unconventional account is verifiable.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Orndorff, Karl

Pretty Much True...

Title: Pretty Much True
Author: Kristen Tsetsi
Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0982782268

"I smell yoru shirt sometimes, but not foten," Mia writes, those slurred keyboard strokes the only connection to her deployed boyfriend, whom she sees everywhere and nowhere in their small military town. A former English professor, Mia passes the time working as a cab driver, mulling over the intricacies of her encounters with others who are affected by the war: her dramatic future mother in-law, who eats bad news for breakfast; a charismatic alcoholic who may have been a medic in Vietnam; a pragmatic but secretive longtime Army wife; and a soldier who found a way to stay home. Pretty Much True... is the war story that's seldom told-the loss and love in every hour of deployment, and a painfully intimate portrait of lives spent waiting in the spaces between.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Tsetsi, Kristen