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.

Sketches of a Black Cat

Title: Sketches of a Black Cat
Author: Ron & Howard Miner
Genre: Memoir
Reviewer: Dick Geschke

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 148026072X

Howard Miner was a student at a small Midwestern college when the War broke out. His journey through training and tours of duty as a PBY pilot in the South Pacific are skillfully captured in his art and narratives, framing a wartime drama with a personal coming of age story. This memoir has been reconstructed from a small library of unpublished artwork, journal entries, and writing, providing an enjoyable behind the scenes look at the Navy Black Cats. The descriptive verse from the artist’s viewpoint gives us a creatively told and intriguing portrayal of WWII’s Pacific Theater.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Miner, Ron
Miner, Howard

George - 3 - 7th Marines: A Brief Glimpse Through Time of a Group of Young Marines

Title: George - 3 - 7th Marines: A Brief Glimpse Through Time of a Group of Young Marines
Author: Jim Nicholson
Genre: History
Reviewer: Steve Maffeo

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1426947828

In the four years of the Korean War, America lost almost 54,000 men, roughly the same number who lost their lives in Vietnam, yet this war has almost disappeared into American history as the "Forgotten War". George-3-7th Marines tells a story of the bloody Marine infantry campaigns fought in the deadly mountain ranges of Korea; it is a story told by the men who fought there-and died anonymously-in an unknown and bloody war. The never-before-told tales of the battle-hardened Marines of G-3-7 were collected and recorded by one of their own. Described by those who experienced the action firsthand, these accounts blend the shocking details of savage, bloody, killing with gentle, almost heartbreaking prose seldom seen in a chronicle of war. Jim Nicholson paints a brutally accurate picture of America and the Valhalla culture that shaped the toughness of soldiers in the fifties. He examines the events and mistakes that led to a collision of the free world with the rapidly expanding Communist military machine. He reminds us that history does, in fact, show clearly that the sacrifice of young American boys saved the South Koreans, who now live freely in their beautiful "Land of the Morning Calm".

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Nicholson, Jim

Mystic Dancer

Title: Mystic Dancer
Author: Frederick Rist
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: Lee Boyland

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1469904926

The daughter of an Air Force pilot tracks down an elderly priest to learn the story her father will not tell her. The story of the only surviving priest from the secret war in Laos and now in hiding, the pilot, the brutal drug lord Khun Rhah and the Hmong mountain people who fought America’s war, rescued downed American pilots, were caught in the struggle between powerful drug lords and the greed of those in power and suffered greatly when finally abandoned by the Americans. Set against the background of the US involvement in Southeast Asia, Mystic Dancer spans a generation of time and takes us through the flood of violence, betrayal, insanity, drugs and the friendship of people who need each other to survive and to prevent tragedy for those who befriended America.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Rist, Frederick


Big Mother 40: "A great read on Navy helicopter rescue operations in the Vietnam era. A very well-written, exciting, fast moving book about the life of two Navy lieutenants. A Navy Helicopter pilot and a Navy Seal and their teams performing their duties in extremely hazardous conditions. Although fiction, Marc's knowledge of Navy Helicopter and Navy SEAl operations and the planning it takes to complete these types of missions is evident throughout the book. His understanding of the overall concept of joint and naval operations and the specifics of both Special Forces and helicopter missions during the Vietnam era makes this a very believable scenario. I personally know that Marc lived the life of a Navy rescue helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War."
Ken L. Fisher Rear Admiral USN (retired) Naval Aviator and fighter pilot

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1611792312

The U.S. Navy entered the Vietnam War prepared to fight either a conventional, or God forbid, a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. In the mid-sixties, as the Vietnam war escalated, the U.S. found itself without significant aviation capability to support special operations or combat search and rescue (CSAR). To support SEAL operations in the Mekong Delta, the Navy created a Helicopter Combat Attack Squadron that was eventually split into four squadrons tasked with combat search and rescue and special operations missions. Its call sign was the Sea Devils, but over time, the matte-black Sea King helicopters became known as the "Big Mothers." BIG MOTHER 4O is about the life of a Navy helicopter pilot, a Navy Seal, and their teams performing under extremely hazardous combat conditions and includes the women they loved.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Liebman, Marc

Code Word: Paternity

Title: Code Word: Paternity
Author: Doug Norton
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Reviewer: Dick Geschke

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1457515555

The Armageddon genie--nuclear terrorism--is out of the bottle, freed by bin-Laden's heedless avengers and "a pissant dictator with Ray-Bans and a fondness for movies," as America's president puts it privately a few hours before announcing a decision that will mark him forever as either a hero or a mass murderer.

In a twenty-first century Pearl Harbor, nuclear terrorism takes its first city--Las Vegas--and stalks Baltimore. The terrorists have no return address--but the nuke they used does. A scientific trail scented by an ultra-secret U.S. program hidden for years behind the code word "Paternity" points toward the nation that made the bomb.

But there's no smoking gun. Struggling to lead a divided, panicked America, wring support from uncertain allies, and blunt the opportunism of rivals, the president faces an ethical dilemma threatening his marriage, his presidency, and his very soul. As commander-in-chief, controlling nearly unfathomable power to retaliate, he can put the Armageddon genie back in the bottle--but at what cost and to whom? Ambition, conscience, and duty collide as heads of state, politicians, diplomats, and generals maneuver with the lives of millions at stake.


Author(s) Mentioned: 
Norton, Doug