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.

Leave No Man Behind

Title: Leave No Man Behind
Author: George Galdorisi & Thomas Phillips
Genre: History
Reviewer: Dick Geschke

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0760323925

Beginning with the birth of combat aircraft in World War I and the early attempts to rescue warriors trapped behind enemy lines, Leave No Man Behind chronicles in depth nearly one hundred years of combat search and rescue (CSAR). All major U.S. combat operations from World War II to the early years of the Iraq War are covered, including previously classified missions and several Medal-of-Honor-winning operations. Authors George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips (both veteran U.S. Navy helicopter pilots) highlight individual acts of heroism while telling the big-picture story of the creation and development of modern CSAR.

Although individual missions have their successes and failures, CSAR, as an institution, would seem beyond reproach, an obvious necessity. The organizational history of CSAR, however, is not entirely positive. The armed services, particularly the U.S. Air Force and Navy, have a tendency to cut CSAR at the end of a conflict, leaving no infrastructure prepared for the next time that the brave men and women of our armed forces find themselves behind enemy lines.

The final chapter has not yet been written for U.S. combat search and rescue, but in view of the life-saving potential of these forces, an open and forthright review of U.S. military CSAR plans and policies is long overdue. Beyond the exciting stories of heroic victories and heartrending defeats, Leave No Man Behind stimulates debate on this important subject.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Galdorisi, George
Phillips, Thomas

Marble Mountain Memoirs

Title: Marble Mountain Memoirs
Author: Robert Romaniello
Genre: Memoir
Reviewer: Joe Epley

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1479265454

A diagnosis of Stage Four Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2005 linked to Agent Orange 35 years ago in Vietnam triggers a trip back into the depths of a young man's soul and into the depths of the soul of America at war.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Romaniello, Robert

Tales of Ramasun

Title: Tales of Ramasun
Author: M H Burton
Genre: Dhort Story Collection
Reviewer: Ed Cox

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1477415076

"Tales of Ramasun" is a different kind of Vietnam War story. The kind of war story you may not have heard before. The story of the secret war, the war behind the curtain, the war whose soldiers were sworn to silence. Now is the time to tell it, before all of the old spooks and spies who participated in it are gone. It is not a "blood and guts" war story. There were no Rambos at Ramasun. It's a story of brains not brawn. Smart young men full of youthful energy let loose in a strange land and put to a strange task, with a goodly number of smartasses and jokers in the pack to make things more interesting. Even their jargon was weird. They were lingies (translator/interpreters) and ditty-boppers (radio operators), who hung out at OPS (operations) and checked their skeds (read raw radio traffic) for hot skinny (important information). They went into battle equipped with typewriters and radio sets and tape machines and the most powerful state of the art communications interception gear of the time. Young GIs, most of them dragged unwillingly fresh from high school or college campuses to fight a "Top Secret" shadow puppet war in Thailand, a country they had barely heard of. It was the Thailand of the 1960s, not the modern, popular tourist destination of today, and it was the poorest, most remote, most backward section of that country where they ended up. The Northeast, Isaan (ee-sahn), 300 miles from Bangkok at a place called Ramasun Station. No tourists went there then, few do now, exactly in the middle of nowhere. Ramasun, named for the Thai thunder god, was the home of something called the 7th Radio Research Field Station, or 7th RRFS to military types who are fond of acronyms. "Radio Research" was just a cover for what was done there, a vague title meant to confuse. The 7th's mission was spying, electronic eavesdropping, on everyone is Southeast Asia...friend, foe and neutral. That's what it did for 10 years from 1966 to 1976 and it did it well. Now its gone, long gone, and there is hardly a trace of it left, not even so much as a brass plaque to mark its existance, and any Thai under the age of 50 who you ask will tell you that it never existed and that your contention that there were once over 40,000 US GIs in Thailand is nonsense. But is did exist and a surprisingly large number of people passed through its gates during its lifetime. They were a wild, wacky, raunchy, rambunctious bunch. Too smart to be proper 'by the book' soldiers. Never was a military unit short of the M*A*S*H 4077th less military than the 7th. When eavesdropping is your game and espionage is your mindset you don't give a damn about spit-shined boots and crisp salutes, and the only authority you respect is earned by those who demonstrate their ability at the tradecraft of spying, rank is irrelevant. The troops of the 7th were a nightmare for stiff necked military types, so sloppy on the parade ground that the brass had to borrow Thai Marines to salute the occasional dignitary that drifted Ramasun's way. "Troublemakers" the lot of them, but they did do one thing right. When it came to the mission you couldn't beat the 7th. They got the job done. They may not have looked good while they were doing it, but they got the job done. I was proud to have been one of this motley crew from 1968 to 1971. The nine stories in this book are based both on my own experiences and tales told me by others while I was there and during the many years since. I cannot say that they are all strictly true. Fact or fiction, I have tried to capture the essence of that long gone time and place. The way it really was, with all the warts on. The spooks, the spies, the intrigue, the culture shock, the adventure, the romance (and sex) that were Ramasun.Show More

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Burton, M H

Code Name: Orion's Eye

Title: Code Name: Orion's Eye
Author: Tom Gauthier
Genre: Fiction
Reviewer: John Cathcart

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0984663851

1943 World War II is raging. OSS officer Major Amos Mead tracks the elusive Nazi spy, Otto Hauptmann. Nazi Germany must steal the new radar technology. Mead must prevent it. From London and Berlin the race begins, finally converging in the South Pacific on the high seas where the lives of thirteen hundred men hang in the balance.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Gauthier, Tom

Rendition, The

Title: The Rendition
Author: Albert Ashforth
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Reviewer: Betsy Beard

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1608090590

The brutal secret war to win Kosovo's freedom from Serbia is in full swing when The Rendition takes readers behind the headlines for an inside look at the United States' involvement. Alex Klear, a veteran intelligence officer, is sent to the Balkans on a hastily planned rendition which goes terribly bad. Alex decides it's time to retire. However, when he is persuaded to go to Germany as part of an operation connected to the rendition, he finds himself caught between two dynamic women, an old girlfriend and the female colonel running the 'op.' While there, he becomes a target of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a murder suspect to the German police, and for his superiors the perfect fall guy to take the heat for a badly botched secret operation. With Kosovo's independence declaration coming closer by the day, the secret war heats up and Alex comes to realize that he is at the center of a murky conspiracy aimed at making the United States an international pariah.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Ashforth, Albert

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