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.

True Surrender

Title: True Surrender
Author: Tracey Cramer-Kelly
Genre: Fiction, Literary
Reviewer: Gail Chatfield

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1466242418

When Major Aaron Bricewick is rescued from Afghanistan terrorists, he thinks the worst is over. But his personal journey is just beginning... The first surprise is the amputation of one of his legs. The second is the woman he left behind, now a widow with a 4-year-old son - and his new prosthetist (artificial limb maker). He vows that losing his leg won't derail his career. But maintaining his outward appearance as a got-it-together officer becomes increasingly difficult as he faces one personal demon after another - and sees his career aspirations slipping away. And though he has no intention of expanding his life to include a woman, his heart has other ideas - and he finds himself questioning the very foundation of his personal beliefs. When violence - and unexpected redemption - touch his life again, Aaron must make a stand. Which will he choose: duty or love?

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Cramer-Kelly, Tracey

Bittersweet Colony

Title: Bittersweet Colony
Author: David Michaelson
Genre: Sci-fi
Reviewer: Jim Greenwald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0984842225

Nearing the end of a tragic 20,000 year journey to Alpha Centauri,
the starship Pegasus is escorted to mankind's final destination by the
mysterious and powerful resident aliens. Once shuttled to their new planet the humans discover the terrifying reasons why the Odeons never settled the plane the human race now calls Bittersweet Colony.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Michaelson, David

Disability Compensation The Veteran's Guide Volume ll

Title: Disability Compensation The Veteran's Guide Volume ll
Author: Thomas van Hees
Genre: How-to/Business
Reviewer: Jim Greenwald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1604520701

My book is a self-help/ how-to publication. It explains how to negotiate the VA's claim filing process when seeking disability compensation for a service connected injury or condition. This book is a continuation of volume one with new information that was added to the benefits that a veteran qualifies for. It also delves more deeply into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which was lightly touched on in volume one. It also includes many subjects and information that will help the Afghanistan
and Iraqi veteran. Basically this book covers all new information that was not available when volume one went to press.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
van Hees, Thomas

Murder is for the Birds

Title: Murder is for the Birds
Author: Pat McGrath Avery
Genre: Fiction,Mystery
Reviewer: Bob Doerr

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0983493049

Stir birding, books and murder into a pot and tension boils as Hap Lynch and his trusty sidekick, Luke, help Detective Rachel Vasquez solve the mystery. Set in the Rio Grande Valley, nature's beauty turns ugly when a dead body is discovered. This is the second Hap Lynch mystery. The first book, Murder Takes a Ride, is set in Branson, Missouri.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
McGrath-Avery, Pat

Shadow Commander: The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn

Title: Shadow Commander: The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn
Author: Mike Guardia
Genre: Non-Fiction Biography
Reviewer: Bob Doerr

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store)1612000657: ISBN / E

The fires on Bataan burned with a primitive fury on the evening of April 9, 1942 - illuminating the white flags of surrender against the nighttime sky. Woefully outnumbered, outgunned, and ill-equipped, the battered remnants of the American-Philippine army surrendered to the forces of the Rising Sun. Yet amongst the chaos and devastation of the American defeat, Army Captain Donald D. Blackburn refused to lay down his arms.

With future SF legend Russell Volckmann, Blackburn escaped from Bataan and fled to the mountainous jungles of North Luzon, where they raised a private army of over 22,000 men against the Japanese. Once there, Blackburn organized a guerrilla regiment from among the native tribes in the Cagayan Valley. "Blackburn's Headhunters," as they came to be known, devastated the Japanese 14th Army within the eastern provinces of North Luzon and destroyed the Japanese naval base at Aparri.

After the war, Blackburn remained on active duty and played a key role in initiating Special Forces operations in Southeast Asia. In 1959, as commander of the 77th Special Forces Group, he spearheaded Operation White Star in Laos. Seven years later, Blackburn took command of the highly classified Studies and Observations Group (SOG), charged with performing secret missions now that main-force Communist incursions were on the rise.

In the wake of the CIA's disastrous Leaping Lena program, Blackburn revitalized the Special Operations campaign in South Vietnam. Sending cross-border reconnaissance teams into Laos, he discovered the clandestine networks and supply nodes of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. Taking this information directly to General Westmoreland, Blackburn received authorization to conduct full-scale operations against the NVA and Viet Cong operating along the Trail. In combats large and small, the Communists realized they had met a master of insurgent tactics - and he was on the US side.

Following his return to the United States, Blackburn was appointed "Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities," where he was the architect of the infamous Son Tay Prison Raid. Officially termed Operation Ivory Coast (and later, Operation Kingpin), the Son Tay raid was the largest POW rescue mission - and indeed, the largest Special Forces operation - of the Vietnam War.

During a period when United States troops in Southeast Asia faced guerrilla armies on every side, it has seldom been recognized today that America had a superb covert commander of its own, his guerrilla skills honed in resistance against Japan. This book follows Donald D. Blackburn from his youthful days in combat against an Empire, through his days as a senior commander, imparting his lessons to the newly-realized ranks of America's own Special Forces.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Guardia, Mike