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.

Twenty-One Steps of Courage

Title: Twenty-One Steps of Courage
Author: Sarah Bates
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: Margaret Brown

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1614349576

In 2006, with wars in the Middle East raging, Rod Strong enlists in the Army to seek the goal his father did not achieve when he tragically died in the Gulf War. His objective: The Old Guard regiment, the elite Soldiers who stand as Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington Cemetery. He overcomes the setbacks that litter his path until an unexpected firefight in Afghanistan changes his life forever.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Bates, Sarah

Forever We Serve

Title: Forever We Serve
Author: R. Samuel Baty
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: Darlene Iskra

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1475935161

Although World War II is over, the world is not a safer place. The Soviet Union has lowered an iron curtain in front of Eastern Europe, and Josef Stalin desires complete world domination. American nurse Jennifer Haraldsson and her former patient and German POW, Otto Bruner, have returned to their former lives with unfinished business. Although deeply in love, both realize the obstacles to spending their lives together are too overwhelming. Haraldsson, who now serves as a nurse at Walter Reed Army Hospital, knows that Jack MacLaine, United States Army Intelligence Officer, is her best hope for romance. After she accepts his marriage proposal, she naively thinks her life will return to normal. Unfortunately, she has never been more wrong. After the North Koreans attack South Korea, MacLaine is sent overseas. It is not long before Haraldsson is enlisted by her boss, Dr. Brad Taylor, to travel to Korea to launch a mobile army hospital. As the two work tirelessly to set up their MASH unit, Haraldsson has no idea that an unexpected tragedy is about to strip away her newfound happiness. Many twists and turns occur in this continuing historical thriller. The great political and military dramas of the times unfold as the legendary Marine First Regiment Commander Chesty Puller, General Douglas MacArthur, General Matthew Ridgway, and President Harry Truman assume their commanding roles. In this continuing historical saga, an American nurse soon realizes that amidst the chaos of war, nothing is guaranteed-especially love.

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Author(s) Mentioned: 
Baty, R. Samuel

Letters for Logan

Title: Letters for Logan
Author: Debra Bastian
Genre: Creative Non-Fiction
Reviewer: John Monteith

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1477213295

Letters for Logan is the heartfelt story of a mother's timeless love for her son, and the legacy she is compelled to leave her grandson. Air Force Capt. Derek Argel, 28, was larger-than-life-athletic, loving, dedicated, loyal and above all, a son to Debbie, husband to Wendy and father to Logan. Within days of his tragic death in the line of duty on Memorial Day of 2005 in Iraq, the first letter to Logan arrived. Then another came, and they kept coming, from friends, colleagues, warriors and family. They still arrive, even years after the Combat Controller's death, each one weaving an enduring portrait for a little boy of his fallen father, gone too soon. Proceeds from this book will go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, rated as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator. The foundation provides full scholarship grants, educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions, and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families. The family of Capt. Derek Argel believes wholeheartedly in the mission of the foundation. "First there, That Others may Live" Nora Wallace

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Bastian, Debra

Chosin File

Title: Chosin File
Author: Dale A. Dye
Genre: Fiction
Reviewer: Joyce M. Gilmour

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0985338806

Nuclear saber-rattling in North Korea has created international palpitations and some unlikely partnerships in an effort to keep communist loose cannons from causing a war that no one wants and everyone fears. The CIA calls on clandestine contacts in neighboring China to run a dark—and wholly unauthorized—reconnaissance mission over North Korea from a top-secret drone base along the Yalu River. All is well and under international radar until Gunner Shake Davis’ best friend goes missing on a mission near the infamous Chosin Reservoir to check on a tip that the North Koreans are up to something sinister around the infamous Chosin Reservoir. That brings Marine Gunner Shake Davis out of retirement once again to locate his buddy on a risky trek through the snow-blown mountains surrounding the Korean War battle site where an earlier generation of Marines fought a classic withdrawal that became an iconic chapter in military history. While Shake is on his risky mission, the North Korean Supreme Leader suddenly dies and the entire world goes on high alert to see what might happen next in Pyongyang. That puts serious pressure on Shake and his South Korean allies who have discovered—and must deter—a potentially world-shattering North Korean weapon that threatens the very fabric of modern computer-based societies. It’s a high-stakes game and the clock is ticking as an international team of technical experts and military special operators launch a desperate search that culminates in a deadly confrontation in the Korea Straits in the midst of a howling storm.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Dye, Dale A.

Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD

Title: Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD
Author: Christal Presley, Phd
Genre: Memoir
Reviewer: Cathryn J. Prince

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0757316468

A soldier's return home from war is often just the beginning of another, more internalized battle. In her memoir, Presley recounts 30 days of interviews with her Vietnam veteran father—conversations in which she attempts to understand her father, his PTSD, and her own lifetime of vicarious traumas. Each day is given a chapter, and each chapter concludes with a "Journal" entry that revisits Presley's tumultuous childhood memories. What emerges from this format is a harrowing portrait of the past's ability to haunt the present; Presley's descriptions of the troubled child she was blend all too easily into the confused and searching adult she becomes. In some cases, she is compelled to go to a Veterans Affairs hospital and even to Vietnam. The book's division into 30 days feels increasingly forced and fragmented with the passing of each chapter. Such a story is, by its very nature, fractured, and by the end of the book Presley's father is no less tormented than he was at Day One. Yet Presley has found stability in her father's story, and her willingness to share it—and her own revelations—will be appreciated by readers who deal with any form of wartime PTSD.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Presley Phd, Christal

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