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.

Ghosts Dancing

Title: Ghosts Dancing
Author: Steven Fortney
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: jim greenwald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B0068UB4O2

Most Americans don’t know who Louis Riel is, nor who that remarkable people the Métis were; nor do they know that there were many important Americans influenced by the Empire-driven ideas of Manifest Destiny who had serious designs on acquiring for the United States all of what is now Canada west of Ontario from the 90th meridian to the North Pole and to the Pacific. These included US senators (Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota), Cabinet members (William Seward of Seward’s folly) and American Presidents (US Grant, for one, briefly).
Nor are we aware that our Plains Indian Wars of the 1840-1890s were a
mirror of the Métis-First Citizen wars of the Northwest Territories of
Canada. Louie Riel, Gabriel Dumont, the Prophet Wovoka and Sitting Bull had parallel careers. Little Big Horn and Duck Lake and Tourond’s Coulee are
shadows of each other as are Wounded Knee and the disaster of the battle of
Batoche in Saskatchewan. The Battle of the Little Big Horn, the assassination
of Sitting Bull, the Ghost Dance Religion, the religious agony and execution
of Louis Riel for treason against the Queen sadly mirror each other.
These events, dramatized in Ghosts Dancing, are all recounted as David St.
Clair and his Métis friend Pilgrim journey through the Western Frontier.
Overhead, the northern lights, the Dancing Ghosts, the Wawatay—which the
Ojibwe believe to be their ancestors’ spirits—swirl, warning of impending
With each on his own quest, David St. Clair and Pilgrim wander through the
recently surrendered lands of the Native Americans. Portrayed here is the
nightmare vision Riel’s execution and of the Wounded Knee Massacre. We see it clearly, as we have seen so much of the narrative, through St. Clair’s
eyes; but nothing could have prepared him for that bitter day of December 29, 1890. Sickened by what he witnesses, and powerless to do anything about it, his breaking point comes when he sees a fleeing Sioux mother pitilessly cut down from behind by a soldier’s rifle shot. St. Clair’s universe implodes in an instant and he sees, in his mind’s and heart’s eye, his childhood home and his father’s and mother’s lives being destroyed as the Sioux innocents’ lives are being destroyed in front of him.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Fortney, Steven

Revenge of the Pearl Harbor Survivors

Title: Revenge of the Pearl Harbor Survivors
Author: John Nevola
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B005EDAROM

This year we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. All of the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers survived that assault. The central theme of this article describes the pivotal role played by those surviving American aircraft carriers in the first year of the war.

The article also briefly describes all of the Japanese and American aircraft carriers in service at the time and their relative strengths and weaknesses. It reveals the location of all the American carriers at the precise moment of the Pearl Harbor attack and describes their deployment and operations in the year immediately after the raid.

Thanks to the survival and clever deployment of the carriers in 1942, the United States Navy was able to effectively thwart and delay Japan's military aggression throughout the Pacific despite the tragic loss of many battleships and over 2,400 military personnel on December 7.

This is also a story of valor and sacrifice as only two of these ships survived that first year. By bravely and stubbornly blunting Japanese thrusts until newly built reinforcements could arrive, the surviving aircraft carriers and their courageous sailors and airmen exacted a true measure of revenge for Pearl Harbor.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Nevola, John


Author: Jeff Noecker
Genre: Military Air Force
Reviewer: Buddy Cox

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1462004822

This is the story of a young man from Pennsylvania who enlists in the U.S. Air Force at age 19. After three years of essential but otherwise boring duty, he is accepted into the AC-130 gunship pprogram and is assigned to a special operations unit in Southeast Asia. This book is written in a memoir format and details the duties and missions of this young man and his contemporaries as they attack supply convoys while flying at low altitude along the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. The story relates the good with the bad and has a special section dedicated to the "urban legends" of the time.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Noeckner, Jeff

No Paved Road To Freedom

Title: No Paved Road To Freedom
Author: Sharon Rushton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: Weymouth Symmes

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 098313040X

No Paved Road To Freedom is a gripping and emotional story that humanizes the impact of communist occupation in Romania after World War II. It is relevant, it inspires, and it reminds us that freedom is precious. Based on a true story, it documents the extraordinary courage of Cornel Dolana and his family as they pay an incredible price for resisting communism. Cornel makes up his mind to escape the oppression and uses his ingenuity to put his plan in place. His fortitude keeps him moving toward his goal, despite enduring enormous setbacks, brutality, and extreme outdoor elements that few humans could survive.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Rushton, Sharon

Hidden Wounds: A Soldiers Burden

Title: Hidden Wounds: A Soldiers Burden
Author Marious Tecoanta & Nate Brookshire
Genre: Literary Fiction
Reviewer: John Cathcart

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1934266221

April 13, 1945...The last days of WWII...Eight lone German soldiers surrendered. Instead of a POW camp, their steps took them into a shallow grave. John Dougall, an 18-year-old American soldier, stood by as the murderous shots were fired. Laying there among the dead was Rudolph Haas, an officer whose death would burden John for a lifetime.

John sought redemption in the rugged hills of Korea and in the swamps of Vietnam. Chaining him to remorse and guilt were the private thoughts of Haas, written carefully into the diary that John had taken from the German's body.

Six decades later, fate gave John one last chance to set things right and make peace with his past.

This is the story of two soldiers robbed of their happiness, yet both clinging fiercely to their honor; and the stories of their wives, as strong in heart as any warrior.

The journey takes our heroes from the safety of South Carolina to the battlefields of Europe and from the frozen Siberian Gulag to the gothic cities of Bavaria. The secrets of the Journal connect them all and, unbeknownst to John, spark a love that heals their hidden wounds.

Why Hidden Wounds? This story started coming together in the spring of 2004 when two Officer Candidates decided to write a book about an American and a German soldier whose lives and families become intertwined on the battlefield in the last stages of WWII.

Action and inaction has a generational impact as the main character reflects on his choices and deals with the guilt of participating in a war crime. Is it too late at the age of 84 to make things right?

The story has evolved into a discussion of PTSD, addiction, suicide awareness / prevention and forgiveness. Please join us in the journey...

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Tecoanta, Marius & Brookshire, Nate