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.

Scottish Thistle, The

Title: The Scottish Thistle
Author: Cindy Vallar
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Historical
Reviewer: Joyce Gilmour

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1592797121

Loyalty and honor. A Highland warrior prizes both more than life, and when he swears his oath on the dirk, he must obey or die. Duncan Cameron heeds his chief's order without question, but discovers his wife-to-be is no fair maiden. Although women are no longer trained in the art of fighting, Rory MacGregor follows in the footsteps of her Celtic ancestors. Secrets from the past and superstitious folk endanger Rory and Duncan as much as Bonnie Prince Charlie and his uprising to win back the British throne for his father. Rory and Duncan must make difficult choices that pit honor and duty against trust and love.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Vallar, Cindy

Inside the Fortress

Title: Inside the Fortress
Author: Steve Valley
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Rob Ballister

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1589825667

Inside the Fortress is a behind the scenes look at life for an Army senior enlisted leader inside the world renowned Green Zone, where he lived and worked from January 2004 to January 2005.

This book gives the reader an up close and personal look at what was really happening in Baghdad because what everyone saw back home via the main stream media was 180 degrees different of what was actually happening.

Steve Valley was the first sergeant of a unit made up of highly talented public affairs and combat arms Soldiers that brought with them an endless onslaught of personal issues and situations that that he and the unit's commander had to deal with on a daily basis. He played leader, father, brother and friend to countless American Soldiers that looked to him for answers and information while trying to survive the never ending incoming barrage of mortars, rockets and bullets.

Valley's duty station was at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in Baghdad, located in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. The CPIC was made up of nearly 70 multi-service and international military members and civilians. The organization was responsible for writing and distributing press releases, setting up and hosting all the coalition's press conferences, organizing the military's media embed program and performing extensive media relations with the international media and governmental relations with top level diplomats and politicians.

Valley performed media escort duties for first media trip to the Abu Ghraib prison after the story broke in February 2004. He played a major role in the Abu Ghraib court martial proceedings held at the Baghdad Convention Center, the signing of the Iraqi Transitional Administrative Law, the transfer of sovereignty from the US to the Iraq in June 2004 and Sadaam Hussein's first court appearance the following month. Valley also served as a coalition spokesperson for the major battles of Najaf and Fallujah. He dealt with every reporter that came to Iraq from CNN's Christiana Amanpour, to the Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter John F. Burns to the late Peter Jennings in addition to the numerous American daily and weekly community newspapers that needed updated information for their readers and viewers concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Some of the media outlets that Valley worked with on a regular basis included the Associated Press, BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, Fox News (2 separate appearances on the Neil Cavuto Show), CNN, NBC, CBS and Al-Jazeera. He also worked with the CIA and FBI, White House liaisons, Department of Defense and State Department officials and senior Iraqi Governmental officials as part of his normal daily duties.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Valley, Steve

Beyond My Horizon: An Educational Odyssey & Combat Memoir

Title: Beyond My Horizon: An Educational Odyssey & Combat Memoir
Author: Claude Regis Vargo
Genre: Non-Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1608445658

“Share the author’s journey in Beyond My Horizon. Fall in love with the lifestyle of one of the world’s most beautiful hotels; survive the sieges of the hell-holes of Hue and Khe Sanh, Viet Nam; and stand beneath the stone archway of Cornell University. Here is a tale of determination, drive, and a courageous ride through life that you will not want to stop reading. In this engaging, compelling, and inspiring book, Claude Vargo mesmerizes the reader. He eloquently describes his life and the hard work that transformed him from being a youthful academic failure to graduating summa cum laude in just two years in midlife from the Hilton College at the University of Houston while simultaneously attending Cornell.

If Claude did it, you can too! This book is chock full of humorous anecdotes, academic timesaving tips, and common-sense tricks to achieve your scholastic and life goals.

Beyond My Horizon is a must-read for anyone who has a real desire to do well in college, go back to college, or finally make a change and pursue any lifelong dream. Vargo’s odyssey not only is a heartfelt and sincere effort to inspire the reader to go after life goals but also helps the reader believe he or she really can accomplish any goal.”

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Vargo, Claude Regis

Bear: Flight to Liberty

Title: Bear: Flight to Liberty
Author: Miguel Vargas-Caba
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Reviewer: Rob Ballister

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0595681670

In September 1976, Viktor Belenko defected to Japan in his MiG-25 Foxbat jet fighter, one of the most well-known defections from the Soviet block. But in that same year, there was another defection so embarrassing to the Soviets that its particulars remained a secret for more than twenty-five years. All media accounts of Soviet TU-95 flights participating in the Okean 76 naval maneuvers mention only two planes. Whenever they were confronted in private, however, the Soviets acknowledged that in reality, three planes took off from Russia, with the third aircraft crashing at sea, killing everyone aboard. Since it sank in deep waters, no one attempted to salvage the wreck. But what the Soviet authorities never acknowledged -publicly or privately- was that the third TU-95 made a bold and risky flight from the USSR to Canada. Because its crew defected, the Soviets never admitted that such an event happened. Bear: Flight to Liberty tells the third crew's thrilling story.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Vargas-Caba, Miguel

Beyond Hell and Back: How America's Special Operations Forces Became the World's Greatest Fighting Unit

Title: Beyond Hell and Back: How America's Special Operations Forces Became the World's Greatest Fighting Unit
Authors: Dwight Jon Zimmerman, John D. Gresham
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Weymouth Symmes

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B0046LUGWG

The accounts of seven pivotal special operations from Vietnam to present day that were instrumental in the creation of Special Operations Command.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Zimmerman, Dwight Jon
Gresham, John

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