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.

Heaven in the Midst of Hell: A Quaker Chaplain's View of the War in Iraq

Title: Heaven in the Midst of Hell: A Quaker Chaplain's View of the War in Iraq
Author: Sheri Snively
Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspirational
Reviewer: Pat McGrath Avery

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0981992609

War exposes the divide between who we think we are and how we behave in extreme situations. Commander Snively has crafted a vivid, unsettling, and ultimately hopeful personal account of the effects of the Iraq war on soldiers and civilians alike who find themselves astride that dilemma.

From her unique perspective as a Navy Quaker chaplain serving with Marines working amid the boredom, tension, and seemingly meaningless carnage at a trauma hospital and morgue between Ramadi and Fallujah, Commander Snively negotiates a compassionate path to healing marked not by formulaic answers, but by an open and questioning spirit.

Lavishly adorned with the author's own evocative photographs, Heaven in the Midst of Hell is a compelling and unforgettable journey into the human soul

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Snively, Sheri

Waiting for the "Word": Recollections of my life in the United States Navy from January 25, 1943 to November 6, 1945

Title: Waiting for the "Word": Recollections of my life in the United States Navy from January 25, 1943 to November 6, 1945
Author: Ulmon Bray
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1598582860

Even though the Navy provided considerable shelter for its young recruits and certainly didn't encourage individual behavior over that of the group, it expected responsible compliance with its rules and regulations whether individually or otherwise. And so it was at the age of eighteen years, three months, I entered the maze of activities designed not only to produce an able seaman, but would most certainly turn "boy" into "man." The events and accompanying experiences that occurred during the several levels of training and more than seven months of combat duty contributed to the growth of technical as well as social skills, which in the long view, might have been of much greater importance. It was the interaction with other people that created the most emorable events that are described here. The military deeds were necessary, but it was the men who supported my efforts to do my share who remain forever in the shadows of my memory.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Bray, Ulmon

Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel

Title: Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel
Author: John Podlaski
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Rob Ballister

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1452879818

A book chronicling the experiences of eighteen year-old Army Infantry soldiers during their tour in the Vietnam War. During the draft years, scores of naive, frightened, and awed young soldiers arrived daily in Vietnam; they were immediately branded "Cherries" (slang for virgins) by their in-country peers. Thrust into an unpopular war, these new recruits had much to learn before being accepted and fully trusted by their brothers. These boys were forced to become men virtually overnight, learning the ropes quickly to make life or death decisions, while depending upon one another to survive. The first few months in country served as an intense learning experience where they saw, heard, and endured things never thought to be humanly possible - providing they lived that long.

There are 2.5 million existing stories from soldiers having served in Vietnam. Cherries is unique in that it is told from a "Cherry's" point of view. The story follows a group of teenaged soldiers throughout their transitions from Cherries to war-hardened veterans. Their experiences are at times educational, horrific, comical, and tragic, in their never-ending search for the enemy through the dark, wet, bug-infested jungles and mountains of South Vietnam.

Though Vietnam serves as the setting for Cherries, this story could take place during any war.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Podlaski, John

Argopelter: A Sergeant Sandy Coker Novel

Title: Argopelter: A Sergeant Sandy Coker Novel
Author: Ronald Smith
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Reviewer: Hodge Wood

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1451227841

Air Force Sergeant Sandy Coker, now retired, finally joins his families billion dollar lumbering business as its new Director, and immediately hires old military comrades to fill key positions. Two of them assisted Coker in the dramatic rescue of his wife, kidnapped by a maniacal industrialist while stationed in England; the third saved his life in 1968 in the jungles of Vietnam.

On a routine company familiarization trip to one of its plants in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula forests, Coker and his friends finds themselves suddenly entangled in an eighty year old murder mystery which crosses borders and leads to a present day pattern of murder and violence.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Smith, Ronald

Boys of Diamond Hill: The Lives and Civil War Letters of the Boyd Family of Abbeville County, South Carolina, The

Title: The Boys of Diamond Hill: The Lives and Civil War Letters of the Boyd Family of Abbeville County, South Carolina
Author: J. Keith Jones
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0786463333

In April 1861, brothers Daniel and Pressley Boyd left their farm in Abbeville County, South Carolina, to join the Confederate army. The Civil War soon swept their other brothers, William, Thomas and Andrew, as well as brother-in-law Fenton Hall into service. By the war's end, only Daniel survived. The extensive collection of letters the Boyds left behind, assembled for the first time, details their experiences across almost every theater of the war and offers commentary on many aspects of soldier life--from illness, death, and religion to friendly fire, desertion, and politics. Few families sacrificed as much to the Confederate cause as did the Boyds. Their letters remain a testament to their commitment and reveal the profound human impact of war.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Jones, J. Keith