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.

Missing Sticks

Title: Missing Sticks
Author: J. M. Taylor
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Reviewer: Larry Purcell

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1879043009

Faces streaked with soot or burnt cork, over six thousand paratroopers and glidermen of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles jumped or crashed into the swamps, canals, hedgerows and villages of the Cotentin Peninsular of France sometime after midnight on the sixth day of June 1944.

Over four hundred C-47 Dakotas carried the Screaming Eagles through the darkness and into a thick cloud bank that night. One load of pathfinders crashed into the English Channel. Planes were seen to explode in midair. Others crashed and burned past all recognition, probably due to ground fire. Just before dawn, the initial glider serials slammed between the hedgerows, into trees and each other. Many planes safely delivered their troopers to their designated drop zones. However, come dawn eighteen planes, each carrying a stick of fifteen to twenty paratroopers, were missing.

As so often happened that night, many paratroopers found themselves alone. Some quickly banded together, others wandered for hours, evading Germans and capture. Some were all too quickly made casualties, either by the hard landing or German fire. Others were taken prisoner. Some of the real stories are even harder to fathom than the stories in Missing Sticks, a fictional account of a handful of those missing men, representative of those declared casualties in real life.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Taylor, J. M.

Coyote Jack: Drawing Meaning from Life and Vietnam--A Memoir

Title: Coyote Jack: Drawing Meaning from Life and Vietnam--A Memoir
Author: Jack Lyndon Thomas
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Charles E. Gibbs

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0965984311

Coyote Jack overlays a fascinating exposition of life and death in the most enigmatic of American conflicts with an individual's struggle to free himself from the enemy that stands ready to thwart a full and authentic life. Through Jack, we live in sandbag bunkers, bathe out of wells, and dodge booby traps, as he learns the privations and landmines of his personal life are as complex as the clashing cultures and divisive politics that created, and ended the war in Vietnam.

Thomas was an Infantry Lieutenant who lived and fought with South Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Thomas, Jack Lyndon

Beyond Duty: Life on the Frontline in Iraq

Title: Beyond Duty: Life on the Frontline in Iraq
Author: Shannon Meehan and Roger Thompson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Dave Brown

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0745635865

Under the blazing Iraqi sun in the summer of 2007, Shannon Meehan, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, ordered a strike that would take the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians. He thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was protecting his men. He thought that he would only kill the enemy, but in the ruins of the strike, he discovers his mistake and uncovers a tragedy.

For most of his deployment in Iraq, Lt. Meehan felt that he had been made for a life in the military. A tank commander, he worked in the violent Diyala Province, successfully fighting the insurgency by various Sunni and Shia factions. He was celebrated by his senior officers and decorated with medals. But when the U.S. surge to retake Iraq in 2006 and 2007 finally pushed into Baqubah, a town virtually entirely controlled by al Qaida, Meehan would make the decision that would change his life.

This is the true story of one soldier's attempt to reconcile what he has done with what he felt he had to do. Stark and devastating, it recounts first-hand the reality of a new type of warfare that remains largely unspoken and forgotten on the frontlines of Iraq.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Meehan, Shannon
Thompson, Roger

Second Chance at Life, A

Title: A Second Chance at Life
Author: Brian Huynh Travis
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Kathleen Rodgers

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1450076351

An exciting, memorable, historical memoir awaits everyone as author Brian Huynh Travis releases, through Xlibris, A Second Chance At Life. Readers will dip into the author's life as this book takes them to his amazing journey. A Second Chance at Life is a remarkable historical memoir that represents the life and adventures of the author. In this inspiring account, the author tells about his life--from childhood, to his treacherous boat journey as he and his two older siblings escaped from Vietnam, to beginning a new life in America, and becoming successful. He relates his family, struggles, adventures and misadventures, his different careers, his various experiences at war, public service, and so much more. This is an absolute revelation of how his life travels from one simple step towards achieving a new, healthy, and prosperous life. Through A Second Chance at Life, readers will find inspiration and hope as they travel through life.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Travis, Brian Huynh