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.

Ten Months in Iran

Title: Ten Months in Iran
Author: John F. Simpson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Carmen Stenholm

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 097550990X

This is an account of the developments in Iran prior to the 1978 collapse of the Shah's government. It details the civil and political conditions that led to the collapse and subsequent anarchy. It answers to the question of why Iran is now our enemy when, at the time, it was our best friend and a stabilizing force in that area of the world.

He gives you an idea of what went wrong in our foreign policy that caused the loss of Iran to religious fanatics and he points a finger at the person responsible for losing Iran's friendship and support. He worked for Bell Helicopter in Isfahan, Iran as a cobra test pilot. The story begins with a vivid account of his final trip through the city of Isfahan amidst gunfights between soldiers and rioters. On his return home, the author was stunned to learn that many of the people he knew had been executed by the cleric dictator Ayatollah Khomeini.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Simpson, John F.

Spooks: They Strike from Beyond and Leave No Trace

Title: Spooks: They Strike from Beyond and Leave No Trace
Author: James P. Slusser, Sr.
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0977143198

When Mary Ellen Winslow received her Master s degree in Nursing at Loyola of Chicago she never dreamed she d be using it in a helicopter over the jungles of Vietnam. But when her husband, a Korean War fighter ace, 16 years her senior, flew his plane into the side of a mountain rather than answer his Country's summons to return to service, and took one of his girlfriends with him, she somehow felt the only way to erase the shame and anger she felt was to serve in his place. This single-mindedness of purpose made Dusty , in her superiors opinions, the best field evacuation Nurse in Vietnam. It never seemed to matter to her how hot the LZ (landing zone) might be where she would have to go to pick up wounded soldiers or marines. They didn't realize that, as far as she was concerned, her life ended on that mountain when Jack slammed their Beechcraft into it. That was also the reason she showed absolutely no interest in the many young pilots, doctors, and other males that tried to attract her attention around the 125th Surgical Hospital at Da Nang; until, that is, Lieutenant Commander James Cooper came along. They say opposites attract. It must be true. Jim Cooper was the total antithesis of everything Dusty believed in. Her sole purpose for being in Vietnam was to save as many lives as she could. Jim Cooper was a Naval Intelligence Black Ops Spook whose sole purpose was to collect information about the enemy, and to do whatever he could to make as many Viet Cong and North Vietnamese die in the process as he possibly could. And if he wasn't t in Vietnam, he was in Europe, tracking down deserters from our own military with orders to retrieve or neutralize . He was a stone-cold killer and the more she tried to hate him the harder she fell in love with him. When he proposed and she accepted, the Military Hierarchy decided that it was not in the best interest of the war effort for them to marry and leave the military, so a Command conspiracy was formed that was designed to separate them forever. It almost succeeded. Spooks takes the reader through the horror of torn bodies on the battlefield to the intrigue of tracking defectors and spies through the streets of East Berlin. It clearly shows that all of the heroes of Vietnam weren't t big, tough guys with shaved heads, but a lot of them were little-bitty things with ponytails. But the main thing Spooks shows the reader is what it was really like for two people who met and fell in love in Hell.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Slusser, James P.

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