Kanaga Diary: Lost in the Aleutians, 1938 by Estelle Lauer

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MWSA Review

Kanaga Diary—Lost in the Aleutians, 1938 by Estelle Gibson Lauer is a moving tribute compiled and written by a daughter in memory of her father. Lauer’s father, Navy Chief Pharmacist's Mate Royce Rainey Gibson, unexpectedly and inexplicably disappeared into the wilderness after setting out for a hunting trip on January 18, 1938, while serving on a remote outpost in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain.  Relying primarily on her father's letters and his diary entries, she documents the details associated with her father's final days and months.

A combination of Lauer's observations, as well as her father's various writings, provide an interesting look into the pre-World War II time frame in general.  The book also provides a thorough accounting of Gibson's experiences—both during his years of Navy service and while braving the barren wilderness in the middle of the Aleutian Islands.  The author’s description of how her mother, sister, and she came to grips with the loss of a well-loved husband and father are particularly poignant.  

Although the specifics of Gibson's disappearance will likely never be unraveled, the reader will certainly get a detailed look at one man's struggle to deal with the elements, boredom, and the challenges of family separation.  Perhaps more importantly, you’ll appreciate how one family learned to cope with loss and move on with their lives.

Review by John Cathcart (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

It’s the winter of 1937-’38. World War II is brewing. At a remote duty station on Kanaga Island, Alaska, in the middle of the Aleutian chain, eight men are engaged in a U. S. Navy mission whose aim is secret even from them. Six of the men record weather data and monitor radio communications between Japanese fishing boats. A seventh is the cook. The eighth man, the medic, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Royse Gibson, has little to do — no one in this small contingent gets sick, no one is injured. There will be no mail in or out for months, and radiograms, the only other means of communication with home, are expensive and difficult to arrange. So Gibson keeps a diary in the form of letters to his wife and two young daughters, to be mailed if ever it’s possible. Then one day Gibson and the cook go seal hunting, and disappear without a trace. Gibson’s letters, finally delivered to his family months later, comprise half of "Kanaga Diary," detailing his daily routine and his far more interesting spare-time activities on the island. The other half of this “double memoir” is his daughter Estelle’s story of the family, struggling, eventually moving on, but keeping his memory alive. In 1995, fifty-seven years after the loss of her father, Estelle and her husband set out on a long-planned visit to Kanaga, to investigate her father’s disappearance and to finally say goodbye.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-99700-328-4
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir, Nonfiction, History
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 132
 

Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln's Bodyguard by Tj Turner

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MWSA Review

T.J. Turner’s Land of Wolves is in some ways alternative history. In his first book of this series, Lincoln’s Bodyguard, Abraham Lincoln does not die at the hands of an assassin at Ford’s Theater. Instead, his half-Indian bodyguard, Joseph Foster, manages to kill John Wilkes Booth. Then Joseph and Lincoln team up to stop a Consortium of industrial magnates who are trying to seize control of the U.S. government to benefit their own financial goals. Land of Wolves jumps forward in time to the 1870s, only to find that the forces of the evil Consortium still pursue Joseph and the “Old Man,” Lincoln. Now their evil designs also threaten to steal the Great Plains from the Native American tribes who live there.

The storyline of the book is in every sense a “thriller.” Without too much emphasis on characterization or settings, the author relies on non-stop action—bloodshed, violence, torture, rape, brutality, and revenge dominate the pages. One life-threatening event follows another until the reader must surely believe all is lost. Plot twists change the outcomes with dizzying frequency. The same lost and stolen knife keeps cropping up whenever the hero needs it. A child faces serial kidnappings and emerges bravely from each one, scarred but unbowed. The faithful woman saves the day—again and again. This is the stuff movies are made of. 

Review by Carolyn Schriber (Aug 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-202-4
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 336
 

Into a Dark Frontier by John Mangan

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MWSA Review

If you're a person who loves reading a thriller where the main character often enjoys near-superhuman powers—where the "bad guys" are unbelievably bad, and the "good guys" tend to be a bit shady—you'll probably want to give John Mangan's Into a Dark Frontier a try.  Mangan takes the reader on a dangerous journey, filled with nonstop intrigue—and plenty of action and violence.

In the book's early chapters, its main character, ex-Navy SEAL Slade Crawford, is forced to confront enemies who used to be his friends and brothers-in-arms.  He quickly jumps out of the American pan and into the African fire—where civilizational norms have broken down to the point of pure evil and savagery.  Slade's journey will prove to be an exciting and page-turning experience for the reader… as long as he or she is not too squeamish.

Review by John Cathcart (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

In the near future, Africa collapses into an enormous failed state, leaving the continent lawless and severely depopulated. For most, the breakdown brings horror, but for others—the outcast, the desperate, the criminal, and the insane—it allows unparalleled opportunity: a new frontier of danger and unlimited possibility. 

In America, ex-Navy SEAL Slade Crawford, emotionally crippled after twenty years of frontline combat, the dissolution of his marriage, and the accidental death of his son, is falsely accused of terrorism. Slade flees to Africa to build a new life and escape his past, but he is captured by an enigmatic American colonel, Gary Kraven, and blackmailed into tracking down a blood cult that is rampaging across the sub-Sahara. Struggling to stay alive and to free himself from Kraven’s grasp, Slade pursues the cult across the lawless African frontier. He soon learns that nothing is as it seems and that he is standing at the epicenter of a global struggle that will determine the course of history. Slade must decide whether to fight for his life or his honor—he can’t have both.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-261-1
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 356
 

Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life by Ginger Harrington

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MWSA Review

Let’s face it—holiness is no easy topic to write about! The whole concept of holy can feel esoteric, unwieldy and largely irrelevant to our daily lives. We tend to think of holiness as something that resides in the realm of the divine rather than the rough and tumble of daily life, right? 

Well, not exactly. After all, the Word is clear, “Be holy, as I am holy.” But how?

Perhaps this is what makes Holy in the Moment work. Ginger Harrington is no advocate for pious perfectionism or holier than thou religious endeavor. Holy in the Moment aspires to practical life strategies and meaningful moments that create patterns of holy living and right alignment with God. Harrington’s approach to holiness is less about religion than real life choices and meaningful relationship.

Holy in the Moment is a reminder of Richard Foster’s powerful insight into what he calls the principle of indirectionWe do not become holy by trying to be holy; we only become holy by growing into right relationship with God (Celebration of Discipline). God takes our small daily offerings of ourselves and makes something that far exceeds our wildest expectations. 

Harrington translates the spiritual disciplines into something less about regimen than real life choices and faith in action. Through her own journey of discovery, Harrington offers simple reminders and holy habits to enable us to live less self-centered and more God-centered lives.

Get real with God about your true feelings. Set the atmosphere in your home. Choose holiness over legalism. Count the cost of perfectionism. Make the sacred choice to forgive. Call someone else's unrecognized gift to the surface. Extend the gift of invitation. Get rid of toxic attitudes.

This pragmatic approach to holiness lays out a road map of intentional moments, daily behaviors, and practical decisions that reorient our lives and put us on the path to deeper relationship with God. Holiness is fruit--the supernatural byproduct of incremental change, daily surrender, and simple obedience. Only God can make us holy.

“Sacred simplicity is a secret to a life well lived,” the author writes, “when we make the most of all our moments for God to change our lives one spiritual choice at a time.”

Review by Dana Tibbitts (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Enjoying life (zoe) in Christ comes in the choices we make moment-by-moment. Transparently sharing her struggles with anxiety, fear, and insecurity, Ginger Harrington invites women to discover how intentional choices made in the moment can become holy habits that open the door to healing and freedom. With a refreshing perspective, she shows that holiness isn’t a rigid standard to keep but a gift to receive through a vital relationship with God, who makes us whole. Holy in the Moment explores the practical power of choices to grow in holiness without the pressure of perfectionism. Through gentle encouragement, biblical insights, and applicable ideas learn to discern feelings and overcome distractions and shame, adapt God’s equation for obedience, live a praying life, discover methods for practicing holiness in parenting and the importance of rest, embrace biblical love and forgiveness, and understand how work becomes holy. Find healing and wholeness with simple choices to love God, embrace truth, and enjoy every moment of life with practical ways to be holy by choosing to trust God, rely on his wisdom, and live from his resources.

ISBN/ASIN: ASIN: B074KM3D2W, ISBN: 978-1501857805
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Religious/Spiritual
Review Genre: Collections—Religious/Spiritual
Number of Pages: 227
 

T.A. for Military Kids: The Awesome Military Kid's Guide to Feelings by Leslie Nelson

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MWSA Review

"T.A. for Military Kids – the Awesome Military Kid’s Guide to Feelings” helps military children understand some of the unique feelings that come with being members of military families. “T.A.” stands for Transactional Analysis, a communications theory. Author Leslie Nelson designed the book to be read by an adult working with a child explaining different feelings and then asking children questions to help them explore their feelings. Stephanie Nelson provides colorful and descriptive illustrations to accompany the text and appeal to kids.

The author’s background as both a counselor and a member of a military family provide an understanding of the subject matter. The questions she asks keeps children engaged and thinking, without probing. She discusses the differences between military children and others including the not-so-great things including frequent moves, new schools, and parent deployments. She also suggests ways for children to replace bad feelings with good ones based on Dr. Claude Steiner’s research.

This is a book that fills a void for adults looking for methods to speak with military children about the realities of being members of military families. It is a good primer to get children talking. It speaks of good feelings, bad feelings, and reminds children to be proud of themselves and their families. This book is an easy read for adults and recommended to be read to eight- to-eleven-year-olds.

MWSA Review by Valerie Ormond (June 2018)


Author's Synopsis

A 2011 Department of Defense report approximates that 44 percent of military personnel have children. When the military enlists a service member, it enlists the entire family. These families make many sacrifices and deserve our respect and appreciation. T. A. for Military Kids: The Awesome Military Kids Guide to Feelings encourages military kids to feel proud of themselves and their contribution to the family, and proud to have a parent in the military, even if military life is challenging for them at times. A kid’s perception of an event like deployment is often very different from an adult’s. Depending on their age, kids may believe they are responsible for the deployed parent going away, while this thought would never enter an adults mind. The book talks about the normal feelings all kids have and then explains the possible emotions experienced by military kids when faced with the events of everyday military life, such as frequent moves, adjusting to new schools, absence of the military parent, and re-establishing family roles when the military parent returns. This guide helps military kids make sense of their experiences and understand that all of their feelings are normal and okay, even the challenging ones. For military parents, T. A. for Military Kids makes life a little easier by encouraging kids to talk about what’s going on in their heads.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-4624-0874-0 ASIN: B07922FNLH
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Picture Book
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Picture Book
Number of Pages: 40

The Gift of Significance: An Ordinary Soldier's Extraordinary Story of War by Robert DeBard

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MWSA Review

The Gift of Significance: An Ordinary Soldier’s Extraordinary Story of War is a gift of a story to readers. Told from “Smokin’ Joe” Brederson’s point of view, this honest account of a farm boy from Wisconsin’s journey through Army training, World War II, post-war France, and back home, is a significant work of military literature. Author Robert DeBard wrote this book in such a conversational manner that the reader experiences a closeness to Joe Brederson, genuinely seeing his emotions. 

Smokin’ Joe is anything but “ordinary.” He wants to fly, but he ends up training with the British commandos instead. Ironically, he ends up jumping out of the planes he was told he couldn’t fly due to his vertigo. He becomes one of the few to survive D-Day, parachuting in behind enemy lines. He continues fighting and standing up for his fellow soldiers in one hard battle after another. Besides Joe’s bravery, this book tells the story of a man who could be counted on time and again. But he’s not perfect, which helps paint the realistic picture of this man and those times.

This book is highly recommended for anyone looking for a glimpse into life during World War II. The author weaves in personal details and heartfelt feelings that make this book much more than just another war novel. At the end, the reader will be glad to have known Joe Brederson the man and his remarkable story.

Review by Valerie Ormond (Aug 2018)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems--including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors--which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

The amazing story of "Smokin' Joe Bredeson reads like fiction, except that it's true. Kept to himself for more than 60 years, the first person account moves well beyond his medals of war to a place of authenticity few veterans have been willing to venture with a message of sacrifice and salvation as relevant today as it was when he lived it. From parachuting in behind enemy lines on D-Day as a member of the renowned "Screaming Eagles" to the Battle of the Buldge where, as an Army Ranger, he finally hit the wall of traumatic stress ending up in a self-described "Loony bin," the reader is presented testimony to the price of freedom for this member of the Greatest Generation. His account of heroism and heartbreak will alert your senses, the vents will rivet your attention, and his ultimate triumph against all odds in post-war France will warm your heart.

ISBN/ASIN: Amazon e-book ISBN: 9781983109737, ASIN: B07DLN1HMV
Book Format(s): Kindle, Paperback
Genre(s): Memoir, Biography
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 217

The Final Flag by John Nevola

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MWSA Review

In John Nevola’s “The Final Flag,” a chance meeting in the hospital room of a mysterious World War Two veteran results in a continent-spanning hunt by four active-duty military sleuths who try to track down the fate of a group of elite paratroopers.

Swapping back and forth between past and present, Nevola transports the reader back in time to follow these warriors’ fighting through northern Africa, Italy, France, and finally in Belgium for Hitler’s last-gasp offensive--the Battle of the Bulge.  A remarkable level of detail and Nevola’s easy writing style puts you in the thick of battle with this group of elite, but overlooked military heroes.

Part of the so-called “Greatest Generation,” this group of veterans is made up almost exclusively of Italian Americans.  However, at this time in history, they didn’t consider themselves as part of a great generation.  In fact, they had to struggle against suspicion and bigotry, as many of their fellow Americans questioned their loyalty--and in many cases, didn’t even consider them “fully American.”

In many ways, “The Final Flag” is a genre-buster.  Although billed as a work of historical fiction, the book’s almost 500 pages are also crammed with a wealth of incredibly detailed historical facts.  For this reason, the book often has the feel of a history treatise, rather than a work of fiction.

This book will definitely appeal to those wanting to learn more about many of the early US military airborne units during the Second World War and the battles they fought.  However, MWSA reviewers also felt that the book would benefit from another editing run to address some noticeable technical issues. 

Review by John Cathcart (September 2018)


Author's Synopsis

An old soldier’s last request spirals into a worldwide search to recover the remains of seven missing GIs from World War II. A four-person team of both military and civilian volunteers conduct the investigation. All they have to work with is a list of names. Their only motivation is to honor the fallen and give closure to their families. Or is there some other unknown purpose at play? What seems like an impossible task becomes fraught with bombshell surprises. The Department of Defense refuses to cooperate. The investigators also unexpectedly uncover likely evidence of a conspiracy and cover-up at the highest echelons of the Army. The taint of ethnic discrimination becomes more evident as they delve into the investigation. Most of the names on the list were of Italian-American descent at a time when non-citizen Italian-American immigrants were considered enemy aliens. While some were arrested or detained in internment camps, others were forcibly displaced, had private property seized and suffered the degradation and humiliation of being targeted by the American government. All this while their sons served and died overseas. However, it turns out some of these seven men survived the War. It was a place to start. The four eventually narrow the search to two bastard independent parachute infantry battalions with troubled reputations. As they unravel the mystery, they also uncover scandalous indications of the contemptible mis-treatment of these two battalions at the hands of higher commands. Both units were annihilated at the Battle of the Bulge, ignominiously disbanded and their records burned. What was the Army hiding? The searchers stubbornly persist against all obstacles to uncover the fate of the missing men. To their amazement, what they discovered was spectacularly astonishing and would change lives forever. Proceeds from The Final Flag are donated to assist families of the fallen.

ISBN/ASIN: Hardcover: 978-1478728825, Paperback: 978-1432773488, Kindle: B07DMZ2VKD
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 493

The Tale of Buzz-Anna The Traveling Bee by Cathy-Ann M. Alexander

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MWSA Review

The Tale of Buzz-Anna the Traveling Bee by Cathy-Ann M. Alexander is a unique idea for a children's book. Buzz-Anna develops a wanderlust yearning for the bright lights of the big city. "One day I will leave and move to the big city, where the bee-utiful lights will shine and dance on my bee-utiful body! I will marry a city prince and have lots of bee-utiful ba-bees!""

Accompanied by bee-utiful illustrations, the reader/listener journeys with two adorable bees until Buzz-Anna makes the decision to strike out on her own to follow her dreams.

Review by Nancy Panko (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

The Tale of Buzz-Ann the Traveling Bee is the story about a little bee named Buzz-Anna who lives in the small town of Bees-Ville with her mother, Tree-Lisa, her father Comb-Ba, her sister Honey-Sha, and her brother Nest-er. Buzz-Anna hates her small town of Bees-Ville and dreams of moving to a big city. But day after day, Buzz-Anna finds herself still living in her small town. One day Buzz-Anna and her best friend Wax-Ann went exploring through the forest when they discovers a new world on the other side. Buzz-Ann knew that this was going to be her way out to the big city. The Tale of Buzz-Ann the Travelling Bee will take you on a journey as Buzz-Anna travels through her newly discovered world, to find a big city and follow her dream of finding and marrying a prince. The Tale of Buzz-Anna the Travelling Bee is a children’s book about following your dreams. This is a book written to remind children that they should never limit themselves, to think outside the box, and to always follow their dreams.

ISBN/ASIN: Soft cover- 9781546213840; Hard cover - 9781546213826; E-Book- 9781546213833; ASIN: B0796576PY
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Fiction, Picture Book
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Picture Book
Number of Pages: 38
 

African American Warrant Officers - Their Remarkable History by Farrell Chiles

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MWSA Review

The handsome red, white and blue cover of Farrell J. Chiles’ “African American Warrant Officers: Their Remarkable History,” promises stories of achievements and contributions of the too-long-unacknowledged men and women who have served as warrant officers of the United State Army—those men and women, that is, who administer, manage, maintain, operate and integrate “Army systems and equipment across the full spectrum of Army operations.”  A companion volume to Chiles’s earlier collection, “African American Warrant Officers: In Service to Our Country,” this volume honors the centennial of the Army Warrant Officer Corps by presenting individual vignettes of one hundred African American warrant officers. Chiles has compiled these profiles from a variety of sources, some submitted by individual authors, many written and published by Chiles himself in official newsletters such as the “Rocket” and the USAWOA (United States Army Warrant Officers Association) “Newsliner.”

Chiles opens the book with a short chapter defining Warrant Officer (“an adaptive technical expert, combat leader, trainer, and advisor”) and explaining the different grade, ranks and education system for warrant officers. This is followed by a brief overview of the one hundred year history of the Warrant Officers Cohort, established by Act of Congress on 9 July 1918. The main chapters of individual profiles are then grouped by information source such as newsletters, obituaries and Chiles’ earlier collection, “African American Warrant Officers: In Service to Our Country.”  Each vignette includes the accomplishments and awards of individual warrant officers along with one to three photographs, and many include personal anecdotes and quotations that provide fascinating glimpses into the warrant officers’ lives.
 “African American Warrant Officers: Their Remarkable History” is a handy research guide that offers a series of individual histories rather than the broader history of African American contributions to the Warrant Officer Cohort that the title seems to promise. For his dogged research, writing and publication over the years, we owe a debt of gratitude to Farrell J. Chiles.  His work provides the inspiring first steps needed in illuminating the remarkable history of African American serving their country as warrant officers in the U. S. Army.

MWSA Review by Nancy Arbuthnot (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

African American Warrant Officers - Their Remarkable History is a compilation of articles, biographies, and stories about African Americans who served or are serving in the United States Army Warrant Officers Corps. The book is in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary of the Warrant Officers Corps (1918-2018). There is an African proverb that says "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." This historical book tells the history of African American Army Warrant Officers. Their history is rich and their achievements and contributions to the United States and the United States Army are remarkable. This book allows African American Army Warrant Officers to tell their stories.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-63263-785-7
Book Format(s): Hard cover, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): History, Biography, Reference
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Reference
Number of Pages: 258
 

Chopper Heroes by William Peterson

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MWSA Review

This read will take your breath away.  The harrowing details faced daily by Vietnam chopper crew members are vividly presented.  Each brief and deeply personal story creates new visuals of the daily fight to stay alive.  Powerfully moved, I felt back in time--similar to punching big buttons on a 60's jukebox full of deep cuts during that era.  However, this book's selections were not classic music from long ago.  Instead, in an amazing fashion, Chopper Heroes records ordeals faced by our bravest young men in service that are far more powerful than the music back then.  Simply stated, I highly recommend this book to those who appreciate valor and enjoy history about potentially forgotten warriors.

Review by Hodge Wood (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Chopper Heroes ~ Have Guns Will Travel will introduce many of the survivors of the nasty war in Vietnam. The true, interesting, gut-wrenching and often thrilling stories you are about to read are from men whom I am honored to know. Many of the words written here are theirs from interviews I have done. As a storyteller, I have tried to recapture the events as they happened forty-five plus years ago. The narrative and scenes created here are mostly true, and the dialogue is written for all audiences from teenagers to adults, men and women alike.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781981656943    ISBN-13: 978-1981771561    ISBN-10: 1981771565
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Religious/Spiritual
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 130
 

The Consultant by Tj O'Connor

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MWSA Review

The Consultant by Tj O'Connor introduces us to a consultant for the CIA who likes to work alone and to do things his way.  His superior believes in sharing information on a need-to-know basis and knows his rogue agent well.  Information about Hunter's professional and personal lives are shared with the reader as the story evolves; both are complicated.  He arrives home in Virginia in response to a message from his older brother only to witness his brother's dying words.  He learns of his brother's family as he struggles with relating to various law enforcers.  It's unclear who can be trusted.  As he searches for his brother's murderer, he stumbles into much bigger problems as terrorist attacks on civilians escalate and the country seems to be drifting toward another Middle East conflict.  At times Hunter uses self-deprecating humor that endears the character to readers.  His humor makes the "consultant" more likable in spite of his history of doing horrific things in his line of work.  A timely story worth reading.

Review by Nancy Kauffman (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

When a rogue CIA consultant goes AWOL from his Middle Eastern post in response to his brother’s plea for help, he arrives just in time to witness his brother’s murder. For years, Jonathan Hunter and his brother Kevin Mallory had not spoken—until Kevin’s final words, “… Khalifah … Not Them … Maya.” Pursuing his brother’s killer, Hunter stumbles into a nest of horrifying terrorist activity by Middle Eastern refugees, which sparks a backlash across America. In the shadows, Hunter’s mentor, the omnipotent Oscar LaRue, is playing a dangerous game with Russian Intelligence. Neither Hunter nor LaRue realizes that a new threat—the Iranian threat—has entered the game. Stakes rise as two shadowy players are one step ahead of Hunter and LaRue—Khalifah, a terrorist mastermind, and Caine, a nomadic assassin who dances with the highest bidder. As attacks escalate and the country drifts toward another Middle East conflict, innocent refugees become trapped between the terrorists and the terrorized. Prejudice, hate, and fear vent everywhere. Is this who we’ve become? Before the country explodes, Hunter must find Khalifah, learn the next terror target, and pray he’s in time to stop further annihilation.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-283-3
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 432
 

Air Force One by Nicholas Veronico

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MWSA Review

Air Force One, The Aircraft of the Modern U.S. Presidency by Robert F. Dorr and Nicholas A. Veronica is the first in-depth history of the iconic airplane with the call sign "Air Force One" indicating that its passenger is the president of the United States. The book is rich in detail and has all manner of fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses into the flight, operation, and impact of Air Force One. As the authors point out, though people think that Air Force One is the Boeing 747 painted in presidential livery, the call sign actually refers to any aircraft in which the president flies (the exception being the Marine helicopter he uses, whose call sign is "Marine One"). Covering sixty years of history, it is loaded with historical photos and contains many interviews of people who worked at varying aspects of the aircraft. An important addition to the history of the presidency and aviation.

Review by Dwight Zimmerman (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

The presidential plane wasn’t always known as Air Force One. FDR traveled in the Guess Where II, a transport version of the heavy bomber four-engine Liberator. Later presidential aircraft included the Dixie Clipper and Sacred Cow (FDR), Independence (Truman), Columbine I and II (Eisenhower), followed by Air Force One.

For the last sixty years Air Force One has seen every president and first lady through each administration's triumphs and tragedies, and has flown over a million miles around the globe.

Featuring new and unseen photography of the presidential aircraft, aviation expert and author Nicholas A. Veronico brings the story of the mighty aircraft up to date; detailing how the plane has adapted to the digital age, and what to look forward to as Boeing updates the aircraft once more for 2024.

Get ready to fly!

ISBN/ASIN: 9780760357996
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): History
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 160
 

Bandits Below by David Brown

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MWSA Review

In Bandits Below, Marine Air-Ground Team in Pursuit of the Bandit Sandino, author LtCol David Brown, USMC (Ret.) has penned a fast moving historical novel.  Based on true historical events, Brown tells the story of the U.S. Marines early attempts at integrating air and ground forces. Set in the mountainous regions of northeastern Nicaragua, an expeditionary Marine force has been given the task of capturing the bandit, Augusto Caesar Sandino. Sandino declared himself a revolutionary leader and has set his sights not only on Nicaragua but a large portion of Latin America.

The author does a great job in describing the military units, tactics used, and then goes a step further in walking the reader through the learning curve of using early airpower effectively with ground troops. There were no study guides back then. Remember this is the day before radio communications, so the forces on the ground and in the air had to develop basic methods of communications with each other. Brown draws the reader into the story so you almost feel like you're watching the story unfold rather than reading about it.

Although the reader may have to overlook a few editing problems (especially in the Spanish language excerpts), this is a great read for anyone interested in military history or air power in general.

Review by Bob Doerr (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps. 22-years of active duty. Two tours in Vietnam, serving both as an advisor and rifle company commander during 1967-1969 at height of the war. Earned Silver Star Medal. Instructed economics at the U.S. Naval Academy and headed the Marine Corps Procurement Budget. Upon retirement, consulted to the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy. Executive Director of the Second Marine Division Association and Chairman of the Board for the Carolina Museum of the Marine. Wrote published over 15 articles in the Marine Corps Gazette and Amphibious Warfare Review. Authored books on training, automated information systems, and logistics. First novel, Battlelines, is an historical fiction written about the gallant men of Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment during their five-year deployment to Vietnam. Gold Award 2006 MWSA. Holds an MBA from George Washington University and a BA from Denison University.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-64138-655-5
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 327
 

The Mark of Wu: Hidden Paths by Stephen M. Gray

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

 If you enjoy a descriptive historical fiction read, filled with plenty of action and palace intrigue, then you won’t be disappointed in Stephen M. Gray’s The Mark of Wu—Book One: Hidden Paths!

Set during China’s Eastern Zhou (Chou) Dynasty’s Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 BC), the main character, Yuan, faces peril from all sides. His family has fallen out of favor with King Ping of Chu due to the internal scheming of powerful members of the court. Yuan is determined to regain that favor through a victorious battle. He is a gifted commander and well respected by his men. His aptitude for leadership and tactics is well known. But circumstances beyond his control plunge him into a deadly game of survival after a decisive engagement is lost—through no fault of his own.

Prince Chien, King Ping’s heir apparent, has been exiled and with him Yuan’s family. When King Ping executes Yuan’s father and brother, the commander must use all his wiles to keep Prince Chien’s family from being next on the block. And so begins an incredible journey through the countryside, evading guards who chase them at every turn, unforgiving terrain, and lack of provisions. The survivors finally end up in the hands of an old enemy whom Yuan must now persuade to keep them safe.

Gray’s knowledge of the period’s weaponry and battle strategy is educational and fascinating. His characters are well-developed and credible. The details of the story are vivid and the language used colorful. Despite noticeable errors in editing, the tale is engrossing.

Review by Sandi Cowper (September 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Ancient China, 519 B.C. Yuan, a State of Chu warrior, stands front and center on his chariot, reins in hand, holding at bay a spirited team of horses. He is anxious for a chance to unleash his rage on the invading Wu barbarians in the battle before him. His eyes fix enviously on a fellow soldier, a halberdier who extends his hooked weapon over the shoulder of an enemy who desperately sprints away from the charging chariot. Yuan knows the result before it happens. The wicked blade rips through flesh and muscle, then sinks into the enemy’s collar bone as screams echo off the Dabie Shan Mountains. 

Yuan glances toward Field Marshall Wei Yue, thirsting for the order to charge into the fray. He needs this fight to restore his family’s honor. But on the march to battle, Chu’s brilliant General Yang Gai dies, and the less capable Wei Yue snatches control. Can the newly anointed Field Marshall rise to the challenge?
 
The Emperor has lost his grip on the feudal States, and brutal rivalries, both new and old, now rule. Individual States constantly collide, and noblemen must rise in power to overcome the crushing will of warring factions. Only two outcomes are possible - prevail or perish. 

Yuan finds himself catapulted into the throes of treacherous enemies, not only on the battlefield but also at home. This superior warrior will need all his skill and cunning to stay alive. 

Hidden Paths is the first book in The Mark of Wu series. It opens as the Spring and Autumn Period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty devolves toward the Warring States Period.


ISBN/ASIN: ISBN: 9780999007105 / ASIN: B07B49T2JR
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 383
 

The Wicked Problem of Cultural Heritage and Conflict by Christopher Herndon and Joris Kila

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Though only 134 pages long, "The Wicked Problem of Cultural Heritage and Conflict" is a surprisingly thorough examination of the reasons behind the destruction of culturally significant sites, artifacts, and living creatures in times of conflict and of the institutions and laws in place. The authors provide not only numerous examples, but also identify relevant institutions and international laws devoted to protecting them. They also examine the diverse motivations behind the devastation of looting, trafficking, and outright destruction, and how even the language used to describe such incidents has evolved and become a point of contention. The many recent examples mentioned in the book highlight the scope of the problem and how urgent is to find solutions to solve it. "The Wicked Problem of Cultural Heritage and Conflict" is a good primer for someone looking to better understand this international tragedy.

Review by Dwight Zimmerman (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

The Wicked Problem of Cultural Heritage and Conflict: Military involvement in the protection and devastation of Cultural Property.

The world’s cultural heritage is currently not only threatened by time, nature, and human development and also increasingly by armed conflicts. We see destructions caused by looting and illicit traffic but also iconoclasm and manipulations of cultural heritage for political, religious, economic, and propaganda reasons. Revenues derived from the illegal selling are often used to finance conflicts as illustrated in the Da’esh business model example in this publication. Cultural Property Protection (CPP), while legally mandatory under national and international law, are poorly implemented and sanctions are rarely enforced. There is however, a constant and international demand for education and outcomes of multidisciplinary research on the topic, especially in the context of conflict and crime.

Research must include military perspectives, and common mechanisms connected to abuse and protection. Outcomes should contain academic conceptualization, as well as practice based solutions to diminish and mitigate damage. To meet demands while expanding, and following up on their previous works, the authors wrote this publication. It contains a selection of case examples and incorporates recent developments and trends. All ingredients serve to feed research and dialogue about the use and abuse of cultural heritage especially in the event of conflict, with a focus on cooperation and coordination between civil stakeholders and military parties.

A selection of identified fundamental CPP problems is discussed as part of a comparative analysis with field examples such as the Dugong case, an illustration of overlap between cultural and natural heritage coined as hybrid heritage. Other cases include events in Libya, Estonia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Mali. All are weighed against Horst Rittel’s wicked problems theory and other concepts while involving new notions of securitization, politicization, memorialization and propagandization of cultural property. Last but not least, the authors signal within circles of IO’s, NGO’s and Governmental parties involved in the management and protection of heritage, an increase of bureaucratic behavior and political use of mankind’s cultural heritage contributing to the current deplorable situation.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9994932-1-2, 978-0-9994932-2-9, 978-0-9994932-0-5
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction, Reference
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Reference
Number of Pages: 134
 

Eddie and Bingo : Destination Christmas by Kathleen and Katherine Taylor

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Eddie and Bingo: Destination Christmas by Kathleen Taylor and Katherine L. Taylor is a delightful children’s picture book based on the life of a U.S. Navy sailor. As a sequel to Eddie and Bingo: A Friendship Tale, this book explores the life of a naval combat photographer during the years of the Korean War. The book is a heartwarming tale of normal everyday ship life as well as time spent ashore. Eddie, our “hero” is a regular guy whose kindness and compassion shine through in all he does. After Christmas leave is cut short and Eddie is ordered to return to the ship, the sailors find a meaningful way to share Christmas where they are stationed. And what about Bingo, the dog Eddie discovered on board in the previous book? Rest assured he makes an appearance in this book too, bringing joy to children and sailors alike.

Eddie and Bingo is engagingly illustrated, and children will identify particularly with the facial expressions of the characters throughout the book. They will also find enough detail to capture their attention while someone reads the words of each spread.  A brief glossary of navy terms as well as some fun facts are found in the back, along with some of the actual photos taken by the Navy photographer who is the inspiration for this book.

For those who love the Navy or are interested in learning more about combat photographers, this book will provide exceptional conversations with your young ones.

Review by Betsy Beard (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Eddie's Christmas Destination is uncertain. Will he fly home to New York City for the holidays?Could he stay in Hawaii fulfilling the admiral's photo assignments? Would the Navy send him back to Japan to be reunited with his pup, Bingo? See what develops this Christmas?

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-62901-538-5
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Creative Nonfiction, History, Biography, Picture Book
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Picture Book
Number of Pages: 48
 

Flowers from Afghanistan by Suzy Parish

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

In “Flowers from Afghanistan” by Suzy Parish, the narrator, Mac, grieving the death of his young son, leaves his wife of seven years at home to accept a year-long position in Afghanistan training police officers. Through his friendships with military and civilian Americans on base and a local contract worker, Gil, and his young son, Mac begins to understand that others’ lives are also filled with pain, and that his attempts to ignore or escape from suffering are fruitless. Although Mac resists Sophie and her faith in God for a long while, in the end he discovers the redemptive power of love.  

Set mainly in Afghanistan, the novel is filled with intriguing glimpses into life in an exotic, war-torn country. The author presents interesting details (many of which, the author acknowledges, come from her husband’s descriptions of his experiences as a police trainer in Afghanistan) of the Afghan countryside and customs as well as life on base. For example, Mac at one point notes that in Afghanistan “beards were honored as the sign of an elder.” At their best, the images reveal a character’s feelings or mindset, as when Mac compares the bright orange sky to “the color of ice cream on a stick I bought as a kid” or when he notes how Sophie, clearly disappointed in his lack of responsiveness, “unwrapped herself from my arm, like removing last year’s worn jacket.” While reading, I often found myself marveling at the strength of an image or a bit of dialogue, such as the time when Sophie asks Mac, who gives her so little emotional support, “Can’t you just pick me up some flowers?” 

“Flowers from Afghanistan,” directed at a Christian audience, is about redemption from suffering. Mac, despite his obtuseness, does grow in faith and ability to love. To me, however, despite the novel’s exemplary use of metaphorical language, Mac and the other characters remain essentially flat and one-dimensional, and the most crucial relationships lack development. Little Mac’s death and Mac’s flight to Afghanistan, for instance, both come too quickly in the book, so that we aren’t immediately drawn into the story and don’t really understand Mac’s motivations. While perhaps not sophisticated enough for a wide adult audience, with some revision “Flowers from Afghanistan” could appeal to YA readers.
 
MWSA Review by Nancy Arbuthnot (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base---including a local barber and his precocious little boy---Mac's heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there's still something---and someone---worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 978-1-5223-0116-5  ASIN B07BZ2CWXQ
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Literary Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 200
 

Jungle in Black by Steve Maguire

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Brutal, compassionate... a soldier copes with blindness.

"Jungle in Black" is a raw-boned, "tell it as it is" book that takes a young Airborne Ranger officer from being injured on patrol in Vietnam to recovery in an Army field hospital to Japan,  and finally to Walter Reed Army Hospital in our nation's capital. 
Written in a vivid style that puts us in the shoes of the soldier, we experience the agony of a grenade exploding near our head, the terrifying blackness of a hospital, the hopes of seeing with one damaged eye dashed, and the realization that a cherished Army career is over.

Steve Maguire does not mire us in self-pity nor in the Pollyanna-ish euphoria of conquering blindness. Instead, he lays out a painful path of disappointment, void of a future in the Army, to a functioning man who can hold his own in a barroom brawl. Chock full of humorous incidents, such as wheelchair races down the hospital halls to profane escapades on frequent passes to the Goal Post, a neighborhood bar, one laughs and cries with the author. 

A college co-ed befriends him, helps turn his life around, and gives him purpose in life. They marry and have six children. He continues his studies and has a career with the Department of the Army as a civilian.

"Jungle in Black" is the tale of one soldier's long journey home from Vietnam. It is a true story of overcoming adversity. It is a story that falls into the "must read" category.

Review by Joe Epley (May 2018)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems—including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors—which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

The True Story of One Soldier's Long Journey Home from Vietnam

This is the memoir of Steve Maguire, a decorated young Airborne Ranger, infantry officer who commanded a 9th infantry Division battalion reconnaissance platoon in the Mekong Delta.  It was there in November 1969 while on am airmobile operation that an exploding Viet Cong mine blinded him for life.

He lost his sight but not his courage.

Jungle in Black is an honest first-person account that never wallows in self pity as the author reassembles his life in a country that had turned its back on the war. Set in Long An Province. Vietnam, Camp Zama. Japan, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, this powerful yet often witty human drama details one man's successful struggle against the war's desolation.


ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-49230-332-9
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 423
 

The Perfection of Valor by Bob Mustin

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Bob Mustin has written another fine book in The Perfection of Valor. A quick and easy read, the author writes about the events of August 29, 2005, perhaps most notable to many for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.

However, in The Perfection of Valor, Mustin uses Katrina as one of his many subplots to pile on the stress affecting Cary Fletcher as August 29 is also the day Cary is supposed to be getting married. While the approaching storm indirectly has its affect on Cary, he is living upstate in Louisiana, and his concern is for his bride's sister still in New Orleans. The larger scenario affecting Cary is one he's had to endure since childhood, his relationship with his father, a highly decorated Marine now suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home. On the morning of the day he is to be married, Cary introduces Cornelia, his fiancé, to his father, only to have his father insult Cornelia and display his racial prejudice.  On top of this, Cary discovers that his father may have hit his mother, bruising and cutting her face. The author has tossed all this on his protagonist on the day of his planned wedding.  I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys literary fiction, and especially to those who might want to discover how this book ends. 

MWSA Review by Bob Doerr (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Colonel Fletcher Hinton, USMC, retired, has had a storied career, but one aspect of his life remains wanting as his end approaches: family. Son Cary, a former Marine and now a college professor, is about to marry outside his race, and the old man, suffering a bout of dementia, insults Cary's fiancee. Too, Cary has moved his mother away from Fletcher, fearing the old man has hit her. This then is Fletcher Hinton's final contest – proving himself a good father and husband as he battles dementia and the stain that seems to tarnish his name and, through him, the Corps.

ISBN/ASIN: 987-1642556889/B07BPDRQ7S
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Fiction, Literary Fiction, History
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 208
 

War in the Company of Medics: Poems of the 45th Surgical Hospital in Vietnam by John J. Candelaria

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

War in the Company of Medics, by John J. Candelaria, uses short narrative and imagistic poems to present a tale of war from the perspective of the executive officer of a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit in Vietnam in 1969-70. Taken together, Candelaria’s thirty poems, offering vivid images of blood-soaked hands, a severely wounded commander promising “I’ll walk again,” the body of an enemy combatant caught in concertina wire, and spring rain falling amid bombs, ponder the consequences of a politically questionable war.

Most of the poems are composed in free verse lines, but several use rhyme or poetic forms such as the villanelle, haiku, and what Candelaria calls a “found poem in a Sijo sequence,” in which the titles of all the poems are included in the last poem to help create an overview of the entire poetic sequence. Most of the poems employ an objective, almost anonymous narrative voice that is quite effective.  The poems reach their best, I think, when they are most abstract and cryptic, creating scenes that could be overwhelming if relayed in a more subjective, personal manner: “Scissors cut uniforms, wounds/ pressed to keep life in”; “Blades slice the morning calm./ Dustoff arrives”; “Again, the body shudders,/ the boot strikes/ as if to wake the sleep of death.” 

Although the author occasionally concludes a poem by repeating a phrase or otherwise interpreting the scene that do not enhance the already powerful vignettes (as, for example, in “Slice of Time,” which ends with the comment “I left the morgue never/ to forget that slice of time”), overall these poems are memorable and striking. The “calm expertise” and “relentless sense of urgency” that Candelaria ascribes to the members of his surgical unit describe as well the driving tone of this work. This is a strong and significant collection.

Review by Nancy Arbuthnot (June 27, 2018)


Author's Synopsis

During the Vietnam War, MAJ John J. Candelaria served as Executive Officer of the 45th Surgical Hospital. The poems and photographs in this collection reflect the anguish resulting from soldiers wounded and killed in the line of duty. John's tribute poems to the 45th Surgical Hospital are expressions that embrace in words the courage, duty, and valor of those who served with distinction at the 45th MASH.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9861604-1-7
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Poetry Book
Review Genre: Poetry—Poetry Book
Number of Pages: 52