Unseen Body Blows by William Gay

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Author's Synopsis

There have not been many books written that are an in-depth look at the brief operational life of a World War Two landing ship tank (LST) in the Pacific Theater and how it fits in into the broader context of the war.

Unseen Body Blows takes a close look at one of the earliest of these unique ships, LST 479, and explores its life from launch to scrapping. It also reflects the ship’s role in the broader strategy of the Pacific War as the U.S. forces island-hopped towards the Japanese homeland. By extension, it also incorporates the history of other LSTs that fought alongside the 479—especially many of the 15 that were built at Henry Kaiser’s shipyards in Richmond, Ca.

Between 1942 and 1945, 1,051 amphibious tank-landing ships were rapidly produced. Even with that large inventory, they have been virtually ignored by historians.

These were anonymous vessels, slow and unwieldy. They had no names—just numbers. In the words of one crewmember, they looked like bathtubs. LSTs had a reputation of being expendable and of relatively low value, and so were bestowed another, less noble, nickname; “Large Slow Targets.”

They were put into service to get troops and equipment ashore. Typical of all early LSTs, 479 crew members on commissioning day, April 19, 1943, were raw amateurs. But over the next 1,046 days, the 479 crew became sailors as they coped with collisions, accidental groundings, navigational errors, lots of mechanical breakdowns—and the enemy. Displaying heroism and ingenuity, they rescued the crew of a crippled landing craft during an Alaskan storm, battled fires aboard a burning LST hit by kamikazes, and fought off air attacks. Through all this, the 479 landed troops and equipment at Kiska, the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands, New Guinea, the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, and Okinawa.

In gripping, meticulously researched, “you are there” fashion, author William A. Gay, recounts the fascinating history of the 479’s seven Pacific campaigns; from the day-to-day life of the men aboard her to their terrifying encounters in battle as they delivered “unseen body blows” to the enemy that helped win the war in the Pacific. Unseen Body Blows is listed on the suggested reading list page of Navsource.org.

Genre(s): Nonfiction, History
Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-5255-3833-9, 978-1-5255-3834-6, 978-1-5255-3835-3

The Amphibians Are Coming! Emergence of the 'Gator Navy and its Revolutionary Landing Craft by William L. McGee

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Author's Synopsis

A biographical history of the revolutionary World War II landing craft and the unsung heroes who manned them.

  • Provides a brief history of amphibious warfare, from the Revolutionary War to the 1942 Guadalcanal and North Africa campaigns.

  • Puts the reader aboard the revolutionary landing craft designed and built to speed assault troops directly to the beach.

  • Profiles the famed "Green Dragons," the high-speed destroyer transports that filled a pressing Marine Corps need for ship-to-shore delivery prior to the availability of the new landing craft.

  • Focuses on the "Earlybird" Flotilla Five LCTs, LSTs and LCIs and their crews, from landing craft design and construction, to amphibious training and crew and flotilla formations, and to on-the-job warfare training in the Southern Solomons -- all in preparation for their first invasion of enemy-held territory, Operation TOENAILS.

FROM THE FOREWORD
"McGee combines exhaustive research with the words of the men who took the theory of the amphibious doctrine and the new machines to sea. His dedicated work will surely help keep the day-to-day naval record of the 'Greatest Generation' from being lost."
- John Lorelli,  author "To Foreign Shores, U.S. Amphibious Operations in WWII"
 
110 b/w photos, 13 maps, plus charts, appendices, notes, bibliography, and index.

OTHER TITLES IN THE SERIES:

Vol. II, THE SOLOMONS CAMPAIGNS, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville, Pacific War Turning Point. Winner of the Military Writers Society of America 2018 Silver Medal Award for History.

Vol. III, PACIFIC EXPRESS: The Critical Role of Military Logistics in World War II

Pacific Express: The Critical Role of Military Logistics in World War II by William L. McGee

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Author's Synopsis

PACIFIC EXPRESS is on the Marine Corps Commandant's Professional Annual Reading List for Logistics.
 
Under one cover, an edited collection of the best works by military historians on the importance of military logistics in WW II. 
 
Consider this: In World War II, 16.1 million men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For every individual who served in combat, there were ten supportive personnel, both overseas and on the home front. Victory may be won or lost in battle, but all military history shows that adequate logistics support is essential to the winning of the battles. 


The editors profile the major components that made up the "Pacific express" in WWII including:

U.S. Navy Seabees and U.S.Marine Corps Engineers who built the Advance Bases.

U.S. Navy crews who manned the amphibious force and Fleet s floating mobile Service Squadrons throughout the vast reaches of the Pacific.

U.S. Merchant Marine and U.S.Naval Armed Guard who manned and defended the thousands of WSA cargo ships,transports, and tankers to "deliver the goods."

U.S. Coast Guardsmen who manned hundreds of U.S. Army and Navy long-haul vessels and thousands of battle-loaded amphibious landing ships and craft.

111 b&w photos, 7 maps, 21 figures, tables & charts, plus appendix, notes, bibliography, and index.

FROM THE FOREWORD:
"As the grandson of three World War II veterans, read this book and you will understand what it took to win this war and why the men and women who made it happen are called the Greatest Generation."
- Dennis R. Blocker II, Pacific War Historian, USS LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) National Association

OTHER TITLES IN THE 3-VOLUME SERIES:
Vol. I, THE AMPHIBIANS ARE COMING! Emergence of the 'Gator Navy and its Revolutionary Landing Craft

Vol. II, THE SOLOMONS CAMPAIGNS, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville, Pacific War Turning Point. Winner of the 2018 Military Writers Society of America Silver Medal Award for History 

The Councilman by Glenn Starkey

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MWSA Review

In his book, The Councilman, author Glenn Starkey has penned another fast and enjoyable read. Set in eastern Texas in the 1950s, this story is about a veteran's search for his mother's murderer. Our protagonist, Cory Hunter Bramley, is a Korean War veteran who returns to his hometown and discovers that his mother is only one of several women brutally raped and murdered in a similar manner during the sixteen years he has been away from the town. Cory gets a job at the town's general hardware store and soon meets a wide variety of both good and evil individuals in the small town. Cory befriends another newcomer to town, a World War II vet who survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines and helps him get employment with him at the store. This friend is named Moses, carries a bible, recites scripture, and seems to know things about the future that he shouldn't. I found the book's conclusion somewhat unexpected and, as expected, satisfying. I recommend this book. 

Review by Bob Doerr (July 2019)


Author's Synopsis

In 1956 Morgan City, Texas, Cory Hunter Bramley has finally returned to learn the truth about his mother's murder. The killer may be gone, leaving Cory to chase ghosts, yet he's determined to know what happened that fateful day sixteen years ago. But truth comes in many forms. The town is under the thumb of a man who considers himself a king and makes Cory's search for truth more difficult. Five women have been brutally murdered since his mother and their killer remains at large as well. Cory must walk a dangerous maze of corruption, revenge, bootlegging, brutality and murder as he uncovers a bloody trail leading to the killer. But in the pursuit of justice, Cory didn't anticipate finding love with the forbidden Emily. The Councilman is a heartbreaking tale of vengeance, deceit, and the anguish of shattered souls wrapped in mystery and suspense.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-54394-100-5, 978-1-54394-101-2
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 234

The Batter's Box by Andy Kutler

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MWSA Review

The Batter’s Box is a tour de force—a riveting tale of baseball, war, and the human spirit. Many writers are skilled at conveying one particular niche or historical period. Andy Kutler does it all. The book begins with the story of an elderly woman. Her body is frail but her mind still sharp.  She has reached that point at the end of life when she is secure in her own identity, satisfied with the experiences life has brought her, and needing nothing more than a sympathetic ear to hear her story.

Then quickly, the scene shifts, and the author is taking the reader on a nostalgic trip to a baseball diamond. The air is thick with the smells of dust, sweat, peanut shells, and hotdog grease. It’s 1941. Baseball is the national pastime, and playing ball is the dream of little boys everywhere.  Talented players are heroes, and their names resonate with those of us who lived through the forties and fifties. The sports enthusiast might be content to follow Will Jamison and his baseball career to the end of the book.

But the author has much more in store for his readers. It’s now 1944, and our hero finds himself in Belgium, headed into a confrontation that will eventually become known as The Battle of the Bulge. Kutner spares the reader nothing as he describes in gruesome detail the sights, smells, and deafening sounds of battle. Irrational men and hulking machines of death confront each other and leave only ruin behind.

Enough? No. It’s now 1946, and Will Jamison is back from the war. Peace is settling over the land again, the baseball diamonds are calling, and relieved young men are leaping toward a chance to be a hero with a bat rather than a gun. Will wants to join them, but two invisible wounds hold him back —one deep in a thigh muscle and the other burrowing deep in his brain. In those post-war years, no one knew or understood the term PTSD, and it was certainly not clear to those most affected. A loud noise—a flashing light—almost anything could trigger an emotional outburst the sufferer was helpless to withstand.

At the end of the book, the author brings us back to the present, with a surprise ending that echoes and wraps the entire package into one satisfying conclusion. This is an amazing story—well-written, beautifully designed, and emotionally satisfying. It stands head and shoulders above most of the books I have read this year.

Review by Carolyn Schriber (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

In 1946, a returning World War II veteran is determined to reclaim his place among professional baseball’s upper echelon and win back the woman he once fell for. Two months into the new season, at the top of his game, he abandons his team, casting aside his fame and riches and vanishing forever from the public eye. What drives a man to walk away from everything he cherishes, never to be heard from again? The Batter’s Box follows the path of Will Jamison, a star player with the Washington Senators who enlists in the U.S. Army following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When the war ends, Jamison returns to Washington, a decorated hero tormented by deep emotional scars. Burdened with a crushing guilt and harrowing memories he cannot escape, Jamison’s life is consumed by an explosive temper, sleepless nights, and a gradual descent into alcoholism. He must also navigate public misconceptions about mental illness in the 1940s, and stigmas that often silenced those who suffered and drove veterans like Jamison into dark corners. Will he continue on, alone with his anguish and misery? Or will he level with those around him, including the woman he loves, and seek the professional care he desperately needs, even at the risk of exposing his secrets and shame?

ISBN/ASIN: 9781944353216,9781944353223,9781944353230
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 304

Living Waters by Ed Waldrop

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

Living Waters is the story of AJ McClellan, born in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He was raised and nurtured along her creeks and waterways. Tragic events in AJ’s young life tested him deeply, but it was the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City that moved him to action. Determined to serve in his country’s defense, AJ joined the Army right out of high school, eventually doing two combat tours in Iraq. He would later leave the Army a broken man, emotionally and spiritually. He lived a vacant life in central Texas until an unexpected death in the family brought him home and began a redemptive journey for him of new life, new love, and new hope.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 9781641111171, ASIN B07GX1593B (Kindle)
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 302 

Vietnam's Valleys of Darkness by H. J. Thomas

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MWSA Review

In his book Vietnam's Valleys of Darkness, author H.J. Thomas spins a tale of intrigue, combining combat with spies and smugglers. Never sure who is the good guy or gal and who isn't, Thomas's protagonist, Chief Warrant Officer Ray Bryant is simply trying to survive his third tour in Vietnam. When a fellow American soldier tries to kill him with a grenade, Bryant's worst suspicions become reality. When a Vietnamese waitress at the club on base warns him about an upcoming mission that she shouldn't know anything about, Bryant's faith in the system is again shaken. The author's own experience in the military intelligence and aviation can be felt and adds to the authenticity of the story, I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Vietnam war and /or military history. 

Review by Bob Doerr (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

It's 1968 and the war in Vietnam wears weary on all involved. Chief Warrant Officer Ray Bryant is on his third tour, and as a dual-rated U.S. Army aviator, he's not happy when he is temporarily reassigned to fly Hueys for the 5th Special Forces Group out of Kontum. Both crew and aircraft are tested to their limits, struggling against what usually accompanies missions with a "special" designation. Combat can always become confusing, but Bryant finds it nearly impossible to separate the bad guys from the good. Even Special Operations and the chain of command seem to have a dark cloud hanging over their policies and activities. Bryant's military training and experience are tested to the maximum as he seeks to maintain his military career and complete the mission requirements.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781091978720
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 305 

Read My Shorts by E. Franklin Evans

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Author's Synopsis

A collection of the author's short stories and personal experiences in exotic, faraway places. Join a soldier at the Battle of Fredericksburg as he "relives" the carnage. Visit Amelia Earhart's jail on a distant Pacific island. Meet an old curmudgeon in a home for the elderly; what a story he has to tell!

ISBN: 978-0-578-43639-5
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Collections—Anthology
Number of Pages: 125

Probe the Ocean, Plow the Sea: A Destroyer Sailor's Vietnam Era Odyssey by Paul Jewell

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MWSA Review

Probe the Ocean, Plow the Sea is a memoir that captures a time in our nation's military history through a personal telling of the author's own experiences. Not many people know much about our Navy's destroyers, let alone what it was like to be on a crew of one during the Vietnam War era. This is a very personal telling, through a well-written memoir, by a USN enlisted man, who was assigned on board one of those ships.

It was a time that our younger generations may never fully understand, nor appreciate the impact those times had on so many young men's lives in this nation. The author brings home to the reader some clarity, by sharing his own personal accounts of what his life was about and how he handled it all.

He also shares some insights on his unit's involvement and role in naval history for the closing months of the Vietnam War.

This should be a must-read for USN veterans and, I think, the greater audience of readers of military genre. I enjoyed reading Paul Jewel's memoir. I now feel like I know him personally.

Review by Bill McDonald (July 2019)



Author's Synopsis

“Probe the Ocean, Plow the Sea” chronicles, in prolific detail, the enlisted tour of duty of a destroyer sailor in the western Pacific during the Vietnam era. Naval memoirs tend to be written by senior commissioned officers or well-known biographers. Far less common is the view from the bottom looking up by junior enlisted sailors, particularly those who served in less glamorous surface ships such as destroyers. The lack of detailed U.S. Navy surface ship narratives is particularly chronic for the Vietnam War where if naval forces are acknowledged at all, it is generally the role played by naval aviation. Particularly overlooked is the important role cruisers and destroyers played in “Linebacker”, the final combat operations off North Vietnam in 1972. Author Paul Jewell joined the USS Richard B. Anderson in the closing phase of Linebacker and remained with the ship until 1974. Whether conducting combat operations at the close of the Vietnam War, suffering through prolonged yard periods, or gathering intelligence off the Korean peninsula, the ships of Destroyer Squadron 15 homeported in Japan were the point of the spear for U.S. foreign policy in half the world’s ocean. This memoir chronicles that history during the early years of the Anderson and other DESRON 15 ships forward deployment as seen through the eyes of an enlisted sonar technician.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781718722484
Book Format(s): Soft cover, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 254 

Duck Your Head and Keep On Going: A Marine Lieutenant's Passage Through Vietnam by John Booth

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

The author fought as a lieutenant in two wars in Vietnam. The first was a counterinsurgency against Viet Cong guerrillas that people today still do not understand. The second was a conventional war against the North Vietnamese Army. The book is both a personal memoir written over twenty years and a historical document backed up by extensive research of previously classified information. You will feel like you are living alongside the author as you and he together undergo the privations of war and the rigors of combat. You will learn the stories of his comrades as they lived and died and whose names appear on the Vietnam Wall today. Lieutenant Booth served as a forward observer with two rifle companies, a gunnery officer with an artillery battery, and a fire support coordinator with and infantry battalion where he lived a primitive existence. Ammunition, water and food were held-lifted in and dead and wounded were held-lifted out.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781732560901
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 211 

Hitler's Last Christmas: The Day the Entire Mighty Eighth Air Force Entered the Battle of the Bulge by Donald Kilburg Jr

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

Hitler's Last Christmas is the documentary story of the largest aerial bombing mission in history. On Christmas Eve 1944 the 8th Air Force launched a maximum effort mission to eliminate tactical targets that were supporting Hitler's surprise Ardennes Offensive. 2046 heavy bombers and 853 fighters, every flyable aircraft available to the 8th Air Force in England were dispatched to accomplish the objectives of the 8th's Mission 760. This book details the events of the day from formation to return through the stories of the participants and the official records of the day.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-9772-0639-8
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 309 

Baghdaddy: How Saddam Hussein Taught Me to Be a Better Father by Bill Riley

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MWSA Review

Baghdaddy: How Saddam Hussein Taught Me to Be a Better Father by Bill Riley is an insightful look at a time in history and into the life of a real warrior. It is an emotional journey that is so well told it feels like a classic novel. The author has a great way with words so that it feels like art on a canvas of paper and words. This book captures a piece of our lives and times that most of us just saw on the television news. 

The author constructs a background story of his childhood that allows the reader an insightful understanding of who this man was and why he saw his world around him as he did. His childhood was one of abuse and violence from his own father, all of which sets the outlook on the life of the author, as he treads down his own passageway of life. Lessons learned in childhood not only helped him deal with the war itself but also with his own fatherhood. 

The author is a talented wordsmith. The narrative truly fixes images into the mind and heart of the reader—a well written human experience, not just a war memoir.

Review by Bill McDonald (July 2019)


Author's Synopsis

As a child, he was raised in an unstable and violent home by a mother struggling with mental illness. An absent father with a firm belief in tough love left him with only his sister to understand or comfort him as they faced a home full of harshness, resentment, and physical abuse. As a man, he braved the war-torn landscapes of Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Having learned early from his father that only the strong survive, he enlisted in the Air Force after high school and began an impressive military career in intelligence analysis, communications, and supporting special operations, meeting incredible individuals along the way. Baghdaddy is Bill Riley’s memoir: an honest and colorful depiction of his journey through a turbulent youth and into a challenging adulthood. This very human account of living in some of the least humane environments delivers the message that no matter how different we seem, we are all trying to make the best of life and learn how to be the best versions of ourselves.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-61254-292-8
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 456 

They Called Him Doc: Joseph Guy LaPointe Jr by Linda Swink

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

A young widow sits at home considering all the “what ifs.” What if her husband hadn’t volunteered to go on that mission? He didn’t have to go. He was supposed to be on an airplane, flying to Hawaii for R&R to meet his wife and newborn baby. What if he had gotten into college before being drafted? He would have had a deferment. What if he had run off to Canada to avoid going to war? He’d be safe now. What if he hadn’t declared himself a conscientious objector? He wouldn’t have been assigned as a medic, running to the aid of his buddies, only to get killed. As a regular soldier he would have carried a gun instead of a medical bag. He would have been able to defend himself. He would be alive today. But “what ifs” never change anything and life goes on. They Called Him Doc is the story of a young man, not yet twenty-one, who gave his life for his fellow soldiers in Vietnam.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781093648188
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 203

Chains Of Nobility by Brad Graft

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

Duyal, a teenage nomad living on the vast Russian steppe, is captured during a Mongol invasion and forced on a long, deadly journey into the war-torn Middle East. Purchased by a Kurdish prince in eastern Turkey, his destination is an Islamic citadel, filled with similarly enslaved strangers and one merciless instructor—a man determined to purge the weaklings from his ranks and forge the survivors into Mamluks, Islamic Knights unmatched in wielding sword, arrows, and lance from atop Arabian steeds. When Duyal becomes entangled in his instructor’s schemes and his mates witness another comrade’s unjust execution, the recruits can take it no longer. Their wrath is unleashed. Chains of Nobility is the first book in the Brotherhood of the Mamluks trilogy. Set during the 13th century, the book is an immersive dive into the world of military slavery—a Muslim institution largely unheard of in the West, whose ranks ousted the Crusaders and Mongols from the Levant, preserving Islam. Chains of Nobility was recently selected as a finalist for the 2019 Colby Award, which "recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs."

ISBN/ASIN: 13:978-0999633854, 13: 978-0-9996338-2-3 , 10: 0-9996338-2-1
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 443 

Military Spouses with Graduate Degrees: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Thriving amidst Uncertainty by Leandra Hernandez and Jennifer N. Belding (co-editor)

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MWSA Review

They tell us that in order to become successful in life, all you need to do is see a need and fill it. Well, if that was applied to this book it could be a huge success in the military communities. I found myself truly educated. I was ignorantly unaware of the depth of the issues that our military spouses have to deal with.

The title does not give the proper seriousness of the problem, nor does it sound like a book you might wish to pick up and read. However, once I began reading all the personal stories from real people, it caught my attention. It became really clear that these spouses are making some huge personal sacrifices in their careers, lives, social status, educational opportunities, and even with their personal mental and emotional well being.

The book should be a must-read for colleges and universities that deal with military families. It should also be required reading for those in command positions at our nation's bases and forts, so that they have a better and clearer understanding of the true impact on families from deployments and moves.

The most important audience for this book is with the very people it was directly written for: military spouses themselves. The very same kind of people who shared their personal experiences between the covers of this book. This book truly has their DNA imprinted on the pages.

The editors take a resource book with data and information and make it very readable and understandable by adding so many different voices and viewpoints presented. I enjoyed reading the personal stories of sacrifice and supportive duty. The book presents the obstacles and the problems but also offers some practical wisdom to handling things, as passed on by the contributing co-creators of this book.

Every military spouse should have access to this book and read it. I believe this book has a mission and purpose. I salute the editors for putting this all together in this volume.

Review by Bill McDonald (July 2019)


Author's Synopsis

With contributors in the fields of communication, psychology, English, law, and others, Military Spouses with Graduate Degrees: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Thriving amidst Uncertainty utilizes interdisciplinary theories, methods, and approaches to study the educational and career experiences of military spouses with advanced degrees. The contributors to this volume analyze the challenges, struggles, and positive aspects of being a military spouse with an advanced degree in both academic and professional contexts. The chapters cover chronological approaches to academic and military identities; academic, professional, and military challenges; and strategies for enhancing academic, military, and professional life. This book expands upon the unique challenges military spouses encounter while in graduate school and while transitioning out of graduate programs into academic and professional contexts. It provides a new resource for military spouses, as well as military and academic researchers, scholars, and practitioners.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-4985-8208-7, 978-1-4985-8209-4
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Reference
Number of Pages: 267 

Lions of the Sky by Francesco Chierici

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MWSA Review

Paco Chierici’s first novel, Lions of the Sky, is an expertly woven story about the determination, sacrifices, and camaraderie of the fighter pilot community. The author, an accomplished fighter pilot himself with over 3000 hours and 400 carrier traps, puts his experiences, both good and bad, into the characters and action, and tells a story like only one who has “been there” can.

“Slammer” Richardson has seen it all as a Hornet pilot, and now he’s training the next crop of stick jockeys. But he has a secret, and survivor’s guilt, and issues with women combat pilots; and all of those will be challenged when he trains his final class, which features two female pilots, “Quick” and “Dusty.” Are they the real deal? Can Slammer keep his demons in check long enough to teach the class what they need to know, despite the distractions and his personal feelings?

Things don’t get any better when by a twist of fate Slammer, Dusty, and Quick are all in the same squadron a year later when rising tensions between Vietnam and China put them smack in the middle of a powder keg waiting to go off. Mettle will be tested and lives will be lost, but who will come out still standing when the showdown is over?

I particularly liked how well the author weaved in his personal experience into the characters. He used parts of his later career, when he was a seasoned aviator, in developing Slammer, and did an excellent job. The trepidation and uncertainty from the earlier part of his career, as he was training for a difficult and dangerous job, is apparent in the more junior aviators. Finally, I was impressed with how the intricate movements of aircraft in combat—second nature to a fighter pilot—were easily and clearly explained to the lay reader. You don’t need to be a pilot to understand the action so well written here.

Fans of air combat action or former tactical pilots from any service will appreciate and enjoy this book. Chierici hit a home run his first time at bat.

Review by Rob Ballister (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Sam Richardson is a fighter pilot’s pilot, a reluctant legend with a gut-eating secret. He is in the last span of his tour as an instructor, yearning to get back to the real action of the Fleet, when he is ordered to take on one last class—a class that will force him to confront his carefully quarantined demons. Brash, carefree, and naturally gifted, Keely Silvers is the embodiment of all that grates on him. After years of single-minded dedication, she and her classmates can see the finish line. They are months away from achieving their life-long dream, flying Navy F/A-18 fighters. They are smart and hard-working, but they’re just kids with expensive new toys. They’re eager to rush through training and escape to the freedom of the world beyond, a world they view as a playground full of fast jets and exotic locales. But Sam knows there is a darker side to the profession he loves. There is trouble brewing in the East with global implications. If they make it past him they will be cast into a dangerous world where enemy planes cruise the skies over the South China Sea like sharks, loaded with real weapons and hidden intentions.

ISBN/ASIN: B07NSGRXCZ,978-1640620728,9781640620674
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 292

Midnight Blues by Robert Kidera

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MWSA Review

Robert Kidera weaves a fast-moving story around Gabe McKenna on his first assignment as a private investigator. Midnight Blues is a suspenseful yarn—twisted in horrifying circumstance and sprinkled with humor—that starts with the kidnapping of the young son of an Indian friend.

Gabe and his partner Onion misread the kidnappers, losing the ransom money and the boy. Gabe gets shot, and his client is murdered. This leads them on a chase through New Mexico’s backcountry that reads like a travel log on out-of-the-way places not on the top of any places you want to visit. As they pursue the bad guys, they pick up a strange posse of a 90-year-old hermit driving a 70-year-old motorcycle, a dwarf toting a Tommy Gun, a female archaeologist, and a Native American big truck driver.

What started as two suspects grows to a human trafficking cartel that had abducted young girls, most of them Indian, from small towns. As Gabe and his crew play tag with the bad guys in running gun battles, they learn the cartel is headquartered in an old village that time forgot: Midnight. They find a back road to the ghost town. That task becomes more urgent with the news that the gang is leaving Midnight and taking their captives to another location. 

The FBI is called, but don’t arrive until after Gabe and friends engage the heavily armed cartel in a fierce battle that leaves most of the bad guys dead or wounded and their leader, improbably called Angel, trying to flee in an airplane. Gabe has to stop him as the others free the young prisoners.

This is the fourth in a series of Gabe McKenna action-packed novels that grabs your attention and doesn’t turn you loose until the last sentence of the last page.

 Review by Joe Epley (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 What kind of person would harm a child? Private Investigator and Vet Gabe McKenna tracks a young boy taken prisoner by a human trafficking cartel through the wilds of New Mexico. With the aid of unlikely friends, including a 94 year-old former WW II vet, himself a former prisoner-of-war, a race against time results in a bloody final showdown at a remote, deserted, mining town called Midnight. Who will be willing to pay the ultimate price and make a difference in this struggle for freedom?

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN: 978-1723845062 ASIN: B07H5V4VZ3
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 251

Gambit by Karna Small Bodman

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Gambit is the second book in Karna Small Bodman’s White House National Security Series. In this installment, Dr. Cameron Talbot, a brilliant young American scientist takes on the mystery of American civilian planes being shot down with no warning on radar and no claims of responsibility from any terrorist group. The result is panic for pilots, flight attendants, and potential flyers as well as the airlines and a falling stock market. Talbot continues to struggle with lack of support from her boss who is overridden by a request from the White House to solve this problem. As usual, she has an idea. She is once again paired with Lt. Col. Daniels, who left her without explanation after a romantic interlude in India, causing her much personal stress. When her name is leaked to the media as working on a solution, someone tries repeatedly to kill her.

Relevant details from the first book are nicely woven into this story so that it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Bodman’s knowledge of the White House, as a result of serving in the Reagan administration, allows her to include details of not only the buildings but also the complexities faced by any administration. The book would profit from a final proofreader as there are many typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors. However, these do not interfere significantly with this well crafted story.  

Review by Nancy Kauffman (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

The newly revised and re-released story of Gambit is the second book of the White House National Security thriller series (and is the sequel to Checkmate) where Lt. Col. Hunt Daniels once again works with Dr. Cameron Talbot to develop a defense against a new stealth shoulder fired missile that is taking down American commercial airliners. With the country in a panic and the economy taking a nose-dive, Dr. Talbot and Col. Hunt find themselves enmeshed in international plots in the highest levels of government.

ISBN/ASIN: (Trade paperback) ISBN: 978-1621577812; (Kindle) ASIN: B07D2J21DJ; (Audio CDs) ISBN: 978-1721358830
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 413

Checkmate by Karna Small Bodman

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

The new, revised story of CHECKMATE is the first in The White House National Security Series, and features Lt. Col. Hunt Daniels, detailed from the Pentagon to the White House National Security Council, to work with Dr. Cameron Talbot who has invented a breakthrough technology against cruise missiles. She needs support from her skeptical defense company officers and funding from a reluctant Congress. With disaster brewing overseas, threats to New Delhi, the Taj Mahal, and to Cameron herself, she and Hunt find themselves enmeshed in terrorist plots and political wrangling at the highest levels.

ISBN/ASIN: (Trade Paper) ISBN: 978-1-62157-780-5; (Kindle): ASIN: B07D2HT1GH; (Audio CDs) ISBN: 978-1721358830
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 414

Edison 64 by Richard Sand

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

There are some history facts that just cry out for someone to personalize and share with the world. This book is one of those chronicles history that begs to be told. Edison High School in Philadelphia—which is now no longer standing and was replaced with a shopping mall—was home to the most former students killed in Vietnam of any school in the entire USA. There were sixty-four young men killed who had attended Edison, and they later became known as the Edison 64. A plaque and a flag now mark the old location of their high school. This book takes memories and stories of people who knew them and who went to school with them. Some family members, some high school friends—but all have been damaged emotionally in some way. In fact, the whole community of Philadelphia has suffered in some form. This book allows the rest of the nation to know these young men. The author shares photos of them along with the emotional remembrances of fellow alumni who also went to Nam and survived the war. The book is a written tribute and memorial to the sixty-four and to the community where the young men grew up and went to school: a moving reading experience. You cannot but feel some pain for all of us as a nation. Those at Edison High School gave more than their fair share. We can all be proud and grateful that such young men lived. This is author Richard Sand's best book to date.

Review by Bill McDonald (June 2019)


Author's Synopsis

Edison 64—A Tragedy in Vietnam and at Home tells the moving, but little known story of 64 students from Edison High School in North Philadelphia who were killed in the Vietnam War. That is the largest number from any school in the Country.

Forewords are by Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who calls it "an extraordinary contribution" and Former Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, who describes it as "remarkable.” Both are decorated Vietnam Combat veterans. The book contains history, interviews, and poignant photographs.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-948460-00-2
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 246