Pass in Review--Honor, by Brain Utermahlen

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A compelling, well-written and thoroughly enjoyable World War II yarn

“Pass in Review—Honor” is the second book in Brian Utermahlen’s “Pass in Review” trilogy. Having finished reading this book, my only regret is that I didn’t start with the trilogy’s first installment: “Pass in Review—Duty.”

The book is centered on the lives of the members of the fictional Nolan family—all of whom were drawn into the maelstrom of the Second World War. The story begins to unfold before the US entry into the war. Family patriarch, Dave Nolan (a West Point graduate and combat veteran of the First World War), is asked to leave his highly-successful job in industry to once again don his Army uniform in service to his country. This presents the senior Nolan with many challenges—both in his new job and on the home front.

The two Nolan sons, Mitch and Glenn, also serve in the military; but each of them begin—and eventually end—their service in very different ways. Utermahlen weaves together a fascinating and detailed description of each of the Nolan boy’s combat experiences—lasting from before the war, through the D-Day invasion, all the way to the final Allied victory.

Utermahlen will bring you along for the terrifying ride from bases in England and eventually parachute drop you deep behind enemy lines as part of the D-Day invasion. Again, the author’s description of the fighting is intense, realistic, and gripping. If you enjoyed the classic movie, “The Longest Day,” you’ll definitely appreciate the author’s expanded treatment of these iconic battles.

Depictions of air combat are riveting and realistic, likely due to author’s background in military aviation. So are the portrayal of behind the scenes in-fighting and friction between military and political figures (both amongst Americans; as well as between Americans and their wartime allies—especially the British).

Through it all, the author skillfully and seamlessly combines fictional and real characters and world events into his storytelling. The reader will enjoy the interactions with historical figures such as: Winston Churchill, Omar Bradley, George Patton, “Wild Bill” Donovan, and Chuck Yeager. You can just feel the detailed research that Utermahlen has done in every chapter... but “Honor” is much more than a retelling of history. Characters are well-developed and totally believable—so much so that you'll find yourself completely immersed in the story. It’s only after you finish reading, that you begin to wonder which part was fiction and which historical fact.

Highly recommend this book—especially for World War II enthusiasts—but also for anyone looking for well-written and action-packed storytelling.

Reviewed by: John Cathcart (2013)

Author's Synopsis

This is the second book of the 'Pass in Review' Trilogy - a saga of the Nolan family spanning the 20th Century. HONOR follows on the heels of Pass in Review - DUTY. This second book covers the WW II years as the son of DUTY's protagonist takes center stage militarily as a fighter pilot in Europe. Pass in Review - HONOR is primarily, though not exclusively, the story of Mitch Nolan, the first born of the second generation. To him the Army and flying Air Corps fighters over North Africa, Italy, and Germany are a grand and glorious adventure, though not his entire life or existence. He is a symbol of the Greatest Generation to whom winning was everything, and who effortlessly made the transition from winning the victory on the battlefield to winning for themselves in the economic boom and the tenuous peace of the Cold War. The second generation protagonist is a young man different in many ways from his father. He is more the adventurer and less the committed soldier and family man compared to his father. His passions for excitement and adventure revolve around flying fighter planes and conquering the hearts of many women. Interwoven with the fictional characters are historical figures including: Wild Bill Donovan, FDR, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, George Patton, Donald Bennett and many others whose paths the Nolan famiily and their friends cross during WW II.