07_1-30

Salute Newsletter by Pat McGrath Avery and Joyce Faulkner

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MWSA Review

Review Missing

Author's Synopsis
This month's Salute features Pat McGrath Avery's interview with William McGinley -- a World War II veteran who was reported KIA -- but is still alive and kicking more than 60 years after his adventure hiding from the Nazis in Belgium. Columnist Feather Schwartz Foster introduces John Adams -- the father of the Navy. Lloyd King discusses the history of the Medal of Honor. Chris Avery reviews Ron Greer's book, Fire From the Sky: A Diary Over Japan, the story of his father's exploits during World War II. Colleen Tucker's charming memoir, "Everlasting Memories" takes us back to the days when everyone leaned into the harness together. Mary Nida Smith focuses on the Sea Fox and it's role during the Korean War. 

Since so many of our readers enjoy the Branson Night Life (and morning and afternoon life), we've decided to offer reviews of the shows from time to time. This month we review a new act -- SIX. Poet Rudy Garcia's moving verse "M.I.A." is a must read. Don't forget cartoonist Lloyd King's Beans & Frank. 

Also, Hodge Wood announces the publication of the first book in his Sharks on Wounded Fish Series, "Chum Water". It's a wonderful read -- and a sobering one. 

I hope you enjoy.

 

Baby Jack by Frank Schaeffer

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Novels cannot get much better! I have read or reviewed well over a thousand books in the last decade but none better than the newest novel by Frank Schaeffer simply titled Baby Jack. I never thought I would ever find any western author express what being in the military and fighting wars was about by referring to one of the holiest books of the Hindus The Bhagavad Gita.  In the form of a letter the author uses our marine hero Jack’s letter to his girl friend Jessica to explain how Krishna taught Arjuna about duty, discipline, God and self. He uses this letter to further explain how Arjuna was taught to take a stand for what is important; and about learning that “love and combat” are sometimes both right. This is really heavy stuff that most non-veterans do not understand or get – but most combat veterans will have little trouble bridging that gap. The author has a way of driving this loyalty and duty issue home through his lead character Jack.

The author uses many different voices to convey his story including baby Jack who is born after his father is killed. We also hear from God who we discover has a good sense of humor. The writer so skillfully crafts this story that it unfolds the plot through all these different view points and yet remains totally understandable and clear for the reader.

There are many issues in this book; however, like all great novels it is drove home by strong characterizations. We witness the disapproval of Jack by his own father because of his decision to join and serve in the Marine Corps. His dad refuses to write to him or to talk to him. Jack’s parents end up fighting and falling apart. There are so many really good relationship issues that Schaeffer attacks, explores or alludes to throughout his wonderful text. This story will make you think about social issues as well – like how the rich and well-to-do families are not sending their children off to war.

In some ways this book is about spiritual issues as well. It explores the heart and the soul and indirectly forces the reader to question certain things about life and God and duty. You cannot read this book without being changed in some way. It is powerful, moving, at times irreverent and humorous, sad, surreal, but always entertaining! This is Schaeffer’s best work to date and that is saying a lot since he has created some gigantic and profound works already.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2006)


Author's Synopsis
Todd Ogden, an acclaimed painter with work in museums around the world and a seemingly successful thirty-year marriage to the Brahmin Sarah, is living and painting in his two-hundred-year-old Massachusetts farmhouse when his youngest child, Jack, chooses the Marines over college. Feeling puzzled and ultimately infuriated by his son's incomprehensible switch to "the other side," a situation only further aggravated by his disapproval of Jack's girlfriend Jessica, Todd ultimately turns his back on his son. Not long after the start of Gulf War II, Jack is deployed to Iraq and killed a week later, trying to end off an ambush. From this point on, Baby Jack tells the story of the family Jack leaves behind, of his parents trying to survive as their marriage shatters, of Todd's own breakdown and after-the-fact attempt to understand his son's life — and of Jessica's perseverance and the baby to whom she gives birth after Jack's death. Baby Jack is a powerful and moving human story of sacrifice and redemption, which takes its readers into a territory way beyond the everyday.

 

The Highway War by Seth Folsom

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MWSA Review

Eyewitness account of OIF! Years ago Marine artist Col Charles Waterhouse drew a cartoon of a grizzled Marine Gunny, complete with cigar, pulling on a Santa outfit as he prepares to entertain young children, as compared to his normal demeanor of an intimidating Gunny. Maj Seth Folsom’s book details a similar transformation, as he grows from a nervous young officer facing his first combat to that of a skilled and articulate officer and husband.

A Captain at the time, Folsom is a blunt and honest writer who discusses his fears and concerns of what he is about to encounter in Iraq. The likely-hood is that many Marines and soldiers, both officers and enlisted, can identify with his worry of how he will fare in his first combat: Can he hack it? How well will he perform? Will he make any mistakes that might cost the lives of his Marines? The difference between them and Folsom is his frankness in discussing these concerns. 

Folsom uses the story of his role as company commander to tell the story of Delta Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion as they participated in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. From breaching the berms into Iraq, to watching and waiting as his fellow Marines fought at An-Nasiriyah, to the fighting on the way to Baghdad and beyond, Folsom pulls no punches and spares no feelings in his descriptions of leading 130 Marines into combat. The invasion in March 2003 was the beginning of an unusual war against a non-traditional enemy, and Folsom has to find his balance as an officer when dealing with both his superiors and the Marines under him while learning how to lead Marines in combat. Sand, stink, rain, lack of sanitation, fatigue, grime, and nerves are just some of issues with which he dealt even before he and his men even encountered the enemy. Folsom covers the military actions from 21 March 2003 through the April 2003 capture of Baghdad, and he accurately recounts the stress, excitement, and confusion of those historic days.
   With the book written from the notes and recollection of his wartime journal, this is a fascinating memoir revealing are his feelings as he dealt with his Marines, and how he matured as an officer and as a human being. Many readers, especially his fellow officers will find much to critique in his rough and abrasive leadership style, and his dislike of the media is at odds with Marine Corps policy. But it is Folsom’s same bluntness that lets him write so revealingly – and perhaps these same readers can use his vignettes as an ‘after-action report’ in order to guide themselves in similar circumstances.

In perhaps a reflection of the asymmetrical nature of this war, Folsom recounts participating in briefings with the generals and colonels leading the invasion, and later singing with his men as they blast rock & roll music at rock concert levels. Perhaps one unexpected bonus of war in the wired age is that we readers can share in our warrior’s thoughts and experiences while they are still fresh, and as such, Maj Folsom’s book is both an exciting read and highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Andrew Lubin (2007)


Author's Synopsis

The Highway War is the compelling Iraq War memoir of then-Capt. Seth Folsom, commanding officer of Delta Company, First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps. Mounted in eight-wheeled LAVs (light armored vehicles), this unit of 130 Marines and sailors was one of the first into Iraq in March 2003. It fought on the front lines for the war’s entire offensive phase, from the Kuwaiti border through Baghdad to Tikrit.

Folsom’s thoughtful account focuses on his maturation as a combat leader—and as a human being enduring the austere conditions of combat and coming to terms with loss of life on both sides. Moreover, The Highway War is the story of a junior officer’s relationships with his company’s young Marines, for whose lives he was responsible, and with his superior officers. Folsom covers numerous unusual military actions and conveys truthfully the pace, stress, excitement, mistakes, and confusion of modern ground warfare. The Highway War is destined to be a Marine Corps classic.

 

The Perfect Assassin by Ward Larsen

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MWSA Review

Top Notch International Spy Thriller – A Page Turner! When most readers think of great international spy thrillers several authors jump out at you like Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds. Now you can think about adding another name to that illustrious group of authors – Ward Larsen. In his debut novel  The Perfect Assassin  he has found his own place on that literary pedestal of spy thriller genre writers.

The story’s plot is exciting, entertaining, suspenseful, intriguing, and even romantic. The characters are strong and although most of the story is done with a good narrative, the dialog, when used, completes and compliments both the action and plot. The author works it all together into one great story. This book has it all, terrorists, nuclear weapons, murder, spies, heroes, evil bad guys, and double agents. It is a book you cannot put down!

This book begs for a movie version; it is that kind of high action adventure story that would play well on the big screen.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2007)


Author's Synopsis
One perfect shot will change the course of history. Christine Palmer, a young American doctor sailing solo across the Atlantic, makes an incredible discovery - a man narrowly clinging to his life in the frigid waters. But there is much more to this desperate survivor than meets the eye.David Slaton is a Kidon - a highly-trained, highly-precise, and highly-dangerous assassin. The Kidon is both the hunter and the hunted, and he and Christine are in grave danger. Will they win in this race against time?With the precision of a sharpshooter, author Ward Larsen weaves an intricate tale of espionage and intrigue.

 

Charlie Battery by Andrew Lubin

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

 A Marine’s Father’s Account of the Iraq War. Author Andrew Lubin whose son was a Marine, writes a heartfelt view on war, patriotism, history, and most importantly, father-son relationships in his book  Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq.   The title of the book does not give you the fullness of the story that lies within those pages. This book walks you through what it is like being the parent of a Marine in combat whose life is in great danger. The author does it without “going emotional” on you and yet you know that it has taken its toll on him. It is an understated style that feels very much like a Marine family way to handle things.

My own son was in the Army in first Gulf War with Iraq. I was glued to the TV news 24/7 for several days. I did not get any mail from my son for weeks but I had gotten a phone call from him just a couple of hours before all hell broke loose and the air campaign began. So my wife and I have walked down that same road that Lubin has traveled. I have been angry at protesters on TV while my son was in combat. I was angry at our government for the war and for endangering my son. I worried about his health and safety. I was also worried if he would mentally and emotionally come back as he was.

Lubin’s story of his son Phil and his son’s unit “Charlie Battery” is not just about them but has more universal appeal to all military families and most especially Marine ones. Anyone who has ever sent a son or daughter off to a war will be able to identify with this book. There are parts of this book that were gut wrenching from a parent’s point of memory. It is so surreal watching the war on TV knowing that your own son is over there someplace. In Lubin’s situation, he actually is able to see a news report on Charlie Company in the battle for An-Nasiriyah in the middle of the night. For any parent that would make sleeping that much harder to do after that. It is that 'not knowing' element that makes being a parent so difficult. Is your son safe? Is he hurt? God forbid, but could he get killed.

This book takes the reader though the whole build up and the shipping out process. We are able to be there with the father and son as they spend the past few hours together before he ships out to Iraq. We follow along with the few emails and phone calls but mostly very late and old news via letters. The author weaves into his personal story lots of USMC history and tradition. He also wrote about all the men of the unit and does not just focus on his son. He even adds some great quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The personal black and white photos tell another story that only photos can do.

I think there are several key emotional parts to this book that hit me. One of them was the playing of Amazing Grace on bagpipes by one of the Marines in their base camp before the invasion. There is mention that the guy played for almost 20 minutes and that it moved the troops. I bet it did. That song is powerful and I could visualize the men listening and thinking about God, their families, and the up coming battles. Another emotionally strong part of the book is the actual battle of An-Nasiriyah and all that the unit goes through. The background details about that prolonged engagement has some real teeth. I admit that I gained a newer perceptive on that battle even though I have read dozens of accounts of that same battle.

It is great writing in all aspects of good story telling. It is both informative and entertaining as well. The coming home and even his carefully managed remarks at the end of the book about the politics of this continuing war all contribute to give this book much more depth and feeling then any history book on this war. He makes it very personal at times; and yet the book is expansive and inclusive for all military families. It is a book that you should read even if you think you understand and know all you want to know about this current war over there. It will give you a better understanding of the human element and what makes Marines special.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2007)


Author's Synopsis
"Charlie Battery" is the harrowing and personal account of a Marine Corps artillery battery fighting for survival in the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom as they fight in the vicious battle at An-Nasiriyah. Written by the father of one of Charlie Battery's Marines, the story follows their sudden call to war, their deployment in the largest convoy since WW2, and their baptism-by-fire at An-Nas. Through extraordinary interviews with the Marines, their families, and their superior officers, we are given a rare glimpse of what they early days of the war in Iraq were like for the Marines and their families - not only for the Marines who foughyt, but for all those who watched it unfold live at 0330 one morning on MSNBC

 

Life After Deployment by Karen M. Pavlicin

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A great sequel to "Surviving Deployment!"  Life After Deployment is author Karen Pavlicin’s sequel to her award-winning book “Surviving Deployment”. Mrs. Pavlicin has written another important book for the military family and their friends and relatives.

The writer is a wife of a Marine with multiple deployments, and this book deals with the many problems faced by wives and families when their servicemen return from deployment. These are not theoretical problems – these are the problems faced by too many families today: dealing with the children – re-establishing parental authority – PTSD – intimacy issues...plus how to best handle combat deaths and injuries…this book is filled with practical solutions Mrs. Pavlicin has elicited from the thousands of wives and families who have – and are – facing these issues.

With so few Americans volunteering to serve in the military (approx 0.03 % of the population), there is a deplorable lack of data and professional assistance for these families; most therapists have no clue how to deal with the anger of a child whose father died in Iraq or came home missing a limb from an IED attack in Afghanistan – this book is the first step to filling that void.

This book should be given to every spouse as his or her serviceman steps off the airplane back onto US tarmac. Well-written and thorough, the issues raised here are important ones that these families need to recognize and face, and Mrs. Pavlicin – the widow of a multiple-deployed Marine – does a first-rate job taking care of her now over-extended military family. High Recommended !!

Reviewed by: Andrew Lubin (2007)


Author's Synopsis
Life After Deployment captures the tender and moving stories of military families during their reunion. Service members and their spouses, parents, fiancées, and children share the joy and anxiety of homecoming, the adjustments of living together again, and how they coped with anger, depression, PTSD, injuries, grief, and other challenges. Some families had fairytale endings. Most worked hard to rebuild their relationships after much time and change. A few suffered great losses. These military families talk candidly about what their experience was really like, offering hope and advice to others who walk this journey.

 

Vietnam in Verse: Poetry for Beer Drinkers by Mike Mullins

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Vietnam War Poetry That Bares The Human Soul.  Author Mike Mullins states in his book, “It is what it is; a number of poems inviting people to experience what an average soldier felt during a time of war!” “It”, of course, refers to his book of poems about war. The ‘people’ the author refers to are those ‘people’ who have not experienced the wrath of war or felt the incredible affects that combat has on the human psyche … affects a soldier carries with him for the rest of his life … affects that many soldiers can’t cope with … affects that many soldiers can’t or won’t talk about … affects that scarred the minds of many soldiers similar to the physical scars caused by hot shrapnel, bullets, mortars, and rockets that the author talks about in his poem, Hey Medic.

Mike bares his soul in a unique way so others will experience the intangibles of war and thus be able to feel, live, smell, and taste what he did, what others did, what others can’t, don’t, and won’t talk about but are grateful to Mike for being their voice. Mike reveals many facets of war that most ‘people’ never read about or think about … inner consternations that are intense, intimate, and oft times incredibly private. Mike weaves his poetic stories on a literary loom with yarns that expose the inner sanctity, silence, and agonies of war that until now were harbored within his soul much the same as an artist’s brush paints intimate visions on an otherwise blank canvas. Mike’s words leave little doubt that war is a personal hell and that each soldier wages many separate wars within their souls.

Reviewed by: Lloyd A. King (2007)


Author's Synopsis

I am Michael D. Mullins. I have written a book of poetry, telling my story when I was a grunt in Vietnam. I served there from March 1968 until March 1969. My unit was Delta Company, 3rd Battalion of the 7th Infantry in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. Our motto was “Light, swift and accurate.” It could have easily been “light, sweaty and persistent.” We were mobile and proved it every day.

The stories I tell are about friends, vets I have met in various situations and my own experiences in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia. I continue to seek stories that inspire, concern, and delight me. They make me thoughtful, proud, and committed to their telling.

I have more to write and will continue to listen to the veterans I encounter on life’s road. There are 8.2 million of us, so I am sure I will not get to everyone, but to those from whom I have already learned and those in my future I offer my gratitude, my respect, and my thanks.

 

God Does Have a Sense of Humor by Rob Ballister

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

The Author Has a Wonderful Sense of Humor! I started off reading God Does have a sense Of Humor not expecting too much more than perhaps a nice gentle little book that might make me smile on occasion. I ended up finding myself laughing out loud and almost wetting my pants! Author Rob Ballister, a Naval Academy graduate and current Naval Officer in San Diego, really has a wonderful sense of what is funny even when he is battling life threatening health issues like testicle cancer. I figured if anyone could make fun of that life situation then the rest of his book would be hilariously funny in the male Erma Bombeck sort of way. And his book is really all about male energy and humor that women will enjoy just as much.

The book is filled with dozens of short stories; some of which are based on true experiences while some are totally fictional creations of the wild imagination of the author. The key is that I could not tell which were what, when reading them – they all felt like real experiences because of the warm and skillful writing skills of Ballister. His subject matter goes from “Sex Education as Taught by Nuns” to “Christmas in Gingerbread Hell.” He deals with the simple things in life that men deal with like laundry protocols (separating colors) and blind date disasters. He handles all of these men’s issues like a profession male and makes his gender proud.

There are so many "just great" moments in his stories. I think most all of us guys can relate to his comments on shopping differences between men and women and the experience of buying something at Victoria’s Secret.  This book is full of little pearls of wisdom and humorous gems. The book entertains while filling the reader’s heart with a smile. That is saying a lot in these stressful times of terrorists, wars and random street crimes; it is nice to have something that allows the readers to escape, relax, smile and maybe even laugh out loud. This is one of those special books that are a true gift for your soul.

The book would be a great gift to all the men in your life – be them fathers, brothers, husbands, significant others, or just male friends. You will find however, that women will be laughing just as hard but at our male traits and behaviors when they read his stories. It is a delightful reading experience and one that is pure entertainment!

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2007)


Author's Synopsis

Author Rob Ballister delivers a touching and entertaining portrait of his journey through dating, growing up in New Jersey, and surviving cancer. Along the way, he learns that God Does Have a Sense of Humor. Follow him:

Through surgeryMy understanding was that the doctor, while hopping up and down on one foot and singing the national anthem, was going to remove my lymph nodes using a butter knife, a hacksaw, and some 10W-30 motor oil.

Into the confessionalThere sat Father Riener, who was technically old enough to have been one of the original apostles. As I began reciting my list, Father began falling asleep. Being only in the fourth grade, I did exactly what I did at home when my younger sister fell asleep. I kicked him.

Through family Christmas traditionsThat first year, Dad put up a wreath and Mom put up a tree, and things were pretty much low key that season. Then I was born, and as I grew, so did Dad’s commitment to having the house visible from orbiting spacecraft.

With an incredibly wry sense of humor, Ballister offers a hilarious look at life, guaranteed to make you smile!

 

I'm a Hero Too by Jenny Sokol

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Great Children's book for those with deployed parents! “I’m a Hero Too” is a lovely little children’s book written for the sons and daughters of our deployed Marines, Army, Navy, and AirForce. Jenny Sokol is the wife of a Marine and mother of two, so she knows the ups and downs of dealing with children during Dad’s deployment.

Sokol’s book is written simply and elegantly in a style that lends itself to being read to small children, or having an older ( 7+ ) child read it to him or herself. Her experience as a mother and writer is demonstrated as she’d done up the book in a picture-book style, which lends itself to easy and interesting reading.

But it’s in the text that Mrs. Sokol’s talent as a writer surfaces. She writes of how children feel as their father’s leave on deployment, and she lets her young readers know that tears are OK. A child’s feeling towards hearing news about “the war” and “terror attack’s” on the television are also discussed, as are problems fitting in at school, as well as growing up when Dad is away fighting. Her text is simple enough that children of all ages will fully understand and appreciate the sentiments and problems that the book addresses, with the important result that the children realize that their private fears are actually shared by many others in their age group.

This is simply a lovely little book that should be given to the family of every one of our deployed warriors. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Andrew Lubin (2007)


Author's Synopsis
Children in military families cope with a vast array of emotions when Mom or Dad deploys, especially during our nation's war on terror. In this compassionate story, a young boy learns to cope and thrive while Dad is far away. Subtle suggestions for families enduring separation are weaved throughout this poignant book, and the lovable main character ultimately realizes that he's part of a special and appreciated family. Do you want to support children enduring deployments but don't know any personally? Consider donating books to military units in your area or to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) Chapel in Twentynine Palms, CA. When ordering for donation to MCAGCC, please ship to the following address: Mrs. Sandra Griesmeyer, Attn: A Co RMD, P.O. Box 788200, Twentynine Palms, CA 92278

 

Secure the Fort by Lucy Cain

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Review missing

Author's Synopsis
If there are any patriotic threads woven into your American heart, you are impacted by the ACLU's efforts to remove "under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance, and "in God we trust" off our currency. This nation was founded on faith in God, and it is this author's opinion that we need to embrace our faith now more than ever during this war on terror. 

As a military mother, I feel strongly about this nation remaining "under God." As a Christian author, I felt compelled to write about those feelings when my son joined the Army Reserves during this current war effort.

What started as a book of military themed devotions, Secure the Fort has turned into so much more. God has opened doors and provided more than thirty contributing authors who have expressed their stories of faith, patriotic poetry, and gripping experiences with such generosity it has humbled this author's heart. I am simply amazed at how these stories have all intertwined and fit together like a glove. 

Secure the Fort encompasses all branches of the military between WWII and current day efforts. Letters from war bring the heart of our soldiers to the home front. Historical tidbits and famous quotes provide the reader with additional heart-touching facts about our nation and our military.

In the midst of writing Secure the Fort, our family found approximately 100 letters from WWII. These were written by my two great-uncles to their parents. These letters were stored in a little fabric footstool for 60 years - a stool that has been at my grandparents' farm house all these years, unopened. My sister discovered them one day while cleaning. How appropriate to find them at this time! Portions of these letters are now included in my writings. It was an amazing journey to read these historical artifacts.

Secure the Fort has a timely message for all Americans. We need to remember and embrace our nation's religious heritage and foundation of faith in God. While we don't want State to rule Church, State needs Church. We need to remain under God and in His watch. We need Him at the helm of every vessel, and guarding every border. We need His strength and His hand of protection. Our military families need His peace in the midst of war, and His courage to fight for lasting freedom from oppression and tyranny.

The battle is the Lord's, and we need Him to go before every soldier's steps. We, as a nation, should not ask our troops to step into harm's way without praying with them and for them.

It is my hope and prayer that every American will turn the last page of Secure the Fort feeling a renewal of Christian patriotism. I hope each reader comes away with a deeper respect of sacrifices made on their behalf. I pray each reader develops a stronger desire to serve both God and country in ways that would let all nations know that America still trusts in God.

 

Rangers in Combat by John Lock

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Must read for Ranger followers! I loved this book! I have always been sort of a dreamer when it comes to military history and have often wondered what some of our brave soldiers of the past must have gone through, especially those of the civil and revolutionary war eras. Still like a young kid I often put myself in their place when engaging a good, vivid book about their trials and tribulations. This is such a book, and it deals with the some of the toughest of the tough, our Rangers, from past to present.

I was specifically intrigued and glued to the book covering the “Black Hawk Down” situation in Somali. I’ve seen this movie many times, but reading about it…..I was glued to the book. Such great detail and vivid images. It thought I was there. 

J.D. Lock, the author, is a retired lieutenant colonel and former assistant professor of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He took me from the beginning stages during the French and Indian Wars right up to Operation Enduring Freedom. You can feel this book. The action in Korea, the mishaps in getting our Rangers into Grenada. All there.

Hats off to an outstanding book!  

Reviewed by: Jim Stewart (2007)


Author's Synopsis

For more than 200 years, U.S. Army Rangers have fought suicidal combat missions against overwhelming odds-earning their unrivaled reputation as the world's premier close-combat warriors. In Rangers in Combat, Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Lock vividly brings to life the horrific battles and the heroic exploits of a special breed of men for whom "valor, honor, and country" mean more than life itself.

Take a stand with Robert Rogers and his outnumbered Rangers during the French and Indian War. Ride with Mosby on the Soughton Raid in the Civil War. In World War II, spearhead Patton's invasion of Sicily beside the legendary William O. Darby, suicidally climb the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc with James Earl Rudder, or storm "bloody Omaha" with Max Schneider. Stand outnumbered deep in North Korea while defending Hill 205 against overwhelming hordes of Communist Chinese. And high atop a mountain in Afghanistan, fight your way out of a savage al Qaeda terrorist ambush.

From the snowy forests of Upstate New York and the swamps of South Carolina, to the humid streets of Mogadishu and the snowy mountain peaks of Afghanistan, read accounts of and lessons learned from some of the most courageous, daring, and vicious ground combat in the annals of U.S. military history. 

 

The Rings of Allah by Lee Boyland

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Thank Allah it's fiction, because it will scare the hell out of you! Author Lee Boyland puts his extensive special weapons background to use in spinning this completely believable tale of al-Qaeda's next step after 9-11.  Leftover Soviet technology from the beginning of the Cold War falls into al-Qaeda's hands, and they establish an intricate network in order to place five atomic devices in five US cities.  The US gets word of the attack, but will it be in time?

Boyland does a great job of mixing good character development with great technical background in order to create this story.  Technical readers will appreciate his attention to detail as he relates and educates the reader on the workings of gun-type atomic weapons.  Literature advocates will respect how he uses significant events to develop his main characters.  Many new writers fall into the trap of trying to tell too much of the story, but Boyland avoids this by jumping sometimes a year ahead in the story in order to keep things moving. 

A great action story that is just a bit too possible, this is definitely worth it for action and techno fans alike.

Reviewed by: Rob Ballister (2007)


Author's Synopsis
At Stalin's orders two teams of scientists and engineers competed to demonstrate the Soviet Union's first atomic bomb. Failure was not an option, and the loosing team was purged with no warning. Its records destroyed, and all of the key personnel eliminated, well, almost all. What happened to the team's work in progress? Forty years later The Group discovers the answer. The Rings of Allah is a grand saga in the genre of James Clavell's Shogun and Tia-Pan, with a little Clancy thrown in. Spanning over sixty years the story sweeps across Russia, central Asia, and into the United States. The cast of characters include Soviet scientists, radical Islamist, KGB officers, al-Qaeda terrorists, Usama bin Laden, and American businessmen, doctors, and government officials. Islam, Wahhabism, and the Soviet-Afghan war, provide the backdrop for the birth of al-Qaeda. The story proceeds into the future where a sleeper cell of al-Qaeda attempts to complete Usama bin Laden's master plan for the final strike against the Great Satan. This epic novel presents a realistic and frightening picture of how simple atomic weapons could be smuggled into and hidden in the U.S. The author has the background and knowledge to write a realistic, technically sound story that will leave no doubt as to the vulnerability of western civilization to terrorism and the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Yes, it can be done, and the Rings of Allah provides a thrilling and realistic story of one such plan. 

 

Gangway, Regular Navy by Richard Merrell

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MWSA Review

A hilarious account of life in the REAL Navy! Richard Merrell's book is a treasure of SNAFU's, goatropes, and other various nautical misadventures from his distinguished career in the Navy between 1960 and 1980. Merrell's frank, open style coupled with a seemingly endless supply of pranks, foibles, and brushes with greatness paint a rich tapestry of humor, camaraderie, and service that any military servicemember will certainly appreciate.

The most striking things I noticed as I read through his book were Merrell's attitude of service and his innate ability to the job done. Beneath the humor of the situations described were the stories of a man who truly believed in the value of what he was doing, someone who enjoyed serving his country, who took care of his sailors, and who took pride in his career. He just had the personal balance to have a heck of a good time while doing it!

From his days in boot camp though time in Florida, the Philippines, the Persian Gulf, Richard Merrell enjoyed life and enjoyed his career. Through his book, you can enjoy them too. An absolute MUST READ for anyone who served in the Navy during Vietnam or the Cold War!

Reviewed by: Rob Ballister (2007)


Author's Synopsis
Inspired by an extraordinary twenty-year U.S. Navy career, Gangway, Regular Navy! is the end result of two decades of blood, sweat, and beers. Covering the Cold War era from 1960-1980, Gangway, Regular Navy! is a historically and militarily accurate portrayal of world events during that time period. These pages contain an in-depth "behind the scenes," whirlwind journey that lets the reader experience the historical, hilarious, shocking, and sometimes criminal activities that the author witnessed as a member of the world's most powerful and diverse fighting force-the United States Navy. Gangway, Regular Navy! is a no-holds-barred, unapologetic, politically incorrect, first-hand account of these activities, from a time when being a member of the U.S. Navy meant not only overwhelming responsibilities, but also unbridled freedom and good times for millions of young men and women. Young people often dream of escaping the boundaries of their mundane hometowns and traveling to exotic lands, experiencing unique cultures, and meeting unforgettable characters around the world. The author lived this dream during a twenty year U.S. Navy career that proved to be the adventure of a lifetime and a learning experience that cannot be taught in any school. Much of the material in the book was dredged from hard nights in the sleazy, grimy, wonderful back alleys and gin mills of some of the world's most shady places, where the hookers would just as soon slit your throat as perform their intended obligations. It is here where sailors gather to drink heartily and engage in the age-old art of verbal one-upmanship, taking great pride in telling the most amazing, the funniest, or the most bizarre story of the evening. Written by a tried and true Tin Can Sailor, the author's diverse background as both an enlisted man and an officer gives a truly unique perspective of Navy life, and also provides insight into the amazing men and women who served during that time. As a humorous, honest, uplifting account of a twenty-year slice of naval history, Gangway, Regular Navy! is certain to entertain, inform, and delight everyone who dares read its pages.

 

Irish Eyes by Zoe Grider

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

An adventure story that has everything! Retired Army intelligence officer, turned novelist, Zoe Grider spins an adventure story unlike any other in her debut book "Irish Eyes". The story has a kind of female Rambo/James Bond/ kind of plot and is certainly not your typical woman leading character. We are talking dangerous encounters with terrorists and even sharks. 

The story is enjoyable and even though it may not be completely believable the reader will forget those issues and find himself or herself engrossed in the unfolding and fast paced plot. This is a high octane story that will keep the reader's attention until the final page.

The book does not lack for action, adventure and thrills. The book is written well and the author makes good use of just enough dialog to keep the first person narrative flowing with energy. The book might make a successful movie some day. Great first effort by this author and one would hope for a sequel. This book is worth buying and reading!

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald(2007)


Author's Synopsis

Irish Eyes spins Danny Kirk from a boring desk job with the Army into the adventure of her dreams. From the island beaches of Hawaii, to New Brunswick, Canada, and the woods of Virginia, Danny vows to protect the country and its people by any means possible.

Recruited by the Secret Security Agency, the sky is the only limit. Killer sharks, dangerous parachute jumps into dense rain forests, and deadly terrorists keep her second-guessing her decision to become part of a team of government-backed renegades.

Just as she gets comfortable with the idea, her former trainer, Sir Edward, tries to drown her and a crazed maniac attempts to kill her. Her anger drives her, even as she succumbs to a dark and sexy security officer, Phil Salio, and embarks on her first dangerous mission. But will her training be enough to keep her alive?

 

For the Good of The Many by Gary Carter

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A Marine in the middle of political intrigue. Author Gary Carter attempts to blend the Marine Corps, Vietnam, lost-and-regained love, politics, and national security in an audacious first novel, and he comes close to putting it all together.

Protagonist Jason McBride finally makes it through boot camp at Camp Pendleton and is immediately shipped off to Vietnam. As a FNG, he and his fellow Marines are quickly captured. McBride helps engineer their escape from a POW camp, and it’s the relationships built here that lay the basis for the underlying story; that the successful post-war McBride is a threat to the president of the United States, who seeks to frame him in a manipulated assassination attempt. McBride reaches back to the knowledge and strengths learned in his Marine and Vietnam days in order to defeat the shadowy government forces arrayed against him.

This has the ability to be a first-rate novel, and with additional character development, tightening up plot details, and attention to technical issues, the author will surely have a superlative second novel.

Reviewed by: Andrew Lubin (2007)


Author's Synopsis
After surviving a helicopter crash during the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, Marine corporal Jason McBride and his fellow survivors are captured and tortured by a sadistic Viet Cong captain. Afterward, orchestrating a harrowing escape, Jason is awarded the Silver Star for bravery. Now, in contemporary America, with the world on the brink of war over dwindling oil supplies, Jason finds that he and his men are being hunted down by the CIA, under orders from the President to get them off the streets, dead or alive. What happened in Vietnam to make Jason, now a rich and powerful attorney, the victim of a nationwide manhunt? Betrayed by the country they sacrificed for, can Jason and his fellow Marines get to the bottom of things before they are killed? Or will they go the way of countless other veterans, caught up in a web of lies and deceit with some of the most powerful men in Washington?

 

Retribution by John Schembra

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Vince Torelli in another police adventure! John Schembra has written a follow up to the adventures of Vince Torelli. However, this does not take place in Vietnam like John’s first novel, “MP”. Torelli has returned home and is now an inspector with the San Francisco police department where he gets involved in a serial killer investigation and the search for the “Retribution Killer”. The author’s 30 years of being a police officer shines through in the book. It’s rich with detail, especially when describing the horrendous crimes and crime scenes. These particular things are very vivid to the reader. It’s more an expose on our disintegrating over burdened court system where deals are made leaving the men who do the work in the field stressed out at the results.

I liked this book a lot, and it’s a definite compliment to his first book about Vince. The author leaves you hanging in this one. What will be Vince’s next move. Will he also succumb to the folly that is justice? It will be interesting to see how the author follows this up. In his third book? Hope so.

Reviewed by: Jim Stewart (2007)


Author's Synopsis
Follow San Francisco homicide detective Vince Torelli as he tries to outwit and capture an elusive, murdering vigilante in this award winning mystery novel.

 

Constant Bearing Decreasing Range by Skip Vogel

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A Tale of Naval Intrigue. Skip Vogel uses his 20 years of Navy experience to weave an intricate tale of life aboard a major warship in the 1970's. 

The aircraft carrier USS UNION is the stage on which Vogel's story plays out.  It's the 1970's, and several civilian judiciary systems have taken to allowing convicted criminals to serve in the military instead of serving their time.  While this experiment bears fruit with a small percentage of misguided youth, by and large it results in several criminal and psychotic personnel being inducted into the Navy in general and onto the UNION in particular.  Against this tide of dishonor stand Admiral Yorel, YN3 Byrd, and some other good sailors, chiefs, and officers who realize that they are in dire straits, and who set out to make it right.  Vogel does an excellent job of capturing the leadership challenges involved, and also the frustration of the lead characters as they fight not only a criminal element in the crew, but a bureaucratic Navy that is more concerned with paperwork and political correctness than it is about national defense.  Well written and engrossing, this book illustrates the conflict that sometimes ensues between public policy and defending this country.  Suggested for Navy veterans, leadership students, and those interested in social justice.

Reviewed by: Rob Ballister (2007)


Author's Synopsis
Skip Vogel's CONSTANT BEARING - DECREASING RANGE: The Collision of Public Policy and National Defense is a compelling character-driven story of intrigue, tragedy, honor, and humor within the U.S. Navy as it was undermined by the questionable efforts of American politicians and social engineers as they attempted to integrate low aptitude personnel and criminals into our naval forces, and the unfortunate consequences that resulted from these policies.

 

Scatterlings of Africa by Peter Davies

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Compelling Novel that reads like Non-fiction! Former Rhodesia citizen and part-time soldier turned author Peter Davis brings his knowledge of that terrible period of war and rebellion into focus with his novel “Scatterlings of Africa”. It is a gripping suspense filled story with everything from war, and carnage to love and romance. 

The writing is absolutely top notch. Davies captures the reader with a well-constructed plot, great characters and with just enough dialogs to add to the great narrative. The book is riveting and shows all the hatred and anger of that time and place. The book may not be politically correct at times but it fits well with what the author is trying to convey to his readers. 

The book will keep you reading late into the night until you finish it. It is highly charged with lots of action but the issues about relationships and other personal things bring us a stronger and a more profound look at the people in his book. The story is easy to read physically but emotionally it may stay with you long after putting down this book. 

A must read for those who love adventure and suspense novels.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2007)


Author's Synopsis
A "compelling, high-octane novel of racial, tribal and ideological conflict that will almost certainly draw criticism from the politically correct brigade", Scatterlings of Africa is a fast paced thriller, set in Rhodesia's war against terror. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980. It's December 1972 and Lieutenant Ron Cartwright is obsessed with defending his country against insurgents in a vicious civil war. Comrade 'Gumbarishumba' Gadziwa is equally determined to win the fight for Zimbabwe to be restored to his people. While abduction, intimidation, torture and worse are going on in the war zone, the cities, towns and many farms remain safe, idyllic havens where Ron's wife Angela and their young children live in relative comfort. But the stress of their separate lives is taking its toll, and the arrival of Angie's cousin Mark, who she hasn't seen since she was a child, adds fuel to an already tense situation. The tentacles of war spread, plots cross, and life will never be the same again.

When Evil Prospers by John Washburn

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Bold story about America turning back to her founding values! John Washburn has crafted a truly amazing tale about what could happen if America gives up her role as world superpower.  Set shortly after the conclusion of the Second Gulf War, the book finds an America led by a very liberal president, put in office by the backlash generated by her predecessor's Middle East conflict.  When terrorists strike in Texas even worse than 9/11, the President takes diplomacy over military action and bows to the UN.  The Texas Governor, along with some patriotic Texans, realize that America cannot bow down and must strike back.  Tangles with the Cuban military and a standoff at the Mexican border are just two of the results.

The events are fictitious, of course, but Washburn's writing style makes them all too believable.  He does an especially good job of expressing the emotional turmoil that his characters are feeling as they make very difficult choices.  Further, I enjoyed the way he weaved his personal faith and values into his characters, adding even more depth and realism to them and their struggles.

This book is an outstanding read, and will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who likes military or political fiction, as well as those who enjoy Christian fiction. 

Reviewed by: Rob Ballister (2007)


Author's Synopsis
 

In the not too distant future, America's ongoing war on terror, coupled with its porous southern border and a growing lack of resolve among the masses to defeat our enemies, leads to another massive attack on American soil. This time, the state of Texas has become the target, and America must decide how to respond When Evil Prospers.

The ensuing investigation reveals a stunning international plot to strike America harder than it had ever been hit before, and the Presidential administration is stunned to discover who's involved. However, this discovery comes at a price, as one of the initial arresting officers is soon charged with abusing an alleged attacker.

Now the President, an ambitious yet dovish political leader, must decide how to handle the delicate situation while responding to the brutal attack on her country. But her course of action is less than acceptable for the hawkish traditionalist Governor of Texas, who believes the country should take a much different approach.

Caught in the middle are a physician and his brother, two average Americans, whose lives were touched deeply by the horrendous attack against Texas. As the events unfold, they make a decision to take action that their prior self-involvement had never allowed them to take before. As expected, the response throughout the country to their boldness is divided, which sets off a chain of events that could destroy or rescue a nation that is in dire need of healing.

Grady's Tour by John Gallagher

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Phenomenal Yarn! Author John H. Gallagher takes on the military and even Senator Joe McCarthy in his historical fictionalized story about the Korean War "Grady's Tour". Most books do not take on such a complete stretch of history, in this case, four years that covers both the war and afterwards. 

The book has some great action sequences in Korea that will satisfy almost all military buffs who enjoy reading a good war novel. The book goes into an area that most writers of this genre do not. It deals with issues beyond the war itself and takes on the great spy hunt at home by people like Joe McCarthy. It raises some questions and it might open old historic wounds for some people. 

Readers will get their money's worth; as the book is well over 500 pages long and is entertaining through out .

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2006)


Author's Synopsis
 

A historical novel of: Fighting in Korean War; Zealous commanding general at Stateside post; McCarthy communist spy hunt; Politics at home; Romance.