08_1-30

Slaughter at Goliad by Jay Stout

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MWSA Review

While every American and Mexican schoolchild knows the story of the Alamo, few “Norteamericanos” know the story of the massacre that followed it, that of killing 250 unarmed Texan prisoners at Goliad.

Author Jay Stout’s latest book “Slaughter at Goliad” brings this blot on the Mexican military into the harsh light of day. Exceptionally well-written, he brings his experience as a Marine combat aviator into the battle as he explains the fight in terms that every reader can understand.

Superficially, this is a simple story; after a one-sided battle won by the Mexican Army over a bunch of rag-tag Texan-American volunteers, some 250 prisoners were marched to Goliad. After 200 more prisoners were brought to the compound, where they were all massacred on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. It was one of the single largest losses of life in the history of the young United States, and the repercussions affected Texas, America, and Mexico virtually immediately.

Of special importance to the battle and to the book is Stout’s examination of the personalities and politics involved. Stout portrays James Walker Fannin, the commander of the doomed unit, as an ineffective leader who misjudged his adversary, Mexico’s infamous General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. As author Stout explains, rather than courage, it was Fannin’s incompetence as a battlefield commander that put his men into a position where they had to either surrender or be killed – and it was equally Santa Anna’s ego and short-sightedness that led him to execute Fannin and his troops.

Fully understanding Clausewitz’s dictum that ‘war is merely politics by another means’, Stout goes on to explain how this massacre was integral into galvanizing American public opinion in favor of a war against Mexico.

Not to be forgotten is Stout’s description of the boots-on-the-ground stories of Fannin’s men. They came to Texas for various reasons, and with equally various and vague backgrounds, yet were integral to the Texan drive for independence. “Manifest destiny” started here, with men like those under Fannin’s command, and Stout does an excellent job documenting it.

Neither pro-nor-con Mexico or America, Jay Stout has written an interesting and sophisticated battle history of a long-forgotten incident that helped Texas win their war of independence. This is well worth reading for both the casual and educational reader of both military and North American history. ! Ole !

Reviewed by: Andrew Lubin (2008)


Author's Synopsis
 

Texas lost many volunteers during its hard-won fight for independence from Mexico, but one harrowing episode stands out. Following a one-sided battle on the prairie near Coleto Creek, 250 mostly American prisoners were marched back to the presidio at Goliad where they were joined by more than 200 others. Subsequently, on orders from President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, they were brutally slaughtered on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. The loss of so many fighting men in a single day was, at the time, one of the largest in U.S. history. The reaction in Texas was one of horror, fear, and, for some, a lust for revenge. The revulsion felt throughout the United States turned American sympathies against Mexico and its efforts to preserve its territorial integrity. Based on extensive research, this book offers a powerful description of what happened and an astute analysis of why it happened. For historical background, it also presents an overview of Texas and Mexican history and the factors that led to the massacre. 

As a career military officer, author Jay Stout offers insights not grasped by other writers on the subject. He pays particular attention to the leadership on both sides during the revolution and discusses why the massacre has been largely ignored in the years since. Stout deglamorizes the fight against Santa Anna and his army, while at the same time acknowledging the Mexican perspective and the motivations of Mexico's leaders. The author's dynamic writing style, combined with the compelling subject matter, makes this book attractive to everyone interested in the military, Texas, and American history.

The Sandbox - "Dispatches from Troops in Iraq & Afghanistan;" edited by David Stanford

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MWSA Review

Who are these Marines and Soldiers whose courage and tenacity is so glorified and politicized by those who never served ?

 Editor David Stanford brings us the daily stories of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in their own blunt words. An Gary Trudeau-inspired addition to his 11-year old Doonesbury.com website, Trudeau and Stanford invited the warriors overseas to write back so the folks back on the homefront could stay informed about the war. They weren't looking for strategy and tactics, but rather the daily routine - ranging from boring to mundane to kinetic - that the troops experienced.

 And write they did, as "mil-blogging" increased in popularity, the writing skills of a few of the blogging Marines and Soldiers brought the wars back home in a visceral fashion that often leaves the reader with damp eyes. No slick writing here, but rather just the honest words of your son and daughters and husbands at war.

 1st Sgt Troy Steward, New York Guard, writes of his time in Afghanistan as part of an Embedded Training Team (ETT) with an Afghan National Army Unit. Sgt Roy Batty, stationed in Baghdad, writes of the boredom associated with living on a FOB and then later segues into problems with an Iraqi Police unit that shot and killed an old man. "They are our buddies," he writes,"our comrades in arms with whom we are supposed to bring Jeffersonian democracy and security to this wonderful country..." . 1st Lt Stefan laments the death of a fellow officer, 2nd Lt Scott Lundell, with whom he attended OCS. "Rest in peace,"Stefan grieves on his keyboard,"...a brother in arms who is loved and missede. The debt will not go unpaid..."

 Stanford has sifted through the hundreds of articles posted on the more popular milblogs such as bouhammer.com, sackiniraq.blogspot.com. and traversa.typepad.com, and posted a few of the best. "The Sandbox" has articles from men and women, officers and enlisted men, and warriors, chaplains, and corpsmen. These are unforgiving wars where the combat zones start at the border, and Stanford lets those doing the fighting talk about how it affects them. In an environment where the media is criticised for playing politics by wanting to show photos of coffins being returned to the United States, one can instead read SPC J.R. Salzman's (jrsalzman.com.weblog) blunt description of having his arm blown off "...the tast of blood in my mouth, realizing that the bottom half of my arm was missing with nothing left but a couple of fingers and part of my hand hanging off by some skin and tendons and realizing how much pain I was in."

 The value of "The Sandbox" is that it lets the reader forget the petty politics of the last few years and instead get to know something about the Marines and Soldiers who are doing the fighting and dying. Republicans - Democrats are unimportant when one reads 1st Sgt Stewards reports from Afghanistan, or SPC's Salzman writing about how "the last time I saw my wedding ring was when it was being snipped off with a pair of bolt cutters at a hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad." Thank you, Gentlemen, for what you are doing, and thank you for sharing it with us; "The Sandbox" should be read by every American.

MWSA Reviewer: 


Author's Synopsis

Launched as a military blog (or "milblog") by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau in October 2006, The Sandbox is an online forum through which service members in Afghanistan and Iraq share their stories with readers here at home. In hundreds of fascinating and compelling posts, soldiers write passionately, eloquently, and movingly of their day-to-day lives, of their mission, and of the drama that unfolds daily around them.

A dog adopts a unit on patrol in Baghdad and guards its flank; a soldier chronicles an epic day of close-call encounters with IEDs; an Afghan translator talks earnestly with his American friend about love and theology; a dad far from home meditates on time and history in the desert night under ancient stars; a Chuck Norris action figure witnesses surreal moments of humor in the cramped cab of a Humvee —Doonesbury.com's The Sandbox: Dispatches from Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan presents a rich outpouring of stories, from the hilarious to the thrilling to the heartbreaking, and helps us understand what so many of our countrymen are going through and the sacrifices they are making on our behalf.

* I really feel like most people look at this war as little more than a television event. How many have ever taken the time to stop and think about what we go through every day over here? The bullets, rockets, and IEDs are not the hard part. The hard part is knowing that life goes on back at home. —FC1 (SW) Anthony McCloskey

* The man looks at me, his jaw working in anger. For a brief second, I get the impression that he is going to attack, and then suddenly, as if the energy has gone out of him, his shoulders slump slightly and he looks down at his brother's body. —1LT Adam Tiffen

* Out here in the desert, Time is King; the minutes are his minions and the months his sabers by which you are knighted. The King controls all that you do, when you come and go, and how long until you see your children. —Capt. Lee Kelley

Securing the Global Transportation Network; by Luke Ritter

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MWSA Review

An in-depth look at one of the country's greatest security concerns.

Everything we use everyday comes from somewhere.  Getting that product from point A to point B in a timely, cost-effective way is important to everyone in the transportation industry.  But the attacks against America both domestically and abroad have shown that we are as vulnerable as ever, and one way to secure our business interests is to secure our transportation networks. 

That is the subject of this excellent book, written by three veterans of the industry and featuring a foreward by Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security.  Using their years of experience, the authors develop in the book the concept of Total Security Management, and use compelling case studies to illustrate their point that a secure business is a successful business.  The book breaks down the global transportation process, shows where value is added along the way, and how to maximize that value while minimizing risk, not only from terrorism but from other less malicious but equally damaging impacts.  The book further demonstrates the financial benefits of investing in security, and also how to protect physical corporate assets, whether they be fixed or goods in transit.  A "Book of the Month" of the American Society for Industrial Security in December 2006, this book is a must for anyone working in or around global transportation industries.

Highly recommended.  FIVE STARS!

MWSA Reviewer: Rob Ballister


Author's Synopsis

Viable, value-creating solutions for securing global transportation networks

Securing Global Transportation Networks demonstrates how improved security processes can create value across all the business functions throughout an entire value chain. Readers will learn a whole new security management philosophy, as explained through domestic and international examples and case studies ranging from major retailers such as Home Depot to shipping giants such as Maersk and FedEx. This book also looks ahead to future developments and "best practices" for the future. If you're charged with making or evaluating transportation security decisions, you'll find the tools you need to succeed -- and prosper -- with the Total Security Management approach.

  • Explains globalization's impact on transportation networks
  • Creates a framework for realizing a return on security investments by integrating it as a core business process
  • Details how transportation firms, investors, and insurance companies can measure and reward smart security practices that protect a firm's fixed assets, assets in transit, brand equity and goodwill, and human capital

The Highlanders; by Rob Kauder

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MWSA Review

Some books need to be read by everyone, and “The Highlanders” is one of them.

Written by former Marine Rob Kauder about his year in Iraq as a sergeant with the Washington National Guard, this book ignores the politics of the war, and instead focuses on the lives and events of 2004-2005 south of Baghdad.

Kauder can surely write. This book is as realistic and gritty as was the Salman Pak area he and his men were tasked with peace-keeping. From his descriptions of the heat, the dust, and the stench of months of uncollected garbage and sewage, to his dealings with the local sheiks and  children, Kauder draws the reader into his world – the world of the American National Guardsman - citizen-solider – that so few Americans know exist, much less understand.

At the same time Kauder and Charlie Company are dealing with IED’s and potentially fatal ambushes in their little corner of the Sunni Triangle, they also find themselves fighting some incredibly inefficient and inept active-service army officers. While Kauder’s Guardsmen are up-armoring their humvees themselves, and devising their own IED tactics, they are forced to deal with Army officers like MajGen Peter Chiarelli who was ordering snap eye and ear protection checkpoint inspections within the safety of the Green Zone. “Gotta look good; Hooah.” He then contrasts this inanity with the actions of the Marines – some friends from his old unit - 20 miles away fighting door-to-door in the November 2004 fight in Fallujah.

For those who have served in Iraq; this book is for you. Kauder returns you to “The Stables”, brings you back to standing guard at 0300 as the sand and grit forms on your chapped lips, and reminds you of the friendships and bonds formed with those who fought and bled together.

And for those who didn’t serve – read this and you’ll begin to understand what these few endured in the opening years of the war.

MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin


Author's Synopsis

By April Fools Day 2004, the war to liberate Iraq had "officially" ended with Saddam Hussein's capture and President Bush's announcement that major combat operations had ceased. The truth was the war in Iraq was just getting warmed up, and it was at this point that the 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry of the Washington Army National Guard arrived in Baghdad. This is the story of Charlie Company's 1st Platoon, who were mobilized for federal service and attached to the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team for a year in Iraq. A motley crew of part-time weekend warriors, 1st Platoon had its share of cops and criminals, professors and students, fathers and husbands, teenage privates eager to see war and thirtysomething veterans who had served in Panama and Kuwait. This is the story of 1st Platoon as told from the perspective of their "Invisible Embed" Rob Kauder, a former Marine turned journalist serving as a National Guard infantry squad leader. In The Highlanders Kauder captures the stories of struggle and sacrifice of the enlisted men as they fought the boredom, madness, heartbreak and the enemies both inside and outside the wire of the Green Zone.

The Border; by David Danelo

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MWSA Review

Is the Mexican-American border defensible? Should it be? These are questions that our politicians in Washington should be asking, but are not, so former Marine David Danelo drove the 1,951.63 mile border from the Gulf of Mexico’s Boca Chica, Texas to Border Field State Park on California’s Pacific coast, and he asks the questions for us.

Danelo took three months driving along both sides of the border, and his interviews and observations illuminate the growing divide between the two countries, and also whether or not the real crisis is immigration or narcotics. Talking with citizens of both Mexico and the United States in the major border cities of Matamoros – Laredo – Ciudad Juarez – Nogales- and San Diego, he personalizes the situation with a series of interviews with Border Patrol agents local sheriff’s, church groups, Minutemen, various American and Mexican citizens, and even a couple of Mexican teenagers who were about to be deported.

It is when talking to these young men, and a Mormon couple in Arizona, that Danelo cuts to the heart of the matter “why do Americans hate us so much,” the teenager asks, “why do they pay us so much to work for them, and then kick us out?” An interesting question, to be sure, and especially when posed to the couple who run a restaurant in Arizona. The husband and wife find themselves torn between wanting to obey American immigration law, yet troubled that not only do American teenagers refuse work as busboys and dishwashers, but that they are breaking the law by providing work that gives hope, dignity, and survival to otherwise impoverished individuals. These are good questions, and ones whose eventual answers will help provide solutions to the problem.

The immigration question is a complex one, and Danelo touches on its many facets. The issues are a combination of economics, growth of the ‘narcotraficantes’ and the recent orgy of ‘narco-killings’, cultural change as American demographics morph from Anglo to Latino…all of which is due to a slowly failing state (Mexico) whose citizens are fleeing by the hundreds of thousands for a better life. Similar to situation in Iraq, where peace came only after the Iraqi government became engaged with their own citizens, the immigration situation must include the Mexican government becoming more engaged in resolving those conflicts that otherwise send its citizens walking north.

The first 535 copies of “The Border” printed should be delivered to our congressmen and senators. This is a book that discusses immigration without a political slant, which makes it a rarity in these days of Lou Dobbs-led hysteria. “The Border” is an impartial, honest, and well-written synopsis of the situation on the border; Danelo asks all the right questions - now let’s see if anyone in Washington can provide an equally thoughtful answer.

MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin


Author's Synopsis

Thoughtful investigative report about a central issue of the 2008 presidential race that examines the border in human terms through a cast of colorful characters. Asks and answers the core questions: Should we close the border? Is a fence or wall the answer? Is the U.S. government capable of fully securing the border? Reviews the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects and discusses NAFTA, immigration policy, border security, and other local, regional, national, and international issues.

Proximity; by Steve Phillips

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MWSA Review

If you see these guys running, try to keep up!

Author Stephen Phillips takes you on a wild ride with one of the Navy's elite Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams as they do their part in the Global War on Terror.  The main character, LT Jascinski, gave up a promising career as a surface warrior because he wanted to pursue the high-speed low drag world of Navy EOD.  In his first billet out of EOD school, he gets all he can handle as he and his team end up in the middle of a world-wide terrorist ring that may just have someone on the inside.  Who will have the steady hand, and who will end up as a "big pink mist?"

Phillips writes from experience, and obviously knows what he's talking about.  While the story is fiction, the author draws from his years as a Navy EOD Officer-in-Charge to develop the story and provide the technological balance all good military stories need in order to be believable.  He also does an excellent job of developing the personal relationships between the LT and his men, the LT and his Chief Petty Officers, and finally the LT and his wife.  The result is a fast moving, completely believable action story that's a great read for those who enjoy military fiction, especially Special Operations.

Highly recommended.  FIVE STARS!

MWSA Reviewer: Rob Ballister


Author's Synopsis

EOD - "It's a lot like brain surgery, except if we screw up the patient detonates....Oh yeah, and we do it underwater."
- A Navy EOD Technician

The Sailors of the United States Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community "perform under pressure" in the hazardous job of bomb disposal, often deep beneath the sea...alone.

An EOD Technician must have the brains of an engineer, the hands of a surgeon, and the courage of a martyr. In the U.S. Navy, carrier flight operations only occur under the watchful eye of EOD Techs ready to respond to ordnance accidents. U.S. Marines assault enemy beachheads only after EOD Techs clear the littoral seas and landing zones of mines. The U.S. Secret Service even relies on military bomb squads to protect the President and visiting foreign dignitaries. Perhaps the best testimony of their value is that when the Navy needs to place a limpet mine under an enemy ship it tasks the Navy SEALs, but to respond to such an attack - the Navy summons EOD.

Proximity highlights the exciting work of one EOD detachment as they become enmeshed in the efforts of a terrorist coalition operating both in Europe and the United States. Lieutenant "Jazz" Jascinski and the men of Detachment Four become the key to helping the FBI apprehend these terrorists - until their unique skills place them under suspicion. To protect themselves, the Techs must race to find the culprits before they become the next victims... 

Advance Praise for Proximity:

"Stephen Phillips is the real deal; a Navy EOD Officer and front line operator in the war against terrorism. Proximity is a well crafted thriller-- enthralling, realistic and frightening. Move over Tom Clancy."

- CHUCK PFARRER, author of Warrior Soul and Killing Che

"Steve Phillips is a member of a select group who live by the creed `Initial success or total failure.' EOD Technicians are the special operations community's unsung heroes...until now. Proximity is a great read and hopefully one of many more books by Phillips."

- STEVE WATERMAN, author of Just a Sailor

One Weekend a Month; by Craig Trebelcock

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This book is the Iraq War’s answer to frustration and cynicism we saw so many years ago in the movie **MASH**

First-time author – and decorated veteran – Craig Trebilcock has written a highly revealing and irreverent ‘memoir’ of the 2004-2005 war in Iraq. Drawing on his extensive time on the ground during both the 2003 invasion as well as 2004-2005’s poorly-planned and led post-invasion occupation forces, Trebilcock shows the reader how the Marines and soldiers tried to succeed in spite of the odds against them.

A JAG officer (lawyer) and Civil Affairs officer in real life. Trebilcock writes about the war through the eyes of an 8-man civil affairs team (Team Jaguar”) made up of Reservists. As a reservist himself, he experienced the disdain the regular Army hold for Reservists, despite this being the first war in which Reservists played such an important role as combatants.

Writing on his experiences in Iraq through the fictional persona of Major Trevanthan, the team leader, Trebilcock describes the incompetence and disinterest he and his team encountered through their year in Iraq. From senior officers only interested in their next promotion to officers too interested in paperwork to learn how to actually lead troops in combat, it is no surprise that not only did the Iraqi people quickly learn to think of America as an occupying power, but also that it’s no surprise that 2004-2005 are considered two wasted – and unnecessarily bloody years.

For as bad a light as “One Weekend a Month” portrays the REMF’s in the Green Zone and back in Washington, D.C, it shines a brilliant light on the efforts of the American Reserves and National Guard -- the citizen-soldiers who answered their country’s call. They gave the mission 150 % of their effort, blood, and dedication, even if their superiors did not. Highly recommended.

MWSA Reviewer: Andy Lubin


Author's Synopsis

An eight man Army Reserve team struggles to find meaning in the Iraq War, as their attempts to save a critically ill Iraqi boy are hampered by careerist superiors, enemy insurgents, and the unyielding Arab culture. Written by an Iraq War veteran.

Fire Mission: The World of Nam-a Marine's Story; by Earl J. Gorman

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

While there are many book from Vietnam veterans about their time in ‘Nam on bookstore shelves today, there are too-few good ones. “Fire Mission” is one of the few good ones.

Author Earl Gorman was a Marine officer fighting in Vietnam in 1965-1966. An artilleryman, his was a slightly different view of the war; at times he was stationed out in the field with an infantry unit as a forward observer where he lived and worked with a ‘grunt’ unit, and then later was based back on the gun line responsible for a battery of 105mm howitzers.

Gorman is an excellent writer with a grasp of detail. “Fire Mission” (an artillery term) lets the reader begin to understand the mindset of a Marine officer trying to maintain his moral balance in the midst of a brutal war. He comments on his disgust in seeing VC bodies being displayed for American civilian and military visitors from Saigon, yet keeps his humanity as he meets and builds a relationship with a Vietnamese mother and daughter. Above all, he looks after his Marines.

Commenting on the politics, Rules of Engagement, his superiors, and his times in combat, former 1st Lt Gorman blends the sarcasm and accuracy of a young Marine with the poignant observations and recollections of an older citizen soldier; one who has done his duty to his country yet hopes that others may not have to follow in his footsteps. Well done, Sir!

MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin


Author's Synopsis

Award Winning Memoir of a Marine's life-changing 2007 adventure back to Vietnam with a medical mission team that weaves in his 1965-66 combat experiences as an artillery officer,"who spent too much time with the grunts." Against all odds, the author searched for his two Vietnamese friends with whom he had emotionally connected during the war. The spirit of reconciliation within the humanitarian group along with the success of finding his friends provided the healing necessary to overcome the trama of his war time experiences. Closure for combat veterans is the powerful message conveyed by the story. A deadly Viet Cong Sapper team attack on his artillery battery as well as episodes from Operation Hastings, the first large scale battle along the DMZ, are featured combat stories. Tours of Hue, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the "Hanoi Hilton" prison round out the Annapolis graduate's memoir.

Through the Wheat; by Col. Joseph Alexander (USMC, ret) & BrigGen Edwin Howard Simmons

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MWSA Review

Recipient of the 2008 MWSA Gold Medal for a book about the Marine Corps

More than just a recitation of history, "Through the Wheat" is a well-written and interesting book that describes how the Marine Corps burst onto the international scene at Belleau Wood and became known as one of the world's premier fighting forces.

Veteran authors (and veteran Marines ) Brig Gen Edwin Simmons and Col Joseph Alexander have combined forces to give us a history of the Marine Corps in World War 1. Prior to the war, the Marines were a tiny expeditionary unit that was used primarily to fight guerillas in Mindanao or Nicauragua; its most public large battle was as active participants in China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900. But as the United States's entry into WW1 transformed the American military into a cohesive instrument of national power, it also changed the Marine Corps from a seaborne expeditionary unit into a major fighting force that was capable of defeating the established army of a western country.

But unlike the Army, the Marine Corps values its small unit leaders, and in telling their stories, authors Simmons and Alexander excel.From young officers and future Marine commandants ) like 2ndLt Clifton Cates and 2nd Lt Lemuel Shephard, to the old breed like (2x Medal of Honor recipient) GySgt Dan Dailey and Col Albertus Catlin, Simmons and Alexander weave a story of how the Marine Corps passed its traditions and small unit expertise from one generation to the next. "Through the Wheat" also presents the stories of a few of those Marines killed while building these traditions; Yale grad and world mile record-holder Lt Johnny Overton never made it home, whilr LtCol Fritz Wise was never the same mentally after his battalion suffered such horrific casualties. Many old photos, all back & whites, serve to personalize the Marines encompassing this slice of history.

"Through the Wheat" chronicles the Marine fight in Belleau Wood against German poison gas and machine guns where on a single sunny June day, they suffered more dead than in thyeir previous 142 years of existence combined.  In both the days preceeding and following Belleau Wood, the Marines fought and won at Lucy-le-bocage, Soissons, Blanc Mont, St Miheil and the Meuse-Argonne.

"Come you sons-of-bitches; do you want to live forever?" bellowed GySgt Dailey when his men were hung up in the wheat at Belleau Wood. While many of them did not, their tradition and quiet heroism did, and "Through the Wheat" is their fine story.

MWSA Reviewer: Andy Lubin


Author's Synopsis

U.S. Marine participation in World War I is known as a defining moment in the Marine Corps' great history. It is a story of exceptional heroism and significant operational achievements, along with lessons learned the hard way. The Marines entered World War I as a small force of seagoing light infantry that had rarely faced a well-armed enemy. On a single June day, in their initial assault "through the wheat" on Belleau Wood against German machine-guns and poison gas shells, the Marines suffered more casualties than they had experienced in all their previous 142 years. Yet at Belleau Wood, Soissons, BlancMont, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne the Marines proved themselves to be hard-nosed diehards with an affinity for close combat. Nearly a century later Belleau Wood still resonates as a touchstone battle of the Corps. Two retired Marines, well known for their achievements both in uniform and with the pen, have recorded this rich history in a way that only insiders can. Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Simmons and Col. Joseph H. Alexander recount events and colorful personalities in telling detail, capturing the spirit that earned the 4th Marine Brigade three awards of the French Croix de Guerre and launched the first pioneering detachments of "Flying Leathernecks." Here, hand-to-hand combat seen through the lenses of a gas mask is accompanied by thought-provoking assessments of the war's impact on the Marine Corps.

How Free People Move Mountains; by Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer

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MWSA Review

Recipient of the 2008 MWSA Silver Medal for Religious/Spiritual Books

These are ugly times in America. Wall Street is imploding, the Global War on Terror continues to be finessed by the Administration and ignored by the American public, the national debt is almost unserviceable - and the presidential campaign focuses instead on lipstick, moose-skinning, and American flag pins. The parents and families of Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanistan must again be shaking their heads in dismay.

"How Free People move Mountains,"  is an unusual book for these ugly times, and one well worth reading. Co-authors Kathy Roth-Douqet and Frank Schaeffer address the divide that has split the United States, threatens our being as a respected nation - and propose a solution that is elegant in its simplicity.

Frank Schaeffer and Kathy Roth-Douquet are unlikely co-authors, yet perhaps their differences are why their premise is ultimately successful. Schaeffer comes from a deeply evangelical Christian and unforgiving New England background while Roth-Douquet is liberal, Jewish, and a former Clinton aide, yet they succcessfully collaborated two years ago in "AWOL; The unexcused absence of the upper class from military service", which advanced the thesis that patrotism, national service, and duty to country was not just the province of lower-income Southerners and Midwesterners. It is interesting to note that Schaeffer's son enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan while Roth-Douqet is married to a career Marine officer, so both understand better than most the concept of serving a cause greater than oneself. It is these unique backgrounds that enable the authors to unite in their belief in the intrinsic goodness of the United States - and that this is a crucial time for America to regain it.

"How Free People Move Mountains" is written in an engaging style. Set up as a discussion between 'Liberal Kathy' and 'Conservative Frank', the two authors talk about how Americans today have substituted the pursuit of consumer goods and wealth for religious faith and the laws of God (Frank), or a belief in the natural goodness of man (Kathy). While it is up to the reader to decide which road is correct, Schaeffer and Roth-Douqet's debate finishes in the same place; that of ignoring the politicians and talking heads who push the conservative-liberal, red state-blue state divisions for their own selfish reasons and instead take a direct interest in the future of their country.

Their well-reasoned solution is quite simple, and reflects the thoughts of our Founding Fathers: live a moral life, respect others, and work for the common good. The ideals of "Honor - Courage - Commitment" resound throughout the book, and throughout their ideas for breaking through the morass of mindless consumerism that they see as sapping America's spiritual strength.As 'Liberal Kathy' and 'Conservative Frank' are able to engage in spirited yet, civil debate, "How Free People Move Mountains" shows us the way to re-engage Americans in the future of the country.

MWSA Reviewer: Andy Lubin


Author's Synopsis

"How Do We Ever Speak with One Voice Again in Our Divided and Angry Country?"

It is amazing how one America is isolated from the "other" America. The red/blue state divisions run so deep that it is possible to live without any interaction—ideological or otherwise—with those who hold different opinions than oneself. We are a people alienated, from ourselves and from our government.

The authors, an odd mix across the Blue/Red divide—one a founder of the modern evangelical movement, the other a liberal Jewish former Clinton aide—hold an extended conversation across many months, several states, and two countries—sometimes contentious, sometimes funny, exploring the idea of how unlikely pairings—and thus, the entire country—can come together. They argue that we're entering a new era in history, and now is the time to rise up to it; to make ourselves able to tackle the enormous problems in our laps; to, in effect, move mountains.

No Atheists in Foxholes; by Chaplain Patrick McLaughlin, Cdr, USN

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This is a thoughtful book on a very private and personal subject.

First-time author Patrick McLaughlin is a Lutheran pastor who has served two tours in Iraq as an active-duty Navy Chaplain assigned to both surgical shock trauma and mortuary affairs units with the Marine Corps – and prior to that, he served as President and Mrs Bush’s chaplain at Camp David prior to – and during – the early stages of the war in Iraq.

As such Cmdr McLaughlin understands war, and its effect on the Marines who fight it. His book consists of fifty prayers he’d written in order to get him through some incredibly trying days – answering questions like “will I lose my foot”, will I be OK” and “will I wake up again” from these young Marines must either challenge or reinforce one’s faith in God, and this book opens a very private window into the war for the reader. One’s political stance on the war is easily cast away when we read of his experiences outside the operating room as he writes “at these moments, the very real presence of God is felt among us.”

But is there a prayer adequate when he gave blood to save a Marine, yet the surgery was unsuccessful ? Probably not, for as McLauglin writes “I stand quietly and watch as the priest prays over the body of this heroic Marine.” Yet McLaughlin had another year of duty in Iraq, and those too-regular tragedies need to be pushed to the back of his mind as he readied himself for the next day.

This will be a difficult book to read for anyone who has a son, spouse, or daughter serving overseas as it describes in detail more of the war than the media will ever understand or the Marines or soldiers will share with a non-combatant. But it is highly recommended because now we know that our family members are in the good hands of Chaps McLaughlin and his fellow combat chaplains. You’ve written an awesome book, Chaps, thank you and Semper Fi.

MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin


Author's Synopsis

Experience gripping wartime stories and honest prayers by this Camp David chaplain now serving in Iraq.
When words mean less and less, but money talks more and more; when blasphemy is a best seller, and eternal war has replaced hopeful diplomacy; in times like these is prayer even possible? Patrick J. McLaughlin thinks so. McLaughlin is an active duty Navy Chaplain who has ministered to heads of state and to soldiers living and dying in the heat of Iraq.

No Atheists in Foxholes assembles Chaplain McLaughlin's experiences and prayers from e-mails, private notes, and personal conversations that take us real-time into realms of duty and spirit: from the quiet darkness of his infant son's New England bedroom on September 11, 2001, to the bomshelled medical tents and blistered Army Humvees of Anbar Province. Chaplain McLaughlin believes that prayer is not only possible, but critical. "We must all learn to pray for peace," he says, "and then become an answer to that prayer."

Across the Bridge; by jim greenwald

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Words That ‘Bridge’ The Heart, Mind, and Soul

Life and life’s emotional kaleidoscope are artfully ‘bridged’ by poet, Jim Greenwald.  To capture the essence of life in its infinite forms and successfully translate these emotions and experiences into words is evidence of the author’s grasp and his intimate understanding of life and love.

The experiences of the human body, heart, mind, and soul are the genesis for who we are but, often, we overlook the obvious aspects of life that dictate, electrify, create havoc, or stabilize our existence … those emotions that dictate how we act … those emotions that dictate who we are … those emotions that indelibly touch our heart and inner core … those emotions that transcend life itself.

Jim Greenwald’s personal experiences, outlooks, and thoughts are reflected throughout his poetic stories.  ‘Across The Bridge’ causes the reader to pause and reflect upon his or her own life’s emotions and experiences that might otherwise have remained in obscurity, misinterpreted, or misunderstood.

This book receives MWSA’s TOP RATING OF FIVE STARS and my personal endorsement and recommendation to other readers.

MWSA Reviewer: Lloyd A. King


Author's Synopsis

A journey of the heart, enter and share the feelings, desires and emotions we all experience in this, the cauldron of the adventure we call life. Blended into who and what we become, who we wish to become. This is emotional poetry, sharing life and the deep feelings of the heart and soul. Each poem tells a story that I hope tugs at your heart or the corners of your mouth, and brings a tear to your eye or a smile to your heart.

My Mommy Wears Combat Boots; by Sharon McBride

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Sharon McBride’s “My Mommy Wears Combat Boots” is not only an invaluable educational tool for parents who happen to be soldiers, but a delightful learning experience for their children as well.  With many thousands of female soldiers having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is certainly an appropriate time for the release of this book.  Due to the lack of similar books on this subject, I’m sure it will quickly become a welcome resource for parents and families of deploying mothers. 

“My Mommy Wears Combat Boots” is a delightful explanation of why Mommy has to sometimes go off to war, and the resulting emotional conflict it can create for her children, or in this case, a little girl bear cub.  It is written on an emotional level that children will readily understand, and runs the gamut of the typical feelings that a child would experience during separation.  Ms. McBride addresses the appropriate emotions, and although she reinforces that these feelings are normal, bad behavior in response to them, is not.

It is evident to the reader that Ms. McBride draws on personal experience with her own child as she breaks down each emotional difficulty individually, and then summarizes them at the end. 

The illustrations of the Momma bear and her cub are colorful and captivating.  The depictions follow the story perfectly allowing the child to follow along and watch the story unfold as they listen to it being be read. 

I highly recommend this charming and educational children’s book to anyone (whether it be the mother, father, or extended family member of a deploying soldier) faced with the difficult task of explaining to the little ones why mommy has to go to war.

MWSA Reviewer: Claudia Pemberton


Author's Synopsis

As we march on through another year of war, many service members have already completed more than one deployment. Astonishingly, a lot of these service members are mothers, and they are not only balancing their commitments to their families but to the nation as well.My Mommy Wears Combat Boots is based the personal experience of a soldier and a mother who was seeking a way to explain why she needed to leave her child again and go to war. Young children are very limited when it comes to communication skills, and often have a difficult time expressing guilt, frustration, anger, loneliness and sadness and often don't realize that it's normal to feel all of this and more as the result of their mom's deployment. Books about mommies going to war are few and far between, and My Mommy Wears Combat Boots is for mothers in uniform everywhere that are seeking a way to explain to their children the emotions associated with deployment and a way to positively channel those emotions when they are away.

What is a POW/MIA?; by John T. Dixon, Jr.

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

John T. Dixon, Jr. has written an exceptionally thought-provoking children’s book on an emotionally-charged and painfully real subject … POW’s and MIA’s.  “Mommy, What Is a POW/MIA?” will serve not only to educate while entertaining the inquisitive nature of a child’s mind, but will also serve as a sober reminder to the adult reader that there are still thousands of lost and missing American soldiers that never made it home from the war.     

“Mommy, What Is a POW/MIA?” is meticulous in its explanation and is very well written.  It tells the story of Savannah’s quest for answers concerning her Uncle Bobby.  Up to now, Savannah’s knowledge of her Uncle Bobby (her mother’s brother) has been gleaned from whispered and often tearful conversations between her parents.  Seeking definitive answers, Savannah asks her mother, “Mommy what is a POW/MIA?”  The mother’s response is sensitive and informative as she explains how as a young man, Uncle Bobby joined the Army and was sent to serve in Vietnam.  She explains how soldiers, including Uncle Bobby, are sometimes captured or die during combat, but are never found or returned home to their loved ones.

Not only does Savannah comprehend the concept of POW/MIAs, she resolves to grow up and join the military and JPAC Command to help bring Uncle Bobby home.

The illustrations are realistic renditions of military symbols, sites, and memorials, several of which are repeated at the back of the book to create a unique “coloring” addition to this special little book.

I definitely recommend this children’s book to all families, regardless of their military affiliation.  Its topic is relevant and vitally important to educating young American minds on the subject of democracy, and the ultimate price that some very heroic men and woman have paid for our freedom. 

MWSA Reviewer: 


Author's Synopsis

With Savannah's innocent questions, her Mom's reflections on her lost brother, Mommy, What Is a POW/MIA is a thought provoking journey that makes us ask how we can help bring our brave soldiers home!

Behold, an Ashen Horse (Clash-of-Civilizations Trilogy Book 2); by Vista Boyland,‎ Lee Boyland

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

An OUTSTANDING sequel to his first thriller!

Author Lee Boyland left his readers hanging at the end of THE RINGS OF ALLAH.  Five nuclear devices were placed in the United States, but would the US be able to react in time?

BEHOLD, AN ASHEN HORSE picks up the story right where RINGS left off.  The US, mired in liberal politics, bureaucracy, and political correctness, doesn't react, and the resulting "Day of Islam" costs the lives of millions of Americans.  The entire government is wiped out in the blink of an eye, except retired Air Force General George Alexander, who is serving as the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Alexander becomes President, establishes a government, and sets forth to find and punish those responsible.  The release of nuclear weapons is authorized, and President Alexander vows that this time there will be no "unfinished business."

This book has plenty of technological details, but the author does a great job of keeping things moving and not letting technology bog down the story; the descriptions are simple but accurate.  Boyland also does a great job of developing his characters, and you can't help but fall in love with President Alexander as he pulls out all the stops and runs roughshod over the liberal bureaucrats who try to stop him from saving the United States and taking vengeance on those who attacked her. 

If you ever felt that the US needs to step up and act like the superpower she is, THIS is the book for you!  Five stars!

MWSA Reviewer: Rob Ballister


Author's Synopsis

America suffers a devistating nuclear terrorist attack. There will be only a few hours warning before five cities are destroyed. America’s capital city and most of its senior government perishes in the explosion. Only George Alexander, the secretary of homeland security, survives and it is up to him to assume the presidency, form a government and save the nation. In 2008 we received several emails asking if Donald Trump was President Alexander, and our reply was, perhaps. If asked the same question today the answer would be yes. 

Behold, an Ashen Horse is the story of an American statesman's struggle to save the nation. He does what has to be doned to keep the economy functioning, suppress domestic jihads, form an interim government, protect the nation from attack by those who think America is on her knees, establish relations with other nations, defeat a millile attack, and deal with the new Caliphate. In his first address to the nation, Alexander said, “Once we have reorganized and bandaged our wounds, we will determine who was responsible for these attacks—then, and only then, will we seek retribution." President Alexander says what he means and delivers on his promises. An inspiring story of how Americans rally to overcome the effects of the attack and return to the Founding Farthers vision. 

Behold, an Ashen Horse is a frighteningly realistic story of events after a nuclear 9/11.

Two Brothers: One North, One South; by David H. Jones

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

An American family’s struggle woven onto the tapestry of one of the most bitter times in US history!

Many authors who attempt to write historical fiction have difficulty weaving their story onto the backdrop of the historical time-period they use as a setting.  Those authors could learn a lot from David H. Jones.  Taking only a few snippets of journals, memoirs, and obscure newspaper articles, Jones expertly tells the tale of a Maryland family driven apart by the Civil War.  The youngest brother takes up arms with the Confederacy, while an older brother becomes a Union officer.  Both serve with distinction, meeting on the field of battle at Petersburg. 

The main characters in the book are all historical figures, and the esteemed poet Walt Whitman is a key figure in the book, as he spends time with both brothers as they are recuperating from wounds.   The author does a masterful job of taking the historical characters and events and filling in the gaps in the historic timeline with completely believable events which only add to the rich tapestry of the story.  Civil war enthusiasts as well as those who enjoy good family drama stories will find this book hard to believe.  FIVE STARS.  

MWSA Reviewer: Ron Ballister


Author's Synopsis

Exceptionally researched and keenly accurate to actual events, this harrowing novel expands upon the story of poet Walt Whitman, whose documented compassion for the wounded and dying soldiers of the Civil War brings him to Armory Square Hospital in Washington, DC, at the bedside of Rebel soldier William Prentiss. Just after the fighting has ended, William’s brother Clifton, a Union officer, is admitted into another ward of the same hospital, and Whitman becomes the sole link between the two boys and their fractured family. Through their story, the narrative is swept from the hospital to Medfield Academy in Baltimore, where the Prentiss family makes its home, and onwards to the drawing rooms of high-society Richmond and the battlefields where North and South collide.

Killing Rommel; by by Steve Pressfield

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

In “Killing Rommel” veteran author Steven Pressfield has written yet another vivid and exciting novel detailing the matter-of-fact heroics and actions by the warriors who fight and too-often die.

Set in North Africa during the British fight against Gen Erwin Rommel in 1942, Pressfield takes the exploits of the British Army’s little-known Long Range Desert Group, and presents the reader with yet another well-researched and exciting story of men at war.

As is Pressfield’s style, he tells the story from the viewpoint of one of the participants. Lt. Lawrence Chapman is one of Pressfield’s proverbial citizen-soldiers, a young man thrust into a war for which his middle-class collegiate upbringing has not at all prepared him. While normally in Pressfield’s books it’s the enlisted men who are the narrators and telling the story from the boots-on-the-ground perspective, it’s a unique change in approach as Lt. Chapman brings an officer’s point of view to the fight.

The war in 1942 in North Africa was going badly for the Allies. Gen Rommel’s strategy and tactics overwhelmed Gen Montgomery’s British troops, and the initial American Army reinforcements were routed at the Kasserine Pass. If Rommel could successfully capture Cairo, then the Germans would control the middle-eastern oil fields, the Suez Canal, and quick access to India and the Pacific, all of which would have horrific repercussions on the Allied war effort.

In a desperate response, the British formed the Long Range Desert Group in an attempt to kill Rommel, and Pressfield uses Lt. Chapman to narrate the war in the desert.

Historically accurate, “Killing Rommel” describes a war that most in Americans might only know through the old television show “Rat Patrol.” Driving old Chevrolet trucks that they up-armor themselves, often short on petrol, rations, water, and ammunition, Lt Chapman depicts the fight in North Africa between the beleaguered Brits and Rommel’s Afrika Corps as he learns to command as he learns to fight.

Those who have fought, and especially those Marines  and Soldiers who have fought at An-Nasiriyah, Fallujah, Haditha, Anbar Province, and the Diyala River Valley, will understand the pictures Pressfield paints of the thirst, heat, sand, and boredom – interrupted by intense combat – in the desert. He draws the reader into the action with Chapman and his men as they drive –often by stars and dead reckoning – to their rendezvous points and missions.

As Pressfield’s books are so famously noted, the characters in “Killing Rommel” possess a quiet courage and grow into a maturity far beyond their years. Similar to Xeo in “Gates of Fire,” and Matthais in “The Afghan Campaign,” the deep story here is how Chapman and his fellow Tommies are thrown into some extraordinarily ugly situations, and then respond.  It’s the story of these citizen-soldiers and how they react to the carnage around them that makes “Killing Rommel” one of Pressfield’s best books.

MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin


Author's Synopsis

A thrilling WWII tale based on the real-life exploits of the Long Range Desert Group, an elite British special forces unit that took on the German Afrika Korps and its legendary commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, "the Desert Fox." 

Autumn 1942. Hitler’s legions have swept across Europe; France has fallen; Churchill and the English are isolated on their island. In North Africa, Rommel and his Panzers have routed the British Eighth Army and stand poised to overrun Egypt, Suez, and the oilfields of the Middle East. With the outcome of the war hanging in the balance, the British hatch a desperate plan—send a small, highly mobile, and heavily armed force behind German lines to strike the blow that will stop the Afrika Korps in its tracks. 

Narrated from the point of view of a young lieutenant, Killing Rommel brings to life the flair, agility, and daring of this extraordinary secret unit, the Long Range Desert Group. Stealthy and lethal as the scorpion that serves as their insignia, they live by their motto: Non Vi Sed Arte—Not by Strength, by Guile as they gather intelligence, set up ambushes, and execute raids. Killing Rommel chronicles the tactics, weaponry, and specialized skills needed for combat, under extreme desert conditions. And it captures the camaraderie of this “band of brothers” as they perform the acts of courage and cunning crucial to the Allies’ victory in North Africa. 

Combining scrupulous historical detail and accuracy with remarkable narrative momentum, Pressfield powerfully renders the drama and intensity of warfare, the bonds of men in close combat, and the surprising human emotions and frailties that come into play on the battlefield to create a vivid and authoritative depiction of the desert war.

The Ghosts of Thua Thien, An American Soldier’s Memoir of Vietnam; John A. Nesser

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

I spent four years in Vietnam and hope I know more about the war, the troops, the Vietnamese, than the average person who was there for a one year tour of duty and just wanted out. I’ve read many books on the war and must truthfully say that I was not really looking forward to reviewing another “war book”. Too many of them, to me, have been repetitive, predictable, and full of clichés.

The cover of the book features a photo of a combat assault somewhere near the DMZ (demilitarized zone). I thought to myself, ‘here we go again’.

I was blown away by this book. Finally something noticeably different. John Nesser was no hero in his eyes, but did heroic things. He was absolutely able to capture the truth about this most understood of wars. John had reservations about the war, but conducted himself as a true patriot and soldier of the highest commendation; and he did so humbly, and with compassion. Too many books portray endless day-to-day combat, and that was just not what happened. The author skillfully details the boredom, the day-to-day drudgery, the missteps and the Peter Principle that, if we could reach a certain level of incompetence, Vietnam was no different.

The American soldier is portrayed as he was, the good, bad, and the ugly, but certainly soldiers who redeemed themselves when they needed to be counted on. Certainly far more commendable soldiers who were so much different than portrayed in today’s movies and stereotypes.

There are personal photos and a few maps, but the glory of this read is in the author’s wonderful writing. The highest award possible from the MWSA on this one. Certainly in contention for one of the books of the year

MWSA Reviewer: 


Author's Synopsis

Drafted in October 1968, John A. Nesser left behind his wife and young son to fight in the controversial Vietnam War. Like many in his generation, he was deeply at odds with himself over the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, instilled with a strong sense of duty to his country but uncertain about its mission and his role in it.
Nesser was deployed to the Ashau Valley, site of some of the war's heaviest fighting, and served eight months as an infantry rifleman before transferring to become a door gunner for a Chinook helicopter. In this stirring memoir, he recalls in detail the exhausting missions in the mountainous jungle, the terror of walking into an ambush, the dull-edged anxiety that filled quiet days, and the steady fear of being shot out of the sky. The accounts are richly illustrated with Nesser's own photographs of the military firebases and aircraft, the landscapes, and the people he encountered.

Leathernecks; by Merrill Bartlett & Jack Sweetman

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

If you google “Books – Marine Corps”, they provide “about 286,000 listings in 0.19 seconds.” So does the world need yet one more book describing the heroics of Marines since 1775? The answer is a resounding YES !! if the book is as good as this one.

When one walks around the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, D.C. he or she is treated to a history of the Marine Corps when reading the inscribed battles… the French & Indian Wars…the Boxer Rebellion…Belleau Wood…Guadalcanal…Chosin…Fallujah… Authors Merrill Bartlett and Jack Sweetman have collaborated to give us the same tour around the Memorial, but with all 233 years of Marine lore added.

“Leathernecks” is simply one of the finest illustrated histories of the Marine Corps published.

The difference between this book and the many others is both the depth of detail and its readability. Finding a balance between an academic book and an ooh-rah flag-waver, the authors present not only the Corps battle history, but the equally important story of the men who built it. Traditions are not created overnight, but are earned over generations; a fact of which the authors remind the reader with 280+ old photos, maps, and illustrations, many of which are published for the first time.

While the casual reader likely knows of the Marine Corps 10 November 1775 founding, it’s Bartlett and Sweetman’s “Leathernecks” that provides the background information that the 10 Nov. act of Congress chartering the Marines “…that two battalions of Marines be raised…” was in response to a petition by the residents of Passamaquoddy, Nova Scotia who wanted to join the newly independent United States – and these same Marines were to be used to capture the British Naval base at Halifax.

While Marine Corps lore in recent years has been built on such land-locked fights at Chosin, Khe Sanh, or An-Nasiriyah, prominent naval historian Jack Sweetman has teamed with Marine historian Skip Bartlett in a way that emphasizes the sea roots of America’s pre-eminent sea service. Describing the first landing (and victory) of the Continental Marines back in March 1776, when an eight ship convoy sailed to seize Nassau, The Bahamas. The Marines captured “fifty-eight cannon, fifteen mortars, more than sixteen thousand shot and shell…,” as well as establishing a tradition for those hard-chargers following: the Bahamas governor complained that the Marines “helped themselves to his liquor.”

Drawing on a collection of rare photographs and illustrations from the depths of Marine and private archives, authors Bartlett and Sweetman personalize the early days of the Marine Corps that makes one understand the institution today. In addition to describing the battle in Veracruz, Mexico after the Marine landing in April 1914, they have a picture of LtCol Wendell Neville, Col John Lejeune, Col Littleton Waller, Maj Smedley Butler, and Maj Randolph Berkley; all China, Philippine, and Cuba hands, sitting together on a Mexican veranda: Butler-two Medals of Honor, Lejeune and Neville –commandants, Waller –lost the commandant’s position 2x due to politics…what Marine alive today would not want to discuss counter-insurgency with these men? If it is the institutional ethos that drives the operational, it is fair to say that this was the generation – and these were the Marines – who were responsible for the birth of both.

The authors made a considerable effort to present the Marine faces behind the battles, many of which were fought in the halls Congress. Shortly after Gen. Alexander Vandergrift (aided by the familiar names of BrigGen Merritt Edson, LtCol Victor “Brute” Krulak, and Col Merrill Twining) beat back President Truman’s and the Army’s plan to reorganize the American military, Gen Vandergrift added the equally familiar LtGen Roy Geiger and future commandant Gen Lemuel Shepherd to analyze amphibious warfare in the atomic age. Their report initiated the movement of the Marine Corps into “Vertical Envelopment” – helicopter assaults – which was the beginning of a doctrine that the Corps saw as the key to its future. Battles are easy to analyze, it is the men who fight the battle that make or break the story – or the battle – and authors Bartlett and Sweetman present them superbly.

“Leathernecks” ends with a discussion of the war on terror, with emphasis on the current fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The battles and counter-insurgency operations are discussed candidly and accurately, no small feat when so many of the participants are available for interview.

There is an old adage to the effect of the world being divided into two groups: those who are Marines and those who wish they were Marines – and after reading “Leathernecks”, both groups will understand why the adage is so true.

MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin


Author's Synopsis
 

Wounded Warriors: Those for Whom the War Never Ends; by Mike Sager

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

MWSA”s Founder’s Award Winner for 2008! 

When I got my hands on a copy of author Mike Sager’s book “Wounded Warriors: Those for Whom the War Never Ends” I was not expecting powerful stories of such diversity. The treatment he gives the book and how he writes about such seemly different people somehow all perfectly fit into the author’s theme that “In one way or another, every one of us is a wounded warrior. All of us are engaged in wars, large and small, that may last forever.”

Being a Vietnam veteran and a recipient of a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, I was somewhat skeptical and a little offended by Mike Sager’s comparisons between actual wounded soldiers and people like Kobe Bryant, Al Sharpton or Marlon Brando. So, I began reading his book looking to find fault with his metaphorical thread of comparisons. However, I found myself totally engrossed in how he tied it all together emotionally and even spiritually at some base invisible level.

Sager starts right off with huge emotional chapter dealing with wounded veterans from our present day wars in the Middle East. He compassionately, and without personal prejudices, manages to gently and psychologically dissect what he sees and senses. He brings his points of view into the story of these men without showing anything more then their own behaviors and words. The raw pains and the emotions are all there. It is a powerful tale of a group of marines baring their souls to the author on a military base in a special unit set aside for wounded warriors. For some people this chapter will open their eyes and their hearts to what these men are going through. If this chapter does not move you then nothing will.

I found my own personal interest peaking when Sager profiles a group of old Vietnam veterans living in Thailand. It seems that for these men the wars within have never really emotionally ended. They live out their lives as expatriates; away from home. Between the booze, the freewheeling sex, and macho encounters with fellow veterans and others, the author picks up on the loneliness and sadness that haunts these men still.  These men are in many ways damaged goods. Their souls are still in pain and at war.

I found the stories about Al Sharpton and other non-combatants to be a huge surprise. The author enables the reader to see through all the public hype about these men. He gives us portraits of real human beings with flesh and blood emotional issues; and yes, with their own inner wars!

This book may add some new insights to your thinking, but the bottom-line is that it is entertaining and fascinating. It draws the reader into these lives; at the end of the book, you will find yourself changed in some way. Call it empathy, or just a compassionate response to have seen and become aware of another man’s pain and suffering; but you will remember these men that you read about long after putting this book to rest.

I fully recommend this book. I give it the Military Writer’s Society of America’s highest book rating of FIVE STARS. I am also proud to honor it with this year’s MWSA’s Founder’s Award for 2008!

MWSA Reviewer: Bill McDonald – Founder and past President of the MWSA


Author's Synopsis

Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell prided himself on being a hard-core Marine—a patriotic Devil Dog on his third tour of Iraq. Then his brain was shredded with mortar shrapnel.
Today, Maxwell has a large angry scar on the left side of his head. He forgets words, his wife has to read to him, and he drags one foot when he walks. Yet he works twelve-hour days as commander of the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. For these warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan will never quite be in the past. And the struggle never ends.

Other stories in Wounded Warriors depict life inside an L.A. crack gang, ex-pat Vietnam War veterans in Thailand, and five days in Las Vegas with basketball anti-hero Kobe Bryant—all of it captured stylishly by the writer who has been called “the beat poet of American journalism.”