31-60

Moral Injury; by Michael Lepore

MWSA Review
As a Viet Nam Vet, Michael's poetry hit some strong nerves. I am sure most readers would quickly grasp the confusion of combat, and the combative emotions of the soldier. Ideas of a young man totally thrown into a cauldron of fire that seeks to change all the ideals one as been taught as a child, and replace them with hate and cruelty. Those actions can set a pattern that will trouble the soul long after battles are over and weapons are stacked. Even years, half a life later, when the soldier lays down his head at night, the nightmare stands waiting, stamping her feet to ride through those traumatic times of long ago. I would recommend Moral Injury for many readers. The soldier knows, everyone else should seek to understand.
Review by Larry Murley, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
Moral Injury is a book of poems that chronicles the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on those American soldiers who returned home. The conflict between the moral instruction the young soldiers had been raised to believe in and the duty to follow orders and protect their comrades, between the instinct to survive and the wish to be compassionate led to the  moral confusion explored in this book.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9982588-2-9 /0998258822
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Poetry Book
Review Genre: Poetry—Poetry Book
Number of Pages: 54

Blood Brothers: Courage and Treachery on the Shores of Tripoli; by E. Thomas Behr

MWSA Review
E. Thomas Behr’s Blood Brothers is an intriguing tale woven into the history of a young America’s first response to piracy.  In the very early 19th century, a new nation, the United States of America, has decided that it will not pay tribute to the Barbary pirates, but will instead send military forces to defend US merchant shipping in the area.  Though young as a nation, America brings her political and military resources to bear on the issue, determined to take her place on the world stage.
 
Within this story are two characters, one a capable but hot-headed naval officer, and the other a mysterious soldier of fortune.  Both are brave and intelligent, but there the similarities end, or do they?  Seems the two have more in common than they or anyone ever thought, and the truth will be revealed in the hottest fire on earth; combat in the dessert.
 
It’s obvious the author did some research in preparing this book.  It’s hard to create a truly unique story against a historical backdrop, but Behr succeeds, and the result is a thrilling ride full of bravery, soldierly camaraderie, and intense combat action.  Fans of historical combat fiction will truly enjoy this, especially if more into muskets than machine guns.  Well done and worth the effort!
Reviewed by Rob Ballister, MWSA Awards Director

Author's Synopsis:
In 1805, a ragtag American-led army of a handful of Greek and Italian mercenaries, their uncertain Arab allies, and seven US Marines, sets out across 500 miles of merciless desert.  Their mission:  to invade Tripoli, defeat an enemy ten times their number, put a pro-American puppet ruler on the throne, and establish our young nation as a political force in the Mediterranean. 

America’s first war in the Muslim world throws together two unlikely allies: Peter Kirkpatrick, the young, brashly confident captain of the USS Eagle, and the half-brother he never knew existed, Henry Doyle. A cynical soldier of fortune and a convert to Islam, Doyle agrees to help guide the American expedition against Tripoli–for his own reasons.

When Kirkpatrick joins the invading army, he is plunged into an unfamiliar, unforgiving world that will test his courage – and America’s character – to the breaking point. For Doyle the question becomes: do I help my brother−or let him die?

ISBN/ASIN: 1456527304
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 387

Angel's Revenge; by Don Helin

MWSA Review
Angel’s Revenge tackles two current issues that should concern all Americans: national security and sexual abuse in the military. Do they have anything in common?

Author Don Helin brings both to light in his latest suspense thriller. Colonel Zack Kelly agrees to investigate a murder when a former officer’s ex-wife calls. Her ex’s mutilated body is discovered on the beach, with the name Dark Angel carved into his chest. Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel Rene Garcia receives a phone call from her estranged brother who accidentally uncovers a plot to steal government secrets involving the DOD computer system and the military drone program. Together they race to discover if there is a relationship between the two as bodies litter the beach and the East Coast. 

Angel’s Revenge delves into serious problems that plague the military and the government. As the clock races and the bodies pile up, Kelly and Garcia must face the probability of a traitor in the nation’s highest offices. 

Helin obviously knows the internal workings of the military from his days working in the Pentagon. Combine that with his ability to spin a fast-paced yarn, and the end result is a highly believable thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Review by Pat Avery, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
It started with a phone call from the ex-wife of one of Zack Kelly's former officers.  His ex has been murdered, branded with the words Dark Angel, castrated, then dumped on a beach in New Jersey.  She wants help to find the killerto hack into the Pentagon's data base to steal classified material on the military drone program.  Before they can confirm a whistle blower's statement, he is hit by a truck and lies near death.  Next a drone turns up missing.
Zack and Garcia follow a trail of bodies from explosions at military installations.  As the investigation continues, Zack finds himself the next target.  And what about the missing drone?

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-882658-60-2
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 288
 

Lincoln's Bodyguard; by T.J. Turner

MWSA Review
Knowing what actually happened after Lincoln’s death casts no shadow over this imaginative novel. What if President Lincoln hadn’t died that night in 1865? What if Lincoln’s bodyguard had killed John Wilkes Booth instead?
 
Lincoln’s Bodyguard creates an alternate reality that is believable and filled with intrigue. Tension runs through every page as Joseph, Lincoln’s bodyguard, returns years later at Lincoln’s request. Lincoln, the Old Man as Joseph calls him, is still president and still trying to end the war.
 
Political maneuverings, greed, treachery and anger rule the land. Joseph has his own demons but admires Lincoln enough to agree to take on a secret mission. Although evil followed his every step, he had learned to trust no one.
 
Turner mixes fantasy and actual characters so realistically that it’s difficult to remember where truth ends and fiction begins. Real people like Allan Pinkerton and Ward Hill Lamon play their roles out on this stage of “what if.”
 
Joseph, half Indian and half white, is the son of a woman who dedicated her life to the Underground Railroad. As he grew up, Joseph learned the routes and skills that played an important role in helping Lincoln. The murder of his wife and kidnapping of his daughter haunt Joseph. Can he search for his daughter and serve Lincoln at the same time? He enlists the help of Molly, his former mistress. Can he escape his past, win back Molly and find redemption? 
 
You won’t want to put this one down!
Reviewed by Pat Avery, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
In Lincoln’s Bodyguard, an alternative version of American history, President Lincoln is saved from assassination. Though he prophesied his own death—the only way he believed the South would truly surrender—Lincoln never accounted for the heroics of his bodyguard, Joseph Foster. The biracial son of a white man and Miami Indian mother, Joseph makes an enemy of the South by killing John Wilkes Booth and preventing the death of the president. His wife is murdered and his daughter kidnapped, sending Joseph on a revenge-fueled rampage to recover his daughter. When his search fails, he disappears. The nation falls into a simmering insurgency instead of an end to the War. 
     Years later, Joseph is still running from his past when he receives a letter from Lincoln pleading for help.  The President has a secret mission. Pursued from the outset, Joseph turns to the only person who might help, the woman he abandoned years earlier.  If he can win Molly over, he might just fulfill the President’s urgent request, find his daughter, and maybe even return peace to the war-torn country.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-143-0, 978-1-60809-184-3
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 240
 

On Edge; by Albert Ashforth

MWSA Review
Deathly struggles with the Taliban, U.S. officials, and conniving women in Afghanistan

"On Edge" is a riveting military/thriller set in a turbulent Afghanistan. 

After a cursory investigation, Alex Klear refused to accept the Army Criminal Investigation findings that Colonel Pete Hanson was killed by an Afghan soldier at a secure military post in Kabul. On the verge of retiring as a government investigator, Klear reluctantly accepted an assignment to return to the war-torn country to be a second set of eyes into the murder of his long time army friend who was probing a massive fraud at the Kabul Bank where nearly a billion U.S. dollars went missing.

In 2013, U.S. forces were being reduced when Klear arrived in Kabul, the country's capital and a dangerous place. He found his mission impeded by American military officers who wanted a quick resolution to the murder, the sudden disappearance of the the suspected killer's body, a mysterious female Captain who seemed to have a lot of autonomy and control over Klear's actions, the victim's widow — also an army colonel and Klear's old girlfriend — and in Germany, a fiancé  mad as a nest of hornets because Klear accepted the assignment instead of helping her with wedding plans. To complicate things further, both the widow and female captain try to seduce Klear as assassins track him from Kabul to Dubai and back while he seeks both motive and identity of Colonel Hanson's murderer.

The surprising twists and turns in a thriller set in an untamed area of Afghanistan keep a reader on edge wondering what happens next in a yarn that pits Klear against the Taliban, uncooperative government officials, and conspirators in the world's biggest bank fraud. This fast-paced novel compelled me to stay up way past my bedtime turning the next page, and the following page, and the following page to see what happens next. No disappointments right up to its unexpected end.
Review by Joe Epley, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
When a former Army buddy is murdered by an Afghan military colleague, U.S. Army Special Investigator Alex Klear is called back into action in Afghanistan to investigate what is thought to be a classic “green-on-blue” killing. Alex finds Kabul in a state of chaos, partly under government control, partly controlled by the Taliban. 
     From the beginning, he suspects that the Army has identified the wrong man as the killer, and that an innocent Afghan soldier has become the victim of a complex frame-up. His suspicions are solidified when he discovers that his friend had been investigating a massive fraud at Kabul Bank. As Alex is drawn into the epicenter of the biggest bank fraud in history, he finds his efforts systematically thwarted by both the American and the Afghanistan governments.     In the lawless streets of Kabul and into the far outreaches of Afghanistan, Alex relentlessly hunts his friend’s killer—and uncovers the truth. In real-life, a shameful incident kept mostly out of the media—a monumental embarrassment to both countries.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-200-0
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 400
 

My Soldier Dad; by Ross H. Mackenzie

MWSA Review
Outstanding tribute to our military family in a beautifully illustrated children’s book.
 
Military families will enjoy sitting down together to read this short book.  You'll look at the beautiful illustrations and learn some of the what and why of military life.  Children will also enjoy searching for small images hidden within most of these beautifully rendered illustrations.
 
Written in simple, rhythmic verses, this book will appeal to today's military family.  This handsome hardback belongs on your family's coffee table… but only when you and your children aren't holding it as you read it together!
Review by John Cathcart, MWSA Awards Director

Author's Synopsis:
My Soldier Dad is the much-anticipated second book in the Patriot Kids series. My Sailor Dad, the first book in the Patriot Kids Series, won a GOLD MEDAL in 2010 for best Children's Book from MWSA. All of the Patriot Kids books exist to bolster national pride in our service members, be an invaluable resource for service member families, and be engaging, educational books for military kids who are so proud of their parents and yearn to know more about their parent's respective military profession. My Soldier Dad is written in a slightly modified (but impeccably consistent) anapestic tetrameter. The story offers two exciting stories-within-stories, some fantastic artistic techniques that help kids feel that they are actually part of the story, and a celebration of Dad's humanitarian efforts in addition to his military prowess. Finally, this My Soldier Dad offers some clever “Easter Eggs”: at the bottom of each page of text, the reader will find an image (the red thumbtack on the first page). Can you (or your child) find the same image hidden in the drawing on that page? (Hint: there is no dog in the newspaper page.) More information can be found at patriot-kids.com.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9893420-2-5
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Picture Book
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Picture Book
Number of Pages: 40
 

The Perdiccas Scroll; by John Marling March

MWSA Review
Army Reservist Miles Cannon is recalled from his job as a Police Detective to investigate the death of an active duty officer in war-torn Iraq.  This officer saved Cannon’s life and that of his General, so they are determined to find the truth about his death. 
 
There is a lot of intrigue in this ancient land, and most of the natives do not appreciate the interference of outsiders.  Cannon meets an archaeologist whose uncle is in charge of a museum which was looted.  Was the officer’s death related to these and other thefts from archaeological digs?  Can anyone be trusted?  There is a great deal of action and reaction in just 174 pages.
 
There is little personal safety in Iraq, even in the green zone, and there is a dangerous road between the green zone and the airfield which is the area’s transportation center.  Traveling by small convoy to other cities is even more treacherous.  Although it appears that the officer committed suicide, those who knew him are convinced that could not be true.  Cannon needs both his police investigative skills as well as his Army Special Operations training.
Review by Nancy Kauffman, MWSA Reviewer  

Author's Synopsis:
Police detective Miles Cannon had already served his time as an Army reservist in Iraq and Afghanistan. His former commander calls him to active duty again to investigate the death of the man who saved both of their lives. Cannon returns to war-torn Iraq and finds himself in the middle of a dangerous investigation involving an attractive archaeologist and a desert mystery that is thousands of years old. He will need both his investigative skills and his Army special operations training to survive this deadly desert adventure.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-13: 978-1530968817, ISBN-10: 153096881X; ASIN: B01EQA84VG
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 185
 

Hank: An "Angel Dog"; by David Scheiding

MWSA Review
All dog lovers will understand this story. Hank came into the life of the author’s father-in-law, Herman, after he was widowed. A shelter dog, Hank became Herman’s constant companion offering the love and companionship that he so desperately needed. Hank understood and seemed to always know what he needed to do.

When Herman moved into an assisted living facility, David took Hank to live with him and his wife Jan. Time and again, Hank knew what his people needed and provided it. They called him the angel dog, acknowledging his never-ending desire to please.

The book is an ode to a much-loved dog and anyone who has ever owned a pet will readily identify with it.
Review by Pat Avery, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
This is the story of a very remarkable rescue dog’s journey through life.  Hank was an extremely friendly, intelligent, lovable, and loyal pet.  He brought smiles and love to everyone with whom he came in contact.  He had a tremendously strong will to live.  This was evidenced by him being able to overcame stage III lymphoma thyroid cancer and a stroke.  He lived 15 years and 7 months providing love and companionship as God’s gift to his family.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-4809-1972-3
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Young Adult
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 100

Battle Scars; by David Salkin

MWSA Review
Unbelievable believability meets the reader of Battle Scars, from the first page to the last. With a depth and detail worthy of any combat veteran's memoirs, David M Salkin weaves a fictional story of a young soldier's experience that is so raw and unabashedly emotional, the reader has no choice but to take the journey with the men portrayed.

It is difficult to believe this is a work of fiction rather than a first-person retelling of the humanity hiding in plain sight on and off the battlefield. Those who have been in combat will recognize themselves in these pages, and those who have lost someone they love in combat will relive that experience with this young Marine and the families he meets.

Battle Scars may be a work of fiction, but the story it tells is all too real. It is the story of the men and women from all eras who have upheld their oath to defend this nation. It is the story of those left to mourn the fallen, and it is a reminder to all of the tremendous cost of freedom.
Review by Barbara Allen, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
Marine Corporal Sean Nichols is wounded in a devastating ambush that takes the lives of his three friends and leaves him an amputee. If not for the heroism of his sergeant, Deke Tilman, who pulled him out of the road, Sean would have surely died with his fire team. With the help of Deke, Sean now embarks on his next mission—recuperate from his serious injuries, and visit the families of his fallen comrades as he tries to make peace with such profound loss.  

Battle Scars is a thought provoking drama with compelling characters that illustrates the resiliency and strength of the human spirit, the power of love and friendship, and the ability to overcome even our darkest moments. Gritty realism and original storytelling breathe life into Battle Scars as it inspires us with a surprising tale of heroism and the great sacrifice made by our modern war fighters. 

“Battle Scars is an incredible story of brothers in arms and the bonds formed in combat. The struggles that are faced by combat veterans returning from war are real and nothing I've read brings that story to life like Battle Scars. This is a must read!”
LTCOL T. Kevin White "TK"
150th Special Operations Wing

"This book is a gut check for those who have worn the cloth of the nation. For those who have not it is a testimonial for those who have served and sacrificed. As Americans we are blessed with freedom. It comes at a price."
James E. Livingston
Major General USMC (Ret)
Medal of Honor Recipient    

"This book was a tough read, and at the same time I couldn't put it down. Salkin got this one right! Every now and again you come across a book that is as much cathartic as it is entertaining. At a time when we are losing way too many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, it struck a chord with this Old Soldier."
COL William L. Peace, Sr.
U.S. Army National Guard

“David Salkin has fired at close range and with unerring accuracy with this tale! He takes a tough situation that is all-too-often neglected and gives it life. This story is for all veterans and their supporters. His first-person writing style makes the reader feel present throughout the story. It's a quick read that will leave you thinking long after completion. I most strongly recommend it to all who are interested in understanding better the true costs of America's conflicts—past, present, and future. "
Major General GT Garrett, USA (Ret)
42nd Infantry Division

“Dave hit the nail on the head with this one. It’s a quick read simply because you don’t want to stop turning the page. This may be fiction but it certainly doesn’t read that way.”                      
Neil T. Roeder, LTC, MS USAR

“David Salkin’s story is a must-read for all Veterans and supporters. This book not only entertains you, it educates you on the price paid by those who have the guts to walk the walk.  His first-person writing takes you on a ride which seems to bring out all emotions and it also places you right on the battlefield. Maybe it’s just my love of heroic deeds but it sure knocked me on my knees. The read is overall life-like and is very consistent with the actions taking place every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kudos to Dave for really knocking this one out of the park”                                                                                                                              Christian S. DiMeo (Ret) SFC.
USMC / Embassy Marine Cairo/Beirut/Geneva - ARMY NG / Operation Enduring Freedom

“Battle Scars” hits like an RPG!  Camaraderie, adrenaline, fear, loss, hope and redemption all in one exhilarating and disturbingly beautiful tale. Hard to believe David hasn’t been on the battlefield, because this tale rocked me back for days! A must read for everyone who is, has been, or supports our warriors!”                                                                                                Wayne Emery CPT, USA
Military Assistance Command Vietnam, I Corps Team Leader, Advisory Team 1 and Advisory Team 3

"For anyone who's ever been there, this book brings back all the sights, sounds and smells of deployment like none other. Take care in the reading because Battle Scars is real. An often painful, always enthralling reminder of what we give...and what we lose...whenever we send our men and women to war. Mr. Salkin brought to life the pain and struggles of our fellow veterans and showed an accurate account of their bravery off the field."
S/Sgt Nicole Rosga, U.S. Air National Guard

ISBN/ASIN: B0718WJ751
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Religious/Spiritual
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 120
 

Spouse Calls: Messages From a Military Life; by Terri Barnes

MWSA Review
We often forget that, for military families, the battle is fought on two fronts: their loved ones’ deployment destinations scattered across the globe, and their own mobile home operations in places we may never have heard of, where they set up camp and recreate some semblance of normalcy on unfamiliar turf. Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life by Terri Barnes shares this best of collection of short stories from the international home front, where military families live their lives at “the intersection of conflict and the commonplace.”
 
Barnes, a military spouse and longtime columnist for Stars and Stripes, brings home these vibrant life vignettes with heart and candor, crafting a record of shared culture and experience for those who belong to this far-reaching All-American community. Her reflections capture and personalize behind-the-scenes anecdotes of military spouses, sons and daughters, friends and family—those charged with broad responsibility for keeping the home fires burning and family life intact through countless moves, transitions, traumas and transformations. Their stories and sacrifices are honored here.
 
From reminiscences triggered by the discovery of a long lost lego block or an old moving sticker, to wrenching descriptions of military funerals, Barnes’ recollections touch on issues close to home for anyone who has lived within the concentric circles of military life, including military children, Gold Star parents, and those struggling with PTSD.
 
Sometimes pragmatic, sometimes sentimental, Barnes gives voice to these hidden heroes in the military narrative: the Air Force spouse who leaves his Navy career to care for the special needs of a disabled daughter; the military wife who hikes through a cold night to help deliver supplies to five Marines holed up in a remote mountain outpost in Afghanistan; a soldier’s long journey back from traumatic brain injury; the military kid who has no easy answer for basic questions like, “Where are you from?” 
 
These gathered stories serve as a beautiful tribute to the American exceptionalism that thrives behind the front lines, ready to move and rearrange life at a moment’s notice in service of our nation and our freedoms. Spouse Calls offers validation and encouragement for those who live with the inevitable uncertainties of military life. Or find themselves, as one well-travelled Barnes son suggests, “greeted again by the familiarity of the unfamiliar.”
Review by Dana Trapnell Tibbitts, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
From her own kitchen table to Capitol Hill, journalist Terri Barnes takes readers beyond the headlines for an inside look at the challenges and victories of military life. "Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life" is a best-of compilation drawn from Terri's long-running "Spouse Calls" column for Stars and Stripes. Through poignant personal stories, incisive interviews, and emotive reflections, the author and columnist has created a snapshot of life on the home front during two wars, preserving an important piece of our nation's culture.

ISBN/ASIN: 987-1-934617-25-0
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 191
 

Americana A Civics Handbook Second Edition; by Mary B. Mackley

MWSA Review
Americana A Civics Handbook is a great reference book that all high school students should have available to them. I applaud Mary B. Mackley for the hard work she must have put into compiling the book. Filled with copies of relevant documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, official portraits of our nation's founders and historic buildings, Mackley put this book together as an educational resource devoid of any personal beliefs or political positions. The book covers the presidents, lists the states and when they came into the union, identifies the national parks, and so on.

I am going to ensure that my grandkids know I have this book, and when they are in high school, I will do my best to get them to read it! And don't let me mislead you - this book is appropriate for older folks like me, too! I recommend this book for everyone.
Reviewed by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
Embrace the foundations of our Nation. All ages will enjoy this book from the 5th grade up through adult years. It is a handy resource for first time learning, review or reference. The book focuses on the early years of America but there is so much more historical information, facts and trivia included. There is an easy to follow chronology focusing on Colonial times and the Revolutionary War era, leading up to the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. You will have your own copy of these historical documents. Also included is information about the Presidents, First Ladies, the Original Thirteen Colonies, Three Branches of Government, the Fifty States, National Symbols, Electoral College, Pledge of Allegiance and more. The U.S. Citizenship Test of 100 questions is included and  is excellent for civics or citizenship studies, as well as letting you test your own civics proficiency.
     There is a special note on the National Parks...their history and how they preserve our American heritage. There are many sites of historic importance and natural beauty preserved for our benefit. There are lists of the National Parks related to Colonial and Revolutionary War times, Sites of Remembrance (for our Veterans), and of our most cherished National Parks. The author hopes that readers might be inspired to visit some of these historic sites and places.  And lastly, the author hopes to make a contribution to civics education.
     There are over 50 pages of historical sketches and images. Book size is 8.5" x 11"  and was revised January 2017.


ISBN/ASIN: 978-1514221563
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Reference, Young Adult
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Young Adult (fiction or non-fiction)
Number of Pages: 298

The Fortunate Son: Top, through the Eyes of Others; by Timothy Trainer

MWSA Review
Timothy Trainer writes a poignant, moving portrait of a man he referred to as “Dad” but many more knew as “Top,” a senior non-commissioned officer serving as a company first sergeant.
  
First Sergeant Emerson Trainer (the author’s father), was a career infantry soldier who served in combat in Korea and twice in Vietnam, the second time as the senior enlisted soldier in Bravo company, Second Battalion, 7th Cavalry (or B2-7).  Fourteen of the soldiers he served with relate to his son what his leadership meant to them.

The United States Army in Vietnam was very different from the one recently fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It had a solid core of non-commissioned officers and senior officers who had seen combat, but the basic grunt and the junior officers were in many cases unblooded draftees.  Those soldiers needed the leadership and experience of those like Top Trainer in order to stay alive, and they relay in magnificent detail how his leadership, mentoring, coaching, and caring kept them alive through what was the most difficult times in their lives.

I particularly enjoyed how soldiers with different ranks and jobs all discussed how one single person so greatly impacted them.  Officers, junior soldiers, and fellow NCOs all discuss how their interactions with Top Trainer made them better and kept them alive.  Some of them were only around him for a few short months, and still the message is clear.  “We survived mostly because of him.”

Those who enjoy period pieces from the Vietnam war or combat memoirs in general will find this entertaining.  It can also have some application in a leadership curriculum.
Review by Rob Ballister, MWSA Awards Director

Author's Synopsis:
The Fortunate Son: Top, through the Eyes of Others, takes two paths.  One path sheds light onto what it was like to be an Army brat during the Vietnam years.  The second path describes the journey that many young men traveled as they were transformed from civilians to soldiers.  Decades later, the Army brat, whose father was the combat seasoned senior NCO, meets thirteen men who served under his father in Vietnam.  In total, fourteen men whose lives were touched by Top provide this Army brat with their words and a new understanding of what sacrifice at home meant to young men who needed leadership to survive.


ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-941049-73-0
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 146
 

The Parting: A Story of West Point on the Eve of the Civil War; by Richard Adams

MWSA Review
This story weaves several time periods deftly, with the present established as the days leading up to the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) and the battle itself.  The majority of the book centers on the cadets days at West Point (United States Military Academy – USMA) and describes military training details as well as the feelings and positions on a state’s right to secede from the union and the hope for peace versus the possibility of war.  The cadets are well aware of the tensions between the cotton-producing states and the manufacturing states and their interdependence.  The reality of the situation affects not only the relationships of the cadets but also their personal lives.  This is a period piece that will appeal to a broad audience.
 
Period photographs on the cover and in the first few pages enhance the book.  The author provides a list of main characters that includes the states from which the cadets come, which helps you to understand their positions.  In the Foreward, Brigadier General Peter M. Dawkins (ret) notes that this book “brings American history to life and, in the process, makes you think, smile, and sometimes weep.”  How true.
Review by Nancy Kauffman. MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
The Parting is the true and epic story of the “band of brothers” of the West Point Class of 1861 that experienced its last year at the Academy on the eve of the Civil War before confronting each other in the first major battle of the war. The book's cover artwork features a period photograph of cadets conducting field artillery drill on the Plain at West Point. Pictured on the cover are the story’s protagonist John Pelham from Alabama and his close friend Edmund Kirby from New York. The story unfolds in flashbacks from the days leading up to and including the First Battle of Bull Run, and chronicles the divisive issues of slavery, states' rights, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the unraveling of a nation, the formation of another, and the cat and mouse game that is Fort Sumter. The cadet and military characters in The Parting are real and their deeds and fates are recorded history. Pelham’s friends include George Armstrong Custer and the abolitionist Emory Upton. Pelham, who would be lauded in the war as "The Gallant Pelham" by Robert E. Lee, is the most popular man in his class as well as the best artillerist, horseman, and swordsman, but like Custer also has the most demerits. Central to the story is Pelham’s relationship with the beautiful Clara Bolton from Philadelphia who, with her five girlfriends from Clermont College for Women on Long Island, spends a chaperoned week at the West Point Hotel, barely two hundred yards from the most eligible bachelors in the country.
 
Rich Adams is the first of three brothers to graduate from West Point, a Vietnam veteran, a consulting engineer, a former university adjunct professor, an author and screenwriter, and a lifelong student of West Point history. His author’s website is www.RichardBarlowAdams.com

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-48360-231-8 (HB), 978-1-48360-225-7 (SB), 978-1-48360-226-4 (EB), B00BVH437M (Amazon Kindle)
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Romance, History
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 410
 

Guiding Missal; by Nancy Panko

MWSA Review
Guiding Missal is a multi-generational family story of courage and faith with an inspiring premise. The story focuses on the lives of three men, spans fifty years, two wars and one crisis that brings the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. What helps these men through their life-and-death situations is the comfort they receive from a missal that's been handed down from father to son. Author Nancy Panko has taken a familiar story and added a twist: the missal not merely a passive prayer book—she makes it a participant in a way that is both clever and touching. The narrative is further enhanced by real-life accounts of incidents told to her by veterans and relatives. The result is a moving and inspirational story, specific in its action and timeless in its theme.
Reviewed by Dwight Jon Zimmerman, MWSA President

Author's Synopsis:
Across a span of fifty years, three generations of military men have one prayer book in common that has a mind and voice of its own. In 1944, a U.S. Army baker volunteers as a forward observer to carry out covert operations behind German lines in World War II. In the early Sixties, a focused nineteen-year-old Airman is responsible for decoding critical top secret messages during the height of the Berlin Crisis. In 1993, an army sniper overcomes a debilitating condition only to fight for survival in the streets of war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia, when a Blackhawk helicopter is shot down. Yet, when each of these men face a crisis, this very special prayer book, My Military Missal, intercedes with understanding and divine power. Based on actual events, Guiding Missal is relevant for any person who is serving or has served in the military and their families. This story will help you understand why soldiers are “old” at twenty-five or why they become angry when someone disrespects the American flag. Guiding Missal’s timeless journey of faith, patriotism and miracles will touch your heart as the missal and the men call out to God for guidance, protection, and a safe return home.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-13: 978-1-61153-240-1  ISBN-10: 161153240X
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Religious/Spiritual
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 284
 

55 Years on Campus; by Detra Enman

MWSA Review
In 55 Years on Campus, author Detra Enman has written a book that is fun to read. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about her experiences on "campus." Anyone with a military background can certainly appreciate the situations she got herself in and out of. Her light hearted way of telling of her story rubs off on the reader. Not only was the book a fast and easy read, a reader can learn a thing or two from Enman's experiences. 

My only regret is that the book ended so soon.  I would have enjoyed reading more.  Although it could be strengthened with a little more editing, I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a fun and fast read and to those wanting to learn more about a life in the military or the life of a crew member on a private corporate jet.
Review by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
“55 Years on Campus” is a memoir that I am humbled to share with you, of my life lesson and things that I have come to understand during my journey on this campus I call life.
I have served over 20 years in the Air Force, and currently am a private flight attendant for the rich and famous - for close to 20 years as well. The world has been my campus.  I have had jobs that are dominantly masculine to include feminine and jobs no human should have. My lessons have had me experience tragedies, failures, success and happiness. Some of my subjects were loss of life, air show disasters, murder, terrorist threats, natural disasters, religion conflicts, culture beliefs, racism, human nature/instincts, beauty, love, compassion, jealousy, use, abuse, etc etc.  I am not alone and no one special.  You all have a story, journey and  special experiences on your campus of life.

My heart simply wanted to share with you my lessons; in the hopes you can laugh, be entertained and learn off of my mistakes and success’s. By not limiting myself; I got to experience more than most and grateful for this trait that I embraced.

It has come to my belief that there is nothing that you can’t do – you are the only one in your way.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-68409-977-1
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 62
 

Echoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina's Memories and Images; by J. Keith Jones

MWSA Review
How does a writer begin to capture the essence of something as vast as the Civil War? Immediately after the fighting stopped, the U.S. government printing office attempted to preserve all the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. After compiling 126 volumes, each one numbering well over a thousand pages of impossibly small type, they found they had documents but little more understanding of what had happened. Ever since, historians have tried to narrow their focus—to just one year, one battle in that year, one state who fought in the battle, one regiment from that state, and eventually, just one soldier from that regiment. Each choice has its limitations.
 
In Echoes from Gettysburg, J. Keith Jones has chosen to focus on the troops from South Carolina who fought at Gettysburg. His emphasis is on those who left behind a written record of their lasting memories, their personal impressions, and their fears.  Almost 5000 South Carolinians were on the field in Gettysburg; he has collected information on some 780 of them. Their words echo through their letters to loved ones, their diary entries, the accounts they wrote for their local newspapers, the memories they shared with comrades many years later at Gettysburg reunions, and sometimes their obituaries. This collection brings readers face to face with the harsh realities of the war. It leaves them with greater understanding and more compassion for the men on both sides of the conflict.
 
Jones has clearly identified the sources of the documents he includes in this collection. He provides an accurate and useful index. The book also offers a few well-drawn maps and contemporary photos of some of the leading figures. A serious researcher, however,  will need to follow up on each source to find the original documents, since it can be hard to tell here whether a spelling error reflects a lack of education on the part of the soldier or an editing failure during the compilation of the book. Those who write about South Carolina history--or genealogy, or about the Civil War, or about the Battle of Gettysburg--will find this book to be a necessary addition to their research efforts.
Review by Carolyn Schriber, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
South Carolina contributed two brigades of infantry, two regiments of cavalry and several artillery batteries to the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863. Their veterans related accounts of heroism and fear, triumph and loss for the remainder of their lives. These are their stories. Gleaned from diaries, letters and newspaper articles written immediately after the great battle and throughout the balance of the lives of its veterans, these stories place the reader in the boots of the men who lived the experience. Included with the firsthand accounts are maps of the fields fought for by these sons of the Palmetto State and photographs of a number of the soldiers involved. Along with battle histories and the individual exploits of the brigades led by General Joseph Kershaw, General Wade Hampton and Colonel Abner Perrin are accounts of the artillery batteries from South Carolina and the improvised cavalry command assembled from scattered companies by Colonel John Logan Black, who had been left behind due to wounds from an earlier battle. Black was determined to rejoin the army as soon as he was able and caught up with General Robert E. Lee with two companies and other miscellaneous cavalrymen who had been separated from their regiments. His improvised command participated in all three days of the battle before rejoining Hampton’s Brigade . Also covered are the annual reunions where the old soldiers gathered to camp once again on the fields of Gettysburg. The veterans recount many tales of reconnecting with old comrades, memories of those who never made it home, and their reconciliation with former enemies. Every strata of the soldier experience at Gettysburg is represented from the highest general to the lowliest private. Every life is a story and provides a piece toward completing the puzzle of the human experience at Gettysburg.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1945602016
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 424

The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris; by Ed Cobleigh

Author's Synopsis:
The Pilot is in love with fighter planes, a beautiful woman, and Paris.  He must choose one of the three.  One choice would betray the woman he can't resist, who may be a spy or someone much more.  The Pilot has mastered many fighters, from the treacherous Sopwith Camel to the stiletto F-104 Starfighter, from the Spitfire to the F-16 Viper.  This challenge is different.  He can't shoot down the future, but the past may hold the key to his present.

ISBN/ASIN: 9780692392065
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s):Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages : 202
 

War for the Hell of It; by Ed Cobleigh

MWSA Review
I really enjoyed reading this book. War for the Hell of It is a fast-moving memoir written by Ed Cobleigh about his experiences as a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War. In reading the book, one can feel the emotions the author went through during his two years as a combat pilot. Stationed in Thailand, Cobleigh does a excellent job of recounting not only his combat missions but also what life was like in Thailand. While the author does touch on the politics and antiwar sentiment at the time, he does so in a cursory manner and doesn't preach his own opinions to the reader. Critical of some of senior military leadership at the time, he also writes of admiration for the leadership within his Wing and especially his Wing Commander. This book will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the F-4 fighter, the role of the Air Force in the Vietnam War, in military history, or someone just looking for a good book to read and enjoy!
Review by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
In War for the Hell of It, Ed Cobleigh shares his perspectives in a deeply personal account of a fighter pilot's life, one filled with moral ambiguity and military absurdities offset by the undeniable thrill of flying a fighter aircraft.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781523680726
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction, Biography
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 266
 

That Deadly Space; by Gerald Gillis

MWSA Review
In That Deadly Space author Gerald Gillis spins an interesting yarn about a young man, Conor Rafferty, going off to fight for the confederacy in the Civil War. He does so against his father's wishes and carried with him his father's admonishments that he will be no good in combat. He also does so despite his personal opposition to slavery. These conflicts affect him throughout the war, but he is determined to be a good officer and soldier.

The author is adept in portraying his protagonist's experiences as well as giving the reader insight to a soldier's life in that war. Conor's story is a tragic one, but without doubt resembled the story of many real soldiers who fought in that war. As with most wars, the young men and women who fight and die in it had no role in initiating it. I recommend That Deadly Space to everyone who enjoys historical fiction and especially to those who enjoy reading about the US Civil War. 
Review by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
The Civil War has begun in earnest. Conor Rafferty joins the Confederate army as a young infantry officer against the wishes of his father who, in his Irish anger, is adamantly opposed to a war with the North. Conor soon finds himself in many of the war’s most consequential battles, leading from the front and risking all inside that deadly space. He serves with distinction in General Robert E. Lee’s celebrated Army of Northern Virginia as it seeks the crowning victory that will end the war and stop the carnage. Along the way, Conor becomes a protégé of fellow Georgian John B. Gordon who eventually rises to command a Confederate army corps. At the conclusion of each chapter, the narrative transitions to the now aged Conor who answers the probing questions of his grandson Aaron, himself a captain in the U.S. Army and scheduled for duty in Europe during World War I. The grandfather and grandson thus spend a week together—a week of sharing, learning, and bonding.

That Deadly Space is a compelling tale that portrays the drama, heroism, romance, and tragedy of the Civil War.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-692-84062-7
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 340
 

Guy's Odyssey; by Seth Bleuer

MWSA Review
In Guy's Odyssey, Seth Bleuer's study in fiction of a veteran suffering from a traumatic head injury and PTSD, Bleuer tells the intense struggle of a man trying to hold on to his sanity. I felt empathy for the author's main character, Guy, right from the beginning of the story. Needless to say, I wanted to find out how Guy would turn out and how the story would end.

The author did a great job in developing the downward spiral, emotional and physical, in which Guy is trapped. A nasty head injury, combined with witnessing too much violence, and finally reaching a point where he is over-medicating himself with drugs that undoubtedly have a longer list of side affects than one could ever remember. The author holds few punches and pulls the reader into Guy's world. Whether that world is imaginary or real, even Guy is no longer sure.

Recommend this book to anyone interested in the struggle of so many veterans who return from combat with physical as well as emotional injuries only to find their adjustment complicated by the medications that are supposed to do them good.
Review by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

 

Author's Synopsis:
It’s just another day in Iraq for Guy, a young American soldier. But when he suffers a head wound in a car bomb attack in Baghdad his real journey begins. 

As the blast sends him on a deadly odyssey through the very fabric of time, he finds the beautiful yet mysterious disappearing sand. But Guy quickly realizes things aren’t what they seem and he may be witnessing his own destruction. With the reality warp tearing him apart, he has only his fading mind and a mysterious journal to help him solve the puzzle before time runs out.

His desperate search for an answer leads him to a single moment where everything hangs in the balance. Does this mysterious journal hold the clues to his salvation, or is it the ramblings of a madman? Can he figure out the mystery and save himself, or is the end of his odyssey written before his journey even begins?

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9987808-0-8
Book Format(s): Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: