Non-Fiction

Our War: The History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War 1968-1971

Title: Our War: The History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War 1968-1971
Author: David W. Taylor
Genre: History
Reviewer: Louis Intres

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0983268304

"Our War" is the only Vietnam War history that covers an infantry battalion during its entire time in combat (3 years, 3 months) and written in a narrative form (absent report excerpts, charts and graphs). The author served as a infantry platoon leader in the battalion in 1969 and retired as a Colonel, Special Forces (USAR-Ret) in 1993. The battalion, 5th/46th Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, is the same battalion famed Vietnam War author Tim O'Brien served in. The author copied over 23,000 pages of the battalions Daily Staff Journals at the National Archives and interviewed over 100 battalion vets, from battalion commanders to privates, to write the book in 8 years.

In many respects the book is a microcosm of the Vietnam War itself. The battalion fought in every type of terrain known to soldiers: coastal & marshy plains, the rolling hills and dense foliage of the Piedmont and triple canopy jungle in the Annamite Mountains. It fought against NVA regulars and Vietcong Main Force and Local Force battalions. It also operated in the most heavily mined areas of the Vietnam War including the dreaded Batangan Pennisula and the My Lai hamlets.

The missions the battalion pursued began with battalion-sized "Search and Destroy" (body counts) to "Search and Clear", "Denial", "Pacification" and "Accelerated Pacification". By late 1970 common operations were carried out by squad-size patrols operating out of platoon-size patrol bases. the soldiers attitudes had switched from "fighting to win" to "not being the last man to die in Vietnam".
The battalion fought with other units such as the US Marines, South Vietnamese Army (ARVN), Popular Force (PF) and Regional Force (RF) Militia. Their performance is also recounted as it pertained to the battalions operations as the American forces tried to "stand down" while the Vietnamese were to "stand up".

Each battalions soldier who is killed in combat is mentioned as to how he died. The reader will view the war as seen at the battalion level with their missions and the threats they faced, down to the individual soldier "in the grass" who only knew what was in front of him. "Our War" offers a rare look into what it was truly like for an infantry battalion to fight and persevere in the Vietnam war, in the midst of constant change of commanders, lack of experienced personnel, many acts of selfless bravery and a growing antipathy for a war that was not going to be won by American forces.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Taylor, David W.

Many Genres One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Title: Many Genres One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction
Author Michael A. Arnzen, Heidi Ruby Miller
Genre: How-to
Reviewer: Terry L. Shoptaugh

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0938467085

Well-known authors affiliated with Seton Hill University's MFA program offer advice on how to write successful genre novels.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Arnzen, Michael, ed.
Miller, Heidi Ruby

Military Fly Moms: Sharing Memories, Building Legacies, Inspiring Hope

Title: Military Fly Moms: Sharing Memories, Building Legacies, Inspiring Hope
Author: Linda Maloney
Genre: Creative Non-Fiction
Reviewer: Barbara Peacock

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0978736974

Military Fly Moms is a gorgeous coffee-table book with a collection of true stories by seventy women who shared the same two dreams—becoming a military aviator, and being a mom. The first few women, who, in the seventies, took their places in the world of all-male military aviation, paved the way for other women to follow. From flying during the Cold War to rescue missions during Hurricane Katrina to flying in combat during the current war on terror, these gutsy women—our nation’s sisters, daughters, neighbors, friends, and, yes, even moms—have done it all. Illustrated throughout with 75 stunning color photos, Military Fly Moms depicts women aviators in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard alongside their helicopters, transport aircraft, or fighter planes, as well as highlighting their families. These stories and their accompanying photographs weave a beautiful tapestry, passing on a lasting legacy to inspire future generations to reach for their dreams

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Maloney, Linda

Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan

Title: Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan
Author: Melissa Bowersock
Genre: Non-Fiction Bioigraphy
Reviewer: Edward Kelly

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1460973194

Marcia Gates was an Army nurse and prisoner of war during WWll. As an "Angel of Bataan," she spent three years in a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. This is her story, told through her letters and the newspaper clippings, photos and letters collected by her mother. Melissa Bowersock is the niece of Marcia Gates.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Bowersock, Marcia

From Geordie Land to No mans land

Title: From Geordie Land to No Mans Land
Author: George Russell Elder/Vivienne Toon
Genre: Memoir
Reviewer: Mike Mullins

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B005UNQG5A

In writing his `one and only' book, George Elder, a proud Geordie, detailed
many of his experiences endured whilst serving in the British Army during
World War 1. Many of his tales would not have been appreciated by his peers,
but they actually happened and would have been recognised by the common
soldier. From Geordie Land to No Mans land was written to inform his family,
friends and anyone buying his book of the real life events that occurred. How
an ordinary man survived 4 years in the front line experiencing the horrors
of war that most of us could not imagine, enduring many privations such as
mud, cold, hunger, thirst and fear of imminent death all around him. George
maintained his spirit by forming a close bond with his fellow Geordies even
refusing to be transferred to Hospital in case he could not return to his
original unit. His description of the intensity of shell fire that we have
seen in pictures of the battlefields of Flanders and the Somme bring to life
how men endured the unendurable, how men lived as animals, how men coped with
all the privations of the battlefield. What he doesn't describe is how he
coped with life immediately after the war, when he returned to civilian life.
His post war diary did detail the problems his family faced with sickness and
lack of money, but as we are now aware of the post Falklands and the Gulf
wars the physiological effects on men is a story in itself. Coping with
ordinary life after 4 years of war living on the edge in fear of imminent
death would have been a major issue for George and his family.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Toon, Vivienne

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