Title: When Whippoorwills Call
Author: John Bandy
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0595212727
A 16 year old, high school dropout leaves home to avoid incarceration in the juvenile detention center. Using a fraudulent birth certificate, he enlists in the army, where he finds an extremely hostile environment. Seeking refuge in the army he discovers that he cannot run away from himself and the family "curse."
As a member of the United States Constabulary in occupied Germany at the end of WW2 where he faces the greatest challenges of his life amid the war torn ruins of a conquered nation.
The book describes in lurid detail the misadventures of the men in the lower ranks of the military establishment and the effects of their relationships with the German population. As a fraudulent enlistee, he lives in constant fear of being discovered. He is further plagued by premonition of doom by the family "curse," the result of a terrible sin committed by his maternal grandfather.
Born in an impoverished, dysfunctional family in the midst of the Great Depression, he struggles to overcome the indoctrination of inferiority and social ostracism, the result of his mother's alcoholism,
The story traces the family history from his ancestors' 19th century Mississippi plantation to the early 1950's in segregated Birmingham, Alabama.