Non-Fiction

Truman and MacArthur: Adversaries for a Common Cause

Title: Truman and MacArthur: Adversaries for a Common Cause
Author: Donald J. Farinacci
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0557409020

The author's purpose in writing this book was to tell a story of events which occurred during a brief but momentous period in American history, involving two extraordinary men, President Harry S. Truman and General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur. The story tells of their interaction during a time of grave national crisis, how they veered badly off course and ultimately collided head-on. It was a collision which both altered the course of history and irreparably changed their personal destinies.

What is related here is first and foremost a human story, but one that plays out against the panorama of the Korean War--a nasty, brutish and fearsome slice of hell where what was at stake was nothing less than the determination of whether the Communist Sino-Soviet alliance would gain dominion by force over large regions of the continent of Asia or be contained and held in check by a coalition of United Nations Forces led by the United States.

As the drama unfolded during a critical period of approximately ten months in 1950 and 1951, the all-pervasive tension holding the principal players in its grip was the ever-present threat of nuclear war looming over all of humankind.

Other larger-than-life personalities also emerge in this epic tale and are interspersed with the two main characters. They include Eighth Army Commander Matthew B. Ridgway, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall, South Korean President Syngman Rhee, NATO Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ambassador Averell Harriman, Army General Walton W. Walker, Marine General O.P. Smith, Army Chief of Staff J. Lawton Collins, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley, and Marine Colonel "Chesty" Puller. Every one of them played an integral role in the drama and some of them such as Ridgway, Acheson, Marshall and Eisenhower actually changed the course of history. But, the overarching giants of this tale are Truman and MacArthur. Their saga of 1950-1951 underscores the fact that no matter what the magnitude of events, history is still primarily a collection of stories about people.

This is one of those stories--one that is part of the larger framework of the forty-five year-long Cold War, but one that is surpassed in importance by none other in that singularly perilous epoch of world history.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Farinacci, Donald

Riding a Donkey Backwards Through Afghanistan

Title: Riding a Donkey Backwards Through Afghanistan
Author: Mick Simonelli
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Hodge Wood

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1934937924

A behind-the-scenes account of America's critical effort to build an Afghanistan National Army. Written from the unique vantage point of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, this book reveals the inside story of the United States' army-building efforts. As the first comptroller responsible for funding the Afghanistan National Army, Mick earned the Bronze Star Medal while spending $400 million taxpayer dollars and planning the spending for $2.1 billion more.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Simonelli, Mick

American Knight, An

Title: An American Knight
Author: Norman Fulkerson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): ISBN / EAN

This first cradle-to-grave biography of Colonel John W. Ripley provides readers with the complete story about a great man who is considered by Marines, such as General Carl Mundy, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, to be on the same level as legends Chesty Puller and Dan Daly.

Colonel Ripley is most commonly known for his heroics in Vietnam during the Easter Offensive of 1972, where Colonel Gerald Turley ordered him to hold and die, in the face of over 30,000 North Vietnamese and 200 enemy tanks. John Ripley proceeded to blow the Dong Ha bridge, preventing the enemy from crossing. He unhesitatingly obeyed and earned the nation s second highest honor, the Navy Cross.

As stunning as the Dong Ha story is, there was much more to Colonel John Ripley. An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC narrates his early life and the influences which shaped his personality.

In youth, he was a rambunctious Huckleberry Finn who spent his days getting into all kinds of mischief in Radford, Virginia. The stories from this time period, so well narrated in An American Knight, will leave the reader with at least a smile, if not a laugh.

After his mischievous Huckleberry Finn days in Radford, he learned to discipline his wild side and, in spite of his intellectual weaknesses, went on to graduate from the Naval Academy. The strength of will with which he accomplished this task was later applied on the battlefield, where he earned the status of legend during his first tour in Vietnam as a 28-year-old Captain.

Readers will also get to know about John Ripley, the father, but more importantly the chaste husband. When he was approached by people wanting to make a movie about his life he agreed as long as his character was not portrayed as having a romantic relationship in Vietnam. I have never been, he said, nor will I ever be unfaithful to my wife.

The final chapters narrate the struggle Colonel Ripley endured with a bad liver. He would finally undergo two liver transplants, the last one of which was defined as the most dramatic in history.

If a young officer or Marine ever asks what is the meaning of Semper Fidelis Colonel Ripley once told a friend, tell them my story.

This is his story!

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Fulkerson, Norman

American Family in World War II, An

Title: An American Family in World War II
Author: Sandra O'Connell, Ralph L. Minker, Harry Butowsky
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Reviewer: Dave Brown

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1595710817

An American Family in War II is the story of a young B-17 pilot, his parents and sisters, captured in the extraordinary collection of 800 letters that tell the story of one family's daily struggle to keep faith and hope alive. Starting in February 1943, Lee Minker writes from eight different U.S. Army Air Corps training camps, the voices of the family come from mother's kitchen, dad's office, Shirley's dorm room, Bernice on the front porch. The letters capture daily events as they happened; race riots, theft at the rationing board, black-outs, military stalemate in the Pacific and Europe, the lonely holidays and missed birthdays. And then, the conversation gains new tension as their son and brother leaves for a base "somewhere in England."

Unlike any other story of World War II, An American Family is the diary of an entire family from February 1943 to the end of the war. Eighteen year old Lee Minker's letters contain complete detail of the rigors of pilot training, as he progressed through flying the Piper cub at age 18 to taking command of a B-17 crew just after his 20th birthday and then flying missions 37 missions over Nazi Germany. The letters from the homefront nurtured and sustained him, all the while leaving a highly detailed record of life in America, totally changed by war. This is our history, as people lived it, their voices poignantly speaking to us. The timeless correspondence of the five members of the Minker family will resonate not only with those who remember those years, but with those separated from loved ones in war zones today.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
O'Connell, Sandra
Butowsky, Harry
Minker, Ralph L.

This is Latch: The Story of Admiral Roy L. Hoffmann

Title: This is Latch: The Story of Admiral Roy L. Hoffmann
Author: Weymouth Symmes
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Reviewer: Bill McDonald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1575101378

This is Latch is a biography of Rear Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann, who served in three wars (WW II, Korea and Vietnam). Adm. Hoffmann commanded four ships in his career. He was the gunnery officer aboard the USS Pirate when she struck a mine during the Korean War and sank in less than five minutes. Admiral Hoffmann was the Commander of Task Force 115 (the Market Time forces) in Vietnam, which included U.S. Navy Swift Boats. during the advent of the SEALORDS operation under Admiral Zumwalt. In retirement, Admiral Hoffmann founded and led Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth during the 2004 election. This is Latch has 529 pages, and 162 photos, three maps, 60 plus interviews, a glossary, sources and index. It is a hardbound edition.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Symmes, Weymouth

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