Battle Stations by Roger Jewett follows several people through the onset of World War II. The principal character is Captain Andre Troost, who worked with the British navy, escorting freighter convoys from the Atlantic midpoint on their voyages to England. He is, like many military men who spend a lot of time away from home, having marital difficulties, which are only compounded when he’s promoted to rear admiral and reassigned to Pearl Harbor, shortly before the Japanese attack. Several other characters, including Troost’s son, a navy flight school dropout, meet and interact as war breaks out, from the dark days of the near destruction of the U.S. Pacific fleet, to the turning point in the war when the U.S. knocks out much of Japan’s carrier force.
Fictional, but based upon true events, Battle Stations takes the reader into the reality of war, not a romantic endeavor, but the gritty, frightening, bloody encounter between men—and women—sent by nations that often don’t consider the human cost when deciding to go to war. This book looks at war through the eyes of some of those humans who have to pay the cost.
I received an advanced review copy of the book. It is recommended reading for anyone who wants to experience the reality of combat. The author knows his stuff.
I give this story five stars.
Rod Strong enlisted in the army with the objective of becoming a member of the Old Guard Sentinels, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. With war raging in the Middle East, though, he’s required to do his deployment. An injury makes it seemingly impossible for him to fulfill his dream, but Rod is determined to live up to his surname.
Twenty-One Steps of Courage by Sarah Bates is the story of courage and determination that follows Rod through war, recovery, and the intensely hard work of trying to achieve an impossible dream. The author has done a fairly good job of showing aspects of a soldier’s life that seldom make it into popular media, or even the mass media.
A well-written story that will stay with you long after you stop reading. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it four stars.
Those Who Dare by Phil Ward is the first book in a series of novels about British raiding forces in World War II. Led by Lt. John Randall, an American officer who joined the UK forces early in the war, these brave volunteers engaged in dangerous hit-and-run attacks against German installations in occupied France. A former cavalry officer, Randall brought guerilla tactics and an American can-do attitude to the buttoned British forces, in the process learning to lead in combat, while at the same time, dealing with his growing affections for the hard core British baroness, herself trained in clandestine warfare, and who is working to elevate the position of women in the hide-bound British system.
This novel is meticulously researched, and the author does a masterful job of weaving actual historical personalities into his fictional narrative. Military details are on the money, and used in such a way that they don’t disrupt the narrative or flow of the book. Characters are fully fleshed out, and the reader comes away from the book with a sense that you ‘know’ them.
If you like military fiction, you’ll love this book. While there are some oddities in formatting in the e-book version, they do not detract from the pleasure of reading well-crafted military fiction.
I give this opening salvo four stars.
Patrick O’Toole came from a family of fishermen and sailors. He’d always known that the navy was his destiny. Raised by a stern grandfather, he also had to live with doubts that he was ‘adequate’ to the tasks before him. He joined the navy just in time for World War 2, but when a ship is sunk by the Japanese when he’s officer of the deck, his doubts intensify, and he becomes even more driven and determined to do better.
Vows to the Fallen by Larry Laswell is military fiction at its finest. It chronicles the saga of Patrick O’Toole during some of the most momentous and horrific sea battles of the Pacific as the Allies tried to beat back the Japanese fleet. The action is so rich in detail, the acrid smell of gun powder and blood will sting your nose, and the cries of the wounded and dying will haunt your dreams. Laswell writes about war as it is; not the stylized version you see on the screen, but the dirty, bloody reality that those who go to war experience.
If you’ve never read war fiction, start with this one. If you’re a fan of the genre, put this on your list to read next.
I give this one a resounding five stars.