All the sizzle, chaos, noise and scariness of war is clay in the hands of ace storyteller Lynch.
The proceedings open with a baseball game, an image that could not be more peacefully patriotic than a slice of apple pie in the days preceding World War II. War looms, and narrator Roman Bucyk has enlisted while the country is still neutral. But Bucyk has a bead on things: “The Nazis hate baseball. This I know. And I hate the Nazis.” Roman is no rube; he is just full of bravado and bowled over by feelings of honor and integrity. He gets the girl of his dreams to agree to an engagement, and then it is off to basic training. Lynch serves all this up with a gathering sense of drama, though he keeps the braggadocio to a level that allows readers to see the wide-eyed apprehension behind the bluster. Then, in a smart and entertaining move, Lynch situates the action not in the well-worn Pacific or European theaters, but in North Africa, introducing readers to Algeria, to the strangeness of having to fight the French, to Djebel Hamra and Sidi Bouzid as the fighting clanks toward Tunisia.
As he did with his four-volume Vietnam series, Lynch effectively takes readers back to the good war. (Historical fiction. 10-14)