A bracing start to a new series about naval warfare.

SHEPPARD AND THE FRENCH RESCUE

From the Allies and Enemies series , Vol. 1

A work of speculative fiction focuses on World War II.

This volume, the first in Weatherly’s (Sheppard of the Argonne, 2014) new Allies and Enemies series, follows in the wake of his previous novel. It’s military fiction with a twist, as he explores what naval warfare would have look like during World War II if the 1922 Five-Power Treaty limiting shipbuilding hadn’t happened. In his author’s note, he explains, “I chose to accelerate some technology development such as ship building, metallurgy, ordinance, and radar, while keeping others such as aircraft close to the actual timelines since that development was not restricted by treaty.” As this tale opens, Capt. Sheppard McCloud is a reluctant national hero after the Allies’ victory in the Battle of Cape Vilan. Instead of celebrating, Sheppard remains haunted by the many sailors who died: “Oceanic swells left no tombstones, no markers for young lives snuffed short at his order.” Although Sheppard enjoys his days with his soul mate and wife, Evelyn, he’s soon temporarily distracted from his nightmares by new orders. He and his Argonne crew must sneak Adm. John Hamblen across the Atlantic to persuade the French navy not to turn over their ships to the Axis. But it’s hard to hide a massive battle cruiser such as the Argonne, and before long, Sheppard is entangled in a conflict that he is unlikely to win with the Italians and Germans. Weatherly has a sterling protagonist in the tormented Sheppard, who is highly skilled as a leader but who tends to dwell on his losses rather than his wins. The author’s detailed descriptions of the battles give the reader a real “you-are-there” feeling. The flip side is that the minutiae he provides can be overwhelming at times. Do readers really need a two-page, step-by-step description of how shells are fired? Still, Weatherly makes it possible to hear the crash of the guns and the rending of steel as a shell hits. Readers don’t have to understand everything the author supplies to realize how much must go right for a ship to survive rather than sink. That’s why his books work.

A bracing start to a new series about naval warfare.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63393-362-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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