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SOLDIERS OF FREEDOM

From the World War Two series , Vol. 5

A granular and engrossing tale about the last months of World War II’s European theater.

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A historical novel focuses on the final Allied push to vanquish the Nazis in Germany during World War II.

This fifth installment of a series from Marquis tells the story of the war in Europe in 1944 and 1945 from a number of different perspectives. One chunk of the narrative is told through the viewpoint of Sgt. William McBurney, a young Black man who becomes a gunner in the “Black Panthers” of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first African American tank unit. Another portion centers on Gen. George Patton, the famous leader of the 3rd Army that did so much of the lightning combat in the last year of the war in Europe. And a third shard of the narrative centers on Angela Lange, a fictionalized teenage resistance fighter in Germany, one of the “Edelweiss Pirates” risking their lives to overthrow Nazi rule in Cologne. All three of these protagonists face separate trials—McBurney against the ingrained racism of the United States armed services, Lange against the divided loyalties of a terrified people, and Patton against the tenacious forces of a battlefield enemy. Marquis bases his tale on scrupulous research, an admixture that makes this World War II series a thoroughly engaging example of heavily factual historical fiction. And perhaps inevitably, this reliance on historical documentation tends to make Patton the best drawn and most memorable of the book’s characters, although the author is a bit susceptible to hero worship in these segments (“He had long made it a point to dress with military spit and polish, and as he gazed out at the wreckage of war spread across the rolling French tableland, he appeared particularly colossal”). Counterbalancing Patton’s perspective with those of McBurney and Lange allows Marquis to make insightful commentary on the weird dualities of war. McBurney witnesses a human side of the fighting that tends to be missed by the more gung-ho Patton. All of these threads are rendered with a genuinely gripping forward momentum.

A granular and engrossing tale about the last months of World War II’s European theater.

Pub Date: March 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943593-27-9

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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THE SWALLOWED MAN

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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