[Review] Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story from Tennessee Eagle Scout to General Montgomery’s “Flying Fortress” by Colonel Richard Ernest Evans and Barbara Evans Kinnear

Publisher and Publication Date: Kieran Publishing. July 3, 2021.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography. War memoir.
Pages: 508.
Format: Large Paperback. 8×10 size.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Books Forward and Barbara Kinnear. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of war memoirs.
Rating: Excellent.

Site for the book: Richard Eager.

Twitter/ Facebook/ Instagram

A write-up about the book is located in the Knoxville Daily Sun.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Summary:

Barbara Kinnear and her late father’s debut release, Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story from Tennessee Eagle Scouts to General Montgomery’s “Flying Fortress” (July 3, 2021, Kieran Publishing Company) showcases the humanity and personalities of war heroes in a charming biography. The family of U.S. Air Force veteran, Richard Earnest Evans, has preserved his history in a captivating new book. A detailed account of the golden age of aviation, spanning the 1930’s to the 1960’s, told through the firsthand stories of beloved son, brother and father and heroic pilot, Colonel Richard Ernest Evans.

A bet between WWII commanders. An Eagle Scout from Tennessee assigned to pilot one of the greatest leaders of the Allied Forces. This is the story of how young Captain Richard Evans became the B-17 “Flying Fortress” pilot for Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, Commander of the British 8th Army, during missions throughout North Africa and Italy.

My Thoughts:

My first thought is this book targets a specific group of readers because not all readers will want to read detailed information about flight details, the mechanics of flying, and military words. For me, I enjoy reading war memoirs. I enjoy reading a story I’ve not heard before.

Second, the book shares stories of Richard Eager as a child growing up and personal details of life as a family man. The book is not completely chronological in time. As far as his military experiences it follows chronological time, but he reminisces in whole chapters about his childhood.

Richard Eager’s personality is displayed in his writing style. He is matter of fact, determined, confident, detailed, and freely expresses himself. He has a keen sense of humor.

The story is told from Richard’s voice. He is the narrator.

This is a large paperback filled with both story, and black and white photographs of people and maps. I want to mention this because it’s a chunkster size book.

The dedication of the book (located in the opening) is memorable.

I believe this is a splendid war memoir!

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(Review) Three Wise Men: A Navy Seal, A Green Beret and How Their Marine Brother Became a War’s Sole Survivor by Beau Wise and Tom Sileo

Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press. January 5, 2021.
Genre: Nonfiction. War history. Biography. Autobiography.
Pages: 304.
Format: E-book.
Source: NetGalley. I received a complimentary e-book copy from NetGalley, but I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of war history.
Rating: Excellent.

Link to an article about the Wise parents: The Washington Post.

Amazon link to pre-order

Facebook page for the book: Three Wise Men.

For more info @ St. Martin’s Press: Three Wise Men.

Summary:
Three Wise Men is the story of three brothers who served in three different military branches during the time period of the war of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the Iraq war.
It is Beau Wise the youngest brother who tells their story.
The brothers are Jeremy, Ben, and Beau. They have a sister named Heather. They grew up in the town of El Dorado, Arkansas. Their parents are loving and supportive people.
Each brother joined the military after the 9/11 attacks in America.
Jeremy served as a US Navy Seal. He later worked CIA contract work in Afghanistan.
Ben served as a US Army Green Beret sniper.
Beau served as a US Marine.
After Jeremy and Ben were killed, Beau was pulled from serving in combat operations.
Jeremy recreates their stories: sharing boyhood memories, tender moments with family, the dedication and perseverance during their military service, and the ultimate sacrifice while serving.

My Thoughts:
This is the second book I’ve read about those who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
This topic touches my heart because my own son served in the military during the war in Iraq.

I have several thoughts about this book.
1.The first is what better person to pen the story and narrate then the brother who both served in the military and has fallen service family members. This brings a different perspective, rather than an author with no personal attachment to the war or of the experience of loosing a loved one.
Beau understands personally the sacrifice of serving in combat operations.
Since Beau was in the Marines, he understands the military language, training, the stress of combat, and the decompression time after a combat Veteran returns home. He also understands life post war and military.
2. Three Wise Men is told in a serious and somber mood, but there are moments of humor and fond memories shared.
3. Three Wise Men is not described as a Christian book, but there are several Bible verses included. For example: Isaiah 6:8, 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 3:12-21, Hebrews 11:1, Hebrews 12:1-2, and 1 John 3:18.
4. I feel the book depicts a full-length picture of the three brothers.
5. The subject is told both in a chronological format, but it is also told retrospectively.
6. Three Wise Men is a testament for all of those who have served in the military during a time of war.

Why does this story matter?
Three Wise Men is a record of an exceptional family who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is their legacy that demonstrates valor both on the battlefield and at home.



(Review) Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C. S. Lewis

Publisher and Publication Date: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. I do not know the publishing date. The publishing company existed between 1960 and 1970. The book only has one date and that’s the copyright date of 1955.
Genre: Nonfiction. Autobiography.
Pages: 239.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: The book was in a to be thrown away pile at a church. It was gifted to me.
Audience: Readers of C. S. Lewis.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link
If you are an Audible member this book is included with membership.

Official website of C. S. Lewis

Summary:
Surprised By Joy is the story of C. S. Lewis’ life. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1898. His mother died when he was a boy. He and his older brother were raised by a single parent father. Both boys went on to higher learning. Both boys were in World War I. C. S. Lewis was a teacher at Magdalen College, Oxford, and at Cambridge. He later wrote both fiction and nonfiction books. He was a leader in the literary group Inklings.
Goodreads has a list of 67 books Lewis wrote.
Lewis explains in the preface he had been encouraged to write a book about his conversion from atheism to Christianity. Surprised By Joy is Lewis’ biography and the story of his conversion to Christianity.
Clive Staples Lewis died on November 22, 1963. He and John F. Kennedy both died on the same day.

My Thoughts:
My copy is a gem because it’s at least an early edition. I’m so thankful it was saved from a trash dump.
I’ve read several of Lewis’ books, but Surprised By Joy is a first time read. I’ve heard other authors refer to this book and my interest had been peaked.
What I love about this book is Lewis is matter of fact about the telling his life story. He doesn’t use descriptive words to create drama. His mother’s death impacted his life. His experiences during World War I impacted his life. He moves through those memories and doesn’t stop long. This book was written before his marriage to Joy Davidman.
It is at the end of the book that the word joy begins to register in my mind as to what he’d been looking for in life.
His story gave me an understanding of his thought process, motivations, and ambitions; and, the journey from unbelieving to believing.

(Review) A Bookshop in Berlin by Francoise Frenkel

Publisher and Publication Date: Atria Books. December 3, 2019.
Genre: Memoir. Autobiography. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary ebook copy from NetGalley and Atria Books, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon

Author Info:
Françoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, she opened the first French-language bookshop in Berlin with her husband. Frenkel’s bookshop miraculously survived Kristallnacht, when hundreds of synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed. But in the summer of 1939, with war looming, Frenkel fled to Paris. She sought refuge across occupied France for the next several years until finally, on her third attempt, escaping across the border to Switzerland, where she wrote a memoir documenting her refugee experience. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No Place to Lay One’s Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.

Summary:
In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her.

My Thoughts:

A Bookshop in Berlin is an amazing story for several reasons.

  • The book was first published in the French language in 1945. The Swiss publishing company closed a long time ago. The book was found (by chance) and republished in 2015.
  • A Bookshop in Berlin shows Europe in the years before World War I, to the midway point of World War II. This gave me a panoramic history lesson: politically, geographically, anti-Semitism, rise of Nazism, and the elite book culture.
  • Through Frenkel’s eyes, I see the escalating tension and hostility against the Jews. The restrictions enacted. The looting and burning of buildings. The roundups of the Jews. The fear of who to trust and who not to trust.
  • Frenkel’s grit and determination to escape.
  • The ordinary people who were extraordinary in their courage to help strangers.
  • The great love Frankel carried all her life for books, and for the fond memories of the bookshop she once owned.
  • Frankel shared her thoughts and feelings behind her actions.

Francoise Frenkel was a wonderful writer. I became absorbed in her story from the start. It’s a shame this is the only known book she wrote.

In some of the book the word “we” is used. Who is the “we”? Is it her husband? This is an interesting and mysterious point. She was married, but nothing is mentioned in the book about him. So many unanswered questions just from this unmentioned point. It’s possible they had a falling out and separated. It’s possible that it’s too painful to mention him in her story. Both are plausible.

(Review) Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

fire road

Publisher and Publication Date: Tyndale Momentum. October 3, 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Autobiography.
Pages: 336.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Readers who love autobiographies, Vietnam war history; and those who want to read about the power of forgiveness and peace.

23 illustrations

Amazon

 

 

Summary:
Before the spring of 1972, the war seemed far removed from Kim’s village of Trang Bang, Vietnam. Men in black pajamas, strangers, began coming through the village in the night. These men were the Viet Cong. In June 1972, she and her family fled to a temple hoping it was a safe place from a bombing, but a plane flying low dropped a bomb with Napalm. It was during this napalm attack that she was burned. Kim’s story shows a harrowing life from the napalm burning. Her ordeal of the burned skin removal, skin grafting, and no medicine for pain is heartbreaking. The book follows her life through to the end of the war, Cambodian’s Kampucheans, family’s survival, college years, and a chance of escape for a better life.
Kim’s story is a focus on her personally. Her feelings about the burns and its life sentence of pain. But, the story reveals her Christian belief, which includes forgiveness and peace to all people who had caused suffering.

My Thoughts:
Several reasons led me to give this book an excellent rating.
•This is not a political book. Kim’s account of her life is through the lens of reflection. She was an innocent child swept up in a war.
•Kim’s story gave me a view of the Vietnam War from a child’s perspective.
•The burns that Kim had gave me a view of the treatment that was used on her. The treatments that were used are followed through the years. Especially the modern advancement of what can be done medically.
•Kim’s story is ultimately one of hope and peace, despite the suffering of the war and her burns.