(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.

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) King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta by Marc Morris

Publisher and Publication Date: Pegasus Books. 2015.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history.
Pages: 400.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history and the British monarchy.
Rating: Very good.

Goodreads page for Marc Morris.

Marc Morris’ webpage. Has not been updated since 2016.

Sixteen illustrations in color.

Included is a translation of the Magna Carta.

Amazon link

I had this book in a TBR stack since 2015.

Royal house of Plantagenet in England. This house ruled 1154 to 1485.
John was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. John had four older brothers and was not expected to become a king.
Henry II ruled 1154-1189.
Richard I Lionheart ruled 1189-1199. Richard did not have legitimate heirs.
John ruled 1199-1216.
John’s older brothers: William, Henry, Richard I, and Geoffrey all died leaving John as the heir to the throne.

Chapter one begins by explaining John is the ruler of a large domain. He is king of England and most of south Wales. He is lord of Ireland. Duke of Normandy. Count of Anjou. Duke of Aquitaine. He had only been king for a couple of years, but his foe is King Philip II of France. Philip had been king 23 years. In 1203, John’s large domain is threatened by Philip.
Chapter two backs up to the lineage of his family, childhood, parents marriage crisis, and John’s older brothers and their struggles with Henry II.
Chapter three is “the siege of Chateau Gaillard” in 1203-04.
Chapter four goes back to 1189 when Henry II died. Richard’s reign, his activity during the crusade, Geoffrey’s death, and John became Richard’s successor. While Richard is away John made his move to be in charge.
The rest of the book is in chronological order of the events in John’s reign.

My Thoughts:
John has a bad reputation. I must admit I’m not fond of him. However, my interest has been peaked from previous books I’ve read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and British royal history.

A few things I learned:
1. During King John‘s reign, records or documents were kept unlike previous royals before him.
2. A book written about William Marshall tells about John’s reign. Marc Morris points out it was Marshall’s family who produced the book. The book is favorably slanted to Marshall and not John.
3. John’s buried body was found in the 18th century.

What I dislike about the book is jumping in time during the first part of the book. I prefer a nonfiction book be chronological in events.

King John is not dry. It is an entertaining read.

The story of King John is told in about 300 pages. This is an easy to digest biography.

There are 45 pages with lists of the notes and sources for the study of King John.

I feel this is a thorough examination of King John. Morris illustrates John’s life and show him to be a man who was harsh, vindictive, a liar, oppressive, and a sexual predator. However, John is known in at least one positive light because of the Magna Carta.

King John on a stag hunt.

(Review) We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport by Deborah Hopkinson

Publisher and Publication Date: Scholastic Focus. February 4, 2020.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 368.
Format: E-book.
Source: Library copy.
Audience: Middle school readers or any age above middle school with an interest in World War II and Holocaust history. At the publisher, the age range is 8-12. I feel the age is closer to 10 to 12.
Rating: Very good.

Several black and white photographs are shown.

The publisher is Scholastic Focus. Their mission is to publish quality middle grade nonfiction books.
Link for the book at Scholastic Focus: We Had to Be Brave.

Recently I read and reviewed a historical fiction book, The Last Train to London. I’ve also watched at least one documentary on Prime Video on this history. It is the history of Kindertransport. Kindertransport was an organized effort to rescue Jewish children during pre-World War II. Most of the children were rescued from 1938-1939.
To read more information about Kindertransport:
Jewish Virtual Library
There are several YouTube videos on the Kindertransport.

We Had to Be Brave begins by sharing a brief bio of Adolf Hitler, and when he and the Nazis came to power. The year is 1933. It was at that time, the persecution of the Jews began escalating. In 1935, the Jews citizenship was taken away. The Nazis also persecuted people of political beliefs contrary to Nazis. They persecuted people with disabilities, the Romany or Gypsy, and LGBTQ.
Most of the children who survived because of the Kindertransport were from Germany and Austria but also Poland and Czechoslovakia.
The story mainly centers on three children who were apart of the Kindertransport.
1. Leslie Brent.
2. Marianne Elsley.
3. Ruth Oppenheimer David.

My Thoughts:
I love several things about this book but was left wanting a bit more. I believe it helps to have personal lives shared in a history book to create an strong effect. The book mainly shares the lives of three children. I feel my response is because of my age, and, because I’ve read a lengthy list of Holocaust and World War II books. I want more illustrations of personal lives.
We Had to Be Brave shares other people who were apart of the movement to try and stop Hitler and Nazi power. These people I’ve read about in other books: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the White Rose students.
I feel We Had to Be Brave is a solid first book for a young student to learn about this period in history.
Additional reasons why I enjoyed reading this book:
1. Other rescue groups involved in helping the Jews are noted in the book.
2. I learned about the network and steps involved in rescuing the children.
3. I learned about the faithful and dedicated work of those involved in the rescue of children.
4. In chapter seven, a story is shared about one particular family’s abuse by the Nazis. It is their story shared that represents so many others.
5. The book encourages young adults to tell trusted adults when they hear anti-Semitism.

(Review) Fragments of Isabella: A Memoir of Auschwitz by Isabella Leitner

Publisher and Publication Date: Open Road Media. 2016. First published 1978.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 94.
Format: Kindle Unlimited eBook. Originally the eBook was obtained by me through NetGalley and I deleted it by accident.
Source: I am a paid member of the Kindle Unlimited program.
Audience: Readers of Holocaust memoirs.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon: Fragments of Isabella

Further links of interest:
Mengele and the Holocaust
Encyclopedia-this site has pop-up ads
Holocaust Chronicle

The YouTube is an audio (only) recording in English of Isabella Leitner telling her story.

May 1944.
Isabella Leitner (age 23) began her brief memoir with the day of deportation. She and her family live in Kisvárda, Hungary. They are Jews. Their father is already in America and working to get their immigration papers. After arrival at Auschwitz, Isabella and her three sisters survive the first point of selection to live. It was Mengele who selected them, but other family members were murdered.
Fragments of Isabella is a deeply emotional, compelling, and harrowing account of the “struggle to survive.”

My Thoughts:
From the first sentence, I became consumed in the pages of the personal, horrific, and raw account. I believe it might have been too much, to read a lengthy story. I read the book cover to cover in 1 sitting.

On the day of deportation, Isabella is having her period. I want you to imagine what that must have been like. The experience of being packed in a train car with 74 other humans. There isn’t a bathroom. There isn’t a place to clean-up. There isn’t a place to sit. There isn’t a place to hide. This experience alone is suffering.

Several reasons why this memoir is excellent.
1. The memoir captures the horror and despair of Auschwitz.
2. It is an eyewitness account.
3. The story is told in a chronological order of events with personal feelings and thoughts added.
4. The story highlights and documents the evil acts of Nazi brutality and murder.
5. The story explains post traumatic stress that continued to impact life.

(Review) Nazi Wives by James Wyllie

Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press. November 3, 2020.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. German History. World War II. Nazi Germany.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley and the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of nonfiction history with the subject of Nazi Germany.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

These men were either Nazi Party leaders or in Adolf Hitler’s personal staff.
Martin Bormann was married to Gerda. They had 10 children. His mistress was Manja Behrens.
Joseph Goebbels was married to Magda. She had a son from a first marriage. Joseph and Magda had 6 children, 1 son and 5 daughters.
Hermann Göring or Goering was married first to Carin and later Emmy. Goering had 1 daughter with Emmy. Carin had a son from a previous marriage.
Reinhard Heydrich was married to Lina. They had 4 children.
Heinrich Himmler was married to Margarete. They had 1 daughter and an adopted a son. His mistress and the mother of 2 of his children, Hedwig Potthast.
Adolf Hitler had 2 mistresses, the last one he married. Angela Maria “Geli” Raubal and Eva Braun. No children.
Rudolf Hess married Ilse. They had 1 son.

Nazi Wives is an in-depth study of the wives and mistresses of the men who were closest to Adolf Hitler. Magda Goebbels was considered the 1st lady of the 3rd Reich. In addition, 2 of the women examined were Hitler’s mistresses [1 of them became his wife].

Nazi Wives is also an overview of the Nazi party and its origins. For example, the start of the German Worker’s Party in 1919 and the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.

My Thoughts:
My first thought is Nazi Wives is a difficult book to read. It is difficult because I dislike all of the characters. They are repulsive to me. However, Nazi Wives is a book unlike other books I’ve read about the Nazi Party and the people who were its leaders.
I read a reviewer remark these people were just like any other people. No. No. I vehemently disagree. Healthy functioning people do not create and collect furniture crafted from human bones. Humans who perished because they were murdered!

An early statement in the book set the tone and theme.
“The women were drawn to savior like men.”
In looking at men as their savior, they idolized them to the point of taking on whatever belief and ideology these men believed. The women were absorbed in the godlike men. This is scary stuff, because the women gave control of themselves, their children, and their belief system over to mere humans who were of course murderers.
It is hard to wrap my mind around a woman who let her daughter have an affair with an uncle. Hitler was technically the half brother of the young woman’s mother. This is still, at the least, inappropriate. Yet, she displayed the savior like mind-set for Hitler.

This is a heavy and ambitious book because it is about several people and families. I’m a note taker for every book I read. So, keeping up with Nazi Wives was not a problem. It might be a problem for people who do not take notes.

Not all the wives were in the inner circle compared to those who were often at Hitler’s Berghof home; and, there was jealousy and envy among them. There was a pecking order with the women. Certain women were regarded more Aryan looking or they represented the idea of what a Nazi wife should be like.

There are several new things I learned in reading Nazi Wives.
For example, both Hitler’s girlfriends attempted suicide. One of them succeeded.
I didn’t know several in the Nazi Party believed in paganism.
One of the men was revolted by sex, but most of them had multiple sex playmates besides their wives.

Nazi Wives reveals the specific roles of the wives who contributed to the mistreatment and abuse of Jews. And, their continued anti-Semitism post war.

I believe the research for Nazi Wives is remarkable. For example, Hitler’s valet gave information about the final days of Hitler and Eva Braun. Some of the wives gave interviews or wrote memoirs. Some of the wives remained quiet, never revealing their candid stories.

The final chapter chronicles the characters post World War II. Those who were arrested for war crimes, exonerated, sentenced for prison terms or death, and those who took their own lives.

Over-all this is an important book! It’s important in the revealing of critical information about these people. History knows their action against the Jews. History knows their specific work in the Nazi Party and World War II. Nazi Wives recreates the personal and intimate nature of their lives.