Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review of "America's Unknown Wars" by William S. Shepard

I just finished "America's Unknown Wars" late last night. William Shepard has done a great job in compiling a bit of history that barely anybody talks about in this easy-to-read collection of essays. I've been a history teacher for going on twenty years, and I learned new things in his book. Little discussed history has always interested me the most, so I was eager to dig into this book. It didn't disappoint.

I enjoyed all four of the sections. The Spanish-American War has always been of particular interest to me, and it's covered quite nicely. That's been called a "splendid little war", but it had a tremendous impact on both US and world history. It was nice to see Mr. Shepard discuss it.

This isn't an in depth text book. It's a relatively light read that moves along at a good clip. It's an overview. I'd recommend this book to anybody with an interest in US history.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beautiful review of "SAT & BAF! Memories of a Tower Rat"

Here is a lovely review of SAT & BAF! Memories of a Tower Rat by Joanne Mazzotta.

Doug Depew stepped off a 747 after it landed in Germany. It was to be the most powerfully memorable annex of his life. Often it is said in written reviews, "This is not the sort of book I usually read." I must say it now. I have not experienced the armed forces. Though I am pleased and proud to be an American and have given due respect to our military men and woman, I would have not read this book if I did not meet Doug Depew on a writer's discussion group. His personality doesn't reveal the jolting experiences he tells of in SAT&BAF. He is likable and has a pleasant friendliness about him.

He takes you with him to Germany and introduces you to his platoon, a family of new "brothers" while your mouth hangs open in shock at some of their shenanigans. Aligning himself with the perimeters of a serious mission, he manages to preserve his passion for fun, sex, relationships with beautiful German girls, booze banquets and insane ideas while off base. SAT&BAF is written in a flowing conversational manner. He exhibits a style of his own while he describes the years he spent in West Germany. He goes on to explain in detail his nightlife in the military and his responsibilities as a soldier commissioned to guard a nuclear storage station in a country where he was a foreigner. The menacing fight to keep himself alive while evolving from boy to man, his cohorts often risk that process with some ideas that could have cost him more than his luck had to give.

His experience during a time in American history few really know of will inform you and make you rethink the cold war. He had only been on earth for 18 years when he became a tower rat and reading Doug Depew's rendition of the trouble he and his beloved friends got into, I wasn't sure which mission was more dangerous, his outings in Germany or his tower responsibilities as a soldier.

Seeing it all from a mother's vantage point, it was hard not to worry about him, and yet harder not to crack up laughing at some of his escapades with the daily threat of death hovering over that tower. When he boarded that 747 for the last time, I exhaled.