Category Archives: Military

The Dot on the Left: Life Lessons on Moving from Below Average to Ahead of the Curve by Dave Swanson

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The Dot on the LeftWhen readers turn to a self-help book they are looking for something new and different. There have been thousands of books written about overcoming adversity, striving to improve yourself, finding strength from within, etc… The question when promoting these self-help books is not only how to market them but finding something unique that no one else has written previously.

Dave Swanson’s self-help/inspirational book entitled THE DOT ON THE LEFT: Life Lessons on Moving from Below Average to Ahead of the Curve is not as much another primer or how-to book. Rather, Swanson simply tells his own story and how he overcame adversity, negativity and labels others wished to place upon him and instead listened only to his inner feelings as he pushed himself to succeed at every goal he set for himself.

This is a great start, but to really grab readers and keep them engaged you also need to have some credibility beyond just a good story. Swanson has that in droves. In addition to being a published author he is also a motivational speaker and former U.S. Army infantry platoon leader. He knows about real adversity as he survived over 100 firefights while deployed to Sadr City, Iraq. There’s an old adage that states ‘there are no atheists in fox-holes’! Well, to survive the type of warfare this man was faced with required much more than faith alone. Dave Swanson sounds like the type of person I want to listen to when he has something to say.

Shadow War: A Tom Locke Novel by Sean McFate

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Shadow WarMeet Tom Locke, Army Vet and employee of Apollo, a highly successful military contractor who gets the tough jobs done. His boss pulls him off a mission in North Africa and sends him to Eastern Europe to rescue a businessman that some in the US Government want to use to make a stand against Russia and Putin in Ukraine. The mission is to take back a natural gas facility from mercenaries hired by Russia to take it over. Putin is determined to retake the former Soviet states lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recapturing Ukraine would be a big step in completing that goal. The mission gets more complicated though when Locke runs into a former lover and his team casualties start adding up. Locke realizes that the very balance of world politics could rest on his success or failure and he is determined to see it thru to the end.

Click Here for More Information on Shadow War

Thunder in the Morning Calm by Don Brown

Thunder in the Morning CalmReviewed by Cy Hilterman

The North Korean War, Police Action, or Korean Conflict, whichever one would call it, occurred many years ago in the 1950’s and has been mostly forgotten except for those that survived, their families, and the families of those that were killed or missing. This excellently written story revolves around a prison camp in North Korea where a few American prisoners could possibly still exist from that war, now being quite old in their 80’s, if any survived. The story starts in a North Korean Prison where three that did survive that war were still alive but their day-to-day health was quite delicate. Their treatment, even for a healthy young prisoner, was torturous with no regard for age or health consideration. Keith, Robert, and Frank only existed, since no human should have had to endure those conditions. There was a woman that came in from outside the prison camp who would do some things to assist these men but she was limited to very little in the way of supplies.

Lieutenant Commander Gunner McCormick, United States Navy, was summoned to a meeting at the secret location of the Office of Naval Intelligence, unaware of the subject of his meeting. When Gunner left the meeting he knew there was a possibility that some Marines still could be alive in North Korea and he would do anything to attempt to rescue them. Gunner traveled across the nation and was then flown to the aircraft carrier, The USS Harry Truman, which was in the Yellow Sea just off the Korean Coast. Thus started the adventures of Gunner that caused international intrigue, infiltration of enemy territory, battles of life or death, and even some live battles that were unexpected.

Joker One by Donovan Campbell

Joker OneReviewed by Allen Hott

Joker One is a true accounting of a United States Marine Corps unit as they fought in Ramadi, Iraq in 2004. Lieutenant Donovan Campbell who was the Platoon Commander of the forty-man infantry platoon does a great job of telling the happenings of their year in the combat zone. Joker One was the radio call name for his platoon and it came about because it was the first platoon in a company led by a Captain who “laughed like a donkey braying”.

If you have any interest in the Marine Corps, its fighting structure, and how the Marines work and hang together this is your book. Campbell goes into great detail as he explains how his unit came together. He tells about highlights of the behavior of Marines in combat and how they react. He is rather hard on himself as he recounts mistakes that he feels that he made but he is also hard on our government in places. He is also hard on the Iraqi people who did not even give the Americans a chance to show what they were trying to do.

Campbell tells of the various Marines in his platoon and also in the company to which the platoon belonged. He describes his own superior or Company Commander as being a very nosed leatherneck who was extremely hard on the lieutenants under his command.

Kaboom, Embracing the Suck In A Savage Little War By Matt Gallagher

Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

KaKaboom, Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War by Matt GallagherThe author, Matt Gallagher, became a member of the army through the ROTC program (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and had no interest in war. While Matt was living his life of freedom, the war raged in Iraq placing many of our military in danger. He really didn’t give it a second thought. When the time came for Matt to go to Iraq, he had been partying in Hawaii trying to keep Iraq far from his mind and his life but the inevitable time came and he had to leave his life of fun with his friends, family, and his girlfriend. He was a Lieutenant and would be in charge of men that he had to take into war, something he never thought would exist in his life. The platoon he was given was named the “Gravediggers”, a choice name for a war unit!

Matt got along well with his platoon of enlisted men of various ranks. He did not socialize since this was supposed to be taboo in the military between officers and enlisted men but they all worked together as one. Matt describes a brief history of the area along with the ties and struggles between the various factions of Iraq. Some of the platoon’s activities required visiting the sheiks in their homes/palaces as well as sitting in meetings using the Iraqi interpreters. Much of the time the army platoons intermingled and worked with the Iraqi army, most of that time having to use interpreters. While on patrol they all had to be extremely cautious having eyes on every area near and distant as they moved or when they stopped for various reasons.

Tears in the Darkness by Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman

tearsReviewed by Cy Hilterman

The “Bataan Death March” during WWII in the Philippines was one of the most deadly and brutal excursions mandated by any enemy. The Japanese captured this area shortly after the beginning of WWII, which started when Japan destroyed Pearl Harbor in the Pacific. This scenario is captured through the eyes of those that lived it and the records they had kept. The writings or diaries that these men, mostly from the United States and the Philippines, wrote and managed to hide somewhere or wrote after their rescue after a harrowing ordeal that killed so many. The map included in the beginning of the book shows the Luzon Island, Manila, Bataan, and surrounding areas. All of this area was where most of this story occurred.

The attack on Pearl Harbor is described through both the American and the Japanese eyes and minds. Ben Steele was a young cowboy from Montana who rushed to join the Air Force once the war had begun. Being a country boy he wasn’t used to war or people that acted much different than his wild western style. The story tells a bit of training then moves rapidly to the Philippines where Ben and his units were sent to defend an area that had many Philippine and American soldiers, along with some other nations. The military leaders felt there was plenty of military in the area to repel any Japanese attack attempting to take the entire area. They were dead wrong. Some of the natives took off for the hills of the island but most stayed and fought the oncoming enemy that sent unending lines of men to attack and capture all they could. Many on both sides were killed, but eventually the Japanese did overtake the entire island, making the forces fighting surrender to the Japanese.