Fancying Casemate’s “Summer Blend of Fascinating Reads”: a .30 caliber machine gunner with God atop is shoulder; learning the true identities of “Catch-22’s” satiric caricatures; and how to advocate for America’s veterans
FLINGING HISTORY TO THE WINDS
AND GIVING FREE PLAY TO BOLD
AND BEAUTIFUL IMAGINATIONS
Readers must not be confused into believing the following three books are AWOL of historicity existence, authenticity, and genuineness. All three abound in the somewhat fictional or, better yet, poetical sense, and as such, in this reviewer’s opinion, rank among the best, nay, most loving, passionate books of 2022. With dignity and directness, each is an enriching piece of superb writing.
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
CF., m’emaire; L., memorial: 1. History of. Narration composed from personal
experience and a memory, esp. an account of one’s
life, or of episodes in it, written by oneself. 2. A
biography, esp. one written without specific regard for
Merriman-Webster, “A Dictionary of the English Language”
“A MACHINE GUNNER’S WAR – – From Normandy to Victory with the 1st Infantry Division in World War II”, by Ernest Albert “Andy” Andrews Jr., with the assistance of David B. Hurt. Casemate Publishers: 355 pages, hc; 2022. Inquiries: www.casematepublshers.com.
A rapid -fire World War II memoir with considerably more dignity, verve, and arousing battleground sweeps than most, “A Machine Gunner’s War” is an intense account of a young man at war with Hitler’s Germany, via the Big Red One, from D-Day through the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and Remagen to the Wehrmacht’s last stand in the Harz Mountains.
In retelling 15 months his life and experiences between the book’s Prologue, “Prelude to Invasion”, June 1, 1944, Camp D-8, the marshalling area at Down Wood in Dorset, England, to the conclusion, “Homeward Bound,” October 19,1945, Andy Andrews not only presents a broad chronicle of World War II’s final months, but also his own small window of amazement at the countless times God spared his life. “Where I survived brutal fight after brutal fight in the Hurtgen Forest and Battle of the Bulge, with only wounds, thousands of other men were slaughtered. I constantly prayed, pleading over and over to God to give me the physical strength to endure, to keep me in His protection, and to let His will be done with my life.” (Following WW II, Andy earned a degree in. Christian education and served in several positions in the Presbyterian Church.)
On D-Day, Andy’s company, part of the 1st Infantry on the USS Henrico, was delayed due to a problem with his landing craft. He reached Omaha Beach on the evening of June 6. It had been harrowing to cross the channel. Fighting in Normandy, Andy was nicked by a bullet and evacuated to England. A month later, when the wound healed, he returned to participate in the Normandy breakout. Andy joined in the chase of retreating German units across France and Belgium. His squad held off German counter attacks at the Siegfried Line, then fought their way through the Hurtgen Forest to take Hill 232, his hardest battle of the war. Again, he was wounded, this time in the shoulder.
Surgery and convalescence followed, and he was well enough to serve in the Battle of the Bulge. There, successful, the Allies then participated in the Roer and Rhine Campaigns, and soon battled to broaden the Remagen Bridgehead. Several times in these battles and firefights, he nearly was killed. As the war was ending in April 1945, his unit found itself fighting in Czechoslovakia where Andy watched the German armies surrender in the first days of May.
In his Preface, he writes, “My war is first and foremost a testimony of how God in His grace held me close to him from my beginning in Normandy on D-Day to its longed-for end in Prague on VE-Day, May 3, 1945. Other guys claimed to have some lucky token to save their lives, but my ‘Lucky Piece’ was the Lord, and I trusted Him to protect me. He blessed me with a long, full life that so many other boys from that time never got the chance to know. . . In sharing my combat experiences, it is my fervent prayer that all the future generations of Americans yet unborn never know war firsthand”. In short, this book is beautifully written, and its sadness of death is lightened by his serene faith, and in himself, Ernest Albert “Andy” Andrews, Jr.
L. hu’mor, hu’mor OF, fr., n. 1.a changing of a person’s health and temperament, hence one’s disposition or state of mind, mood; a caprice,
Whim, fancy; a whimsical action or happening
Thanks again, Merriman-Webster. . .
“THE TRUE STORY OF CATCH-22 – – The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II”, by Patricia Chapman Meder. Casemate Publishers: 240 pages, sc; 2022. Inquiries: www.casematepublishers.com.
Patricia Chapman Meder, a professional artist in both the fine and commercial arts for the past 35 years, 13 of them in Europe, and who authored this most satisfying, beautifully written interpretation of the Joseph Heller’s 1961 bestselling novel “Catch-22”, should receive the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Literature for this much-appreciated work.
When “Catch-22” first appeared after publication, Heller was inundated with questions whether any of Joe’s richly drawn characters were based on his actual war-brothers. To those who served with Heller in the 340th Bomb Group, virtually all the characters in Catch-22 were recognizable.
Pat’s three-part book blends fact, fancy, and history with full-blown original illustrations and rare, hitherto unpublished photos of these daring USAA flyers and their Corsican-based B-25 Mitchell. Along with descriptions of the 340th’s real wartime events, incidents, and vignettes the book includes 12 men of the Bomb Group relating 12 richly told tales of their own. It should be noted that when Catch-22 was published it was quickly apparent the book was based on the Bomb Group her dad commanded in WW II. It was obvious the true-life parallel would one day be authored. It should also be mentioned that Pat Meder has also penned a full-color companion book to the true story of Catch-22 containing her wonderful original artwork and caricatures of the individuals. Pull up “The True Story of Catch-22 illustrated”.
And, just in for review,
“WAR AND AMERICAN LIFE – – Reflections on Those Who Serve and Sacrifice”, by James Wright. Brandeis University Press: 242 pages, sc; 2022. Inquiries: www.brandeisuniversitypress.com.
This book is a compilation of published essays along with excerpts from two of James’ books dealing with war and its veterans – – and casualties. It also includes sections from his public lectures as well as original essays he wrote for this new book. All represents 15 years of direct work with veterans, as well as his personal involvements with these issues over 60 years as a historian and teacher. It is a recognition of those who have served in honor of those who have sacrificed. This is obviously a provocative book by a great representative of the free veteran the world over, especially the American.