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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite
On page 3 of From the Heartland: Semper Fi by J.W. Sloter, right under the dedication to all the men and women who have served in all branches of the armed services, there is this quote: “When is a ‘memoir’ not a ‘novel’? When lightly seasoned with a dash of spice to enhance the natural flavor.” There should be a word for a book that encapsulates the essence of the best of both terms. As I read From the Heartland, I must say it felt like a memoir, but on the other hand, I have never read a better first-person account of American life. It did not feel “enhanced”. It felt naturally delicious; the way dishes made from organically grown ingredients do. I felt honored to be invited to partake. I could feel the dedication, love, and experience of the chef in every spoonful. This is what good writing, really good writing, is all about.
I wanted to write about the plot of From the Heartland but, in truth, I could not detect the writer doing crafty things to heighten suspense or make me believe in true love or God or anything else. Walt served in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 with the 5th Regiment of the Marine Corps First Division and this is his story. For me it read like a real life, a real American life, laid out without pretension or an agenda. It was there to simply show me what it felt like. It was also laid out so perfectly. J. W. Sloter’s American life is very different from my American life. Different times, different region, different economic status, different wars. But I felt connected to him. His story is important to me. This book and this life are great. You really need to read it. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. I don’t have the words.