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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Henry Wakefield's War by Richard J Reese is a historical fiction novel set during the Russian Civil War and following an American “doughboy” soldier named Henry Wakefield, sent to fight with the Whites on behalf of the United States to secure political and military interests back home. The novel bounces between points of view of characters with a mostly omniscient vantage point, from Henry and the Russian aristocrat turned camp nurse Anya Krylov, to then President of the United States Woodrow Wilson and Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, and several ancillary characters. Henry and Anya are both forced from their homes, Henry to war and Anya when her family home is burned to the ground. Through a series of tragedies and small blessings, Henry and Anya meet, and after some time meet again, defying the odds stacked against them to find love while hatred burns all around them.
Out of all the characters that Richard J Reese creates in Henry Wakefield's War, I found Anya and her backstory to be the most intriguing. In her early twenties at that time and as the daughter of a count, the change of social order means the end of everything she has ever known. Henry from Iowa isn't really even on an equal footing with a veterinarian Anya fancies first. Love in war is not an uncommon theme but the American man-Russian aristocrat angle is different and interesting. From a purely literary standpoint, the writing style is told in a straightforward fashion, which might not appeal to readers who appreciate more emotional fervor. However, true history aficionados who enjoy fiction that is firmly grounded in authentic detail will delight in what author Reese offers up in this novel. Recommended.