The Reluctant Soldier

Non-Fiction - Military
241 Pages
Reviewed on 08/06/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

When I was a boy, World War II and the Korean war seemed closer. They were something that had just happened and it wasn't that difficult to find someone who had served in them, though getting them to talk about it was sometimes a bit more difficult to do. Now those conflicts seem very much a part of the past. The closest you can get to them is in the movies and they seem no more real than dinosaurs or aliens. If you want a closer look at the life and thoughts of an American soldier during the Korean war, read The Reluctant Soldier by Marnie Mellblom. This is about as personal as it gets. The Reluctant Soldier captures the feeling of that time much better than a movie does. It seems we are inside the characters’ heads and this can be priceless.

I liked The Reluctant Soldier on so many different levels. The characters are interesting. The plot is straightforward and it’s easy to follow the story line. Most of the places mentioned, like Japan, Korea, and Pennsylvania, are places I have lived in or visited, and to my delight Marnie Mellblom got them right. More than anything else, the writing is good in The Reluctant Soldier. The descriptions of army life are dead on. It would seem that some things never change. Most of The Reluctant Soldier is told through the device of letters from Neal to his girlfriend and that seems an appropriate way to tell a soldier’s story. It certainly worked for me.