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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Ways of War is an historical fiction thriller novel written by Tracy Gregory. Anna couldn’t believe this angelic-looking infant with those so-blue eyes was hers and Grant’s. Everything seemed so perfect, something she had never dreamed would be hers after her own family had been torn apart, first by her father’s drunken rages and then her mother’s alcoholism and depression. Anna and her little brother, Robert, had survived, somehow, and even thrived despite the disadvantages they had experienced. Robert was just finishing his residency at Memorial Hospital, and Anna and Grant had decided it was now time for them to start their own family. But even as they both gazed awestruck at their tiny infant, Grant had troubling news for Anna. The US Marine had gotten word that he would be given a new assignment, and this time Anna couldn’t come along. Anna instantly feared the worst -- that Grant was being sent to Vietnam, but Grant assured her that everything would be fine, and he promised that he would be coming back to her and baby Jessica.
Tracy Gregory’s historical fiction thriller, Ways of War, doesn’t have scenes of battles in dense jungle against unknown foes. What it does show is the effect that the Vietnam War had on those left at home, by initially focusing on the life of a young mother whose husband is sent into action almost immediately after their first child is born. Gregory’s plot is filled with moments of tension, anxiety and the rage of Americans whose anger and disbelief at the involvement of their country in a far-off war -- for no real purpose that they can divine -- is tinged with fear as they watch their loved ones being called up and wonder who will be next. Anna is a marvelous main character whose strength maintains not only her and her children, but also her in-laws and everyone around her. I began to worry about her as her life and that of her brother were threatened by the secret experimentation being carried out on the campus where she worked, and at that point I realized that I had gotten quite wrapped up in this story.
Ways of War is not your usual Vietnam historical fiction novel. There are neither heroes nor villains among the American populace, just people trying to understand this thing that was so much bigger than any of them, and any villainy is undertaken by the spooky cabal of government and industrial cohorts. No one is seen spitting at the returning soldiers or jeering at them and calling them names. All Americans are seen as intimately and directly impacted by the conflict through themselves, their family members or those they loved. This moving and accurate historical fiction thriller is most highly recommended.