From Publishers Weekly
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Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Never maudlin, and not out to make any political statements or judgments about the Iraq war, Mr. Sheeler manages to convey the toll on the families, friends and brothers-in-arms . Final Salute will strike a deeply personal note with anyone who has had experience with a family member in service. Final Salute is a must-read accounting of that cost but most importantly a tribute to those who must bear it.
The Wall Street Journal
Powerful . This gripping book shares the pain, pride, joy and sorrows of the families whose lives Beck has touched. It captures, too, the soul and spirit of the brave service members lost but never to be forgotten No matter what your personal thoughts on the war in Iraq, you're unlikely to get through this book dry-eyed or unmoved by the story of Beck's profound dedication and the stature of those willing to risk it all in defense of freedom.
Rocky Mountain News
Magnificent . Final Salute is a heartbreaking account of the human cost of these wars on the home front, but also inspiring in its depiction of compassion, heroism, caring, loyalty and love. This unforgettable book's pages are certain to be stained with tears because of its understated recounting of the human dramas behind the distant war story. Final Salute is not an overtly political book -- debates about the rightness of the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts do not appear. But make no mistake: This book should be required reading for any politician who plays a role in sending young Americans off to war, lest their lives be wasted through futile pursuits or devious motives . Sheeler's Final Salute resounds with many such precious moments of life after death. It grips the heart and will not let go, forges new appreciation for what is being lost. It is the print equivalent of a bugler playing the mournful notes of Taps.
It is, at once, among the bestand the worstbooks you will ever read . Fiercely poignant . Riveting and raw. It is an achingly beautiful book that you will at once not want to finish but be unable to put down . Final Salute should be required reading for all Americans.
[A] poignant and powerful chronicle of courage, sacrifice, grief, and recovery gradual, halting, and never complete . The stories, however tragic, are important for Americans to hear if only to understand how much a few are sacrificing .No matter how tough you are, you will be moved. And, you should be. There are lots of heroes in this important book. Only some of them ever wore a uniform.
"Deeply moving... I would have very much liked in this review to have been able to recount the stories of each soldier because they are so compelling. However, space limitations aside, it is not necessary for me to do so, since Sheeler himself has done such a masterful job in doing justice to these heroes."
A meticulously researched, and therefore fascinating, examination of the history of the notification processes involved in military culture. It is an illuminating story of the evolution of the military, its effort to heal emotional wounds and to ameliorate the communal devastation wrought by warfare. Final Salute does more than honor those killed and the families left behind. It does more than speak of rituals, history and grief. It also tells of the many ways that a nation, when confronted with the almost unacceptable deaths of loved ones in uniform, finds ways to give healing and meaning to the loss.
Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Sheeler (Obit: Inspirational Stories of People Who Led Extraordinary Lives) pays eloquent tribute to the soldiers who have died in Iraq and their devastated families. The author spent two years shadowing Maj. Steve Beck, a marine in charge of casualty notification, as he delivered the news of battlefield death to families. Sheeler puts readers in Becks shoes as he walks up to houses, delivers the knock on the door so dreaded by military families and tries to comfort distraught spouses and parents. Sheeler provides intimate sketches of the fallen soldierslike Marine Staff Sgt. Sam Holder, who died while drawing enemy fire away from an injured comradeand follows up as grieving families try to put their lives back together. The children left behind are often the most tragic figures: the young son of army PFC Jesse Givens asks if he can be a little boy again when he goes to heaven so that he can play with his dad. Dedicated to everyone who opened the door, Sheelers book is a devastating account of the sacrifices military families make and should be required reading for all Americans.
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
A Pulitzer-winning journalist looks at the impact of war deaths on the home front . Sobering, touching stories told with deep respect.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
In Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jim Sheeler pays tribute to the soldiers who died in the Iraqi War by bringing them back to life through the eyes, ears, heartache and hope of the loved ones they left behind Because of achingly touching images and the other remarkably resilient people we meet, Final Salute is not really about war, but about love and strength and grit and how, regardless of politics, we honor our troops to the end.
"Jim Sheeler's Final Salute is an act of national service. Like no other book I've seen, it captures the human costs of going to war. Combat's pride and pain are here, along with the tragic truth that some give all, while most give none. This is a beautiful book that deserves, demands, to be read."
Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
Final Salute is an extraordinary book, an exploration of a national loss that we badly need. Jim Sheeler writes with such direct honesty about an absolutely heart-rending subject that you will very likely read much of it, as I did, with tears in your eyes. And yet you will want to read every page, gathering along the way an intensely deepened appreciation and love for Americas communities, its citizens, and its servicemen and women.
Nick Arvin, author of Articles of War
Final Salute is a searing and unforgettable piece of work from one of the most supernaturally gifted reporters of our time. Jim Sheeler has the heart and the talent to chronicle the real cost of war. With his quiet persistence and endless empathy, he guides the reader inside hushed and sacred moments that most of us can scarcely imagine.
Thomas French, author of Unanswered Cries and South of Heaven, and winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing
Jim Sheelers Final Salute should be required reading for all Americans and their elected leaders. It is not pro or anti war, but instead a gripping account of combats price on the families of the fallen. Final Salute is also the inspirational and often heartbreaking story of the incredible, heroic efforts of a Marine officer to help ease the pain of these families. Jim Sheeler should be saluted for providing a heartfelt view inside the returns home from Iraq that too often pass unrecognized by the American public.
Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director and Founder, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, author of Chasing Ghosts
With his words, Jim Sheeler has taken what has been a very personal journey for all the families of the fallen and opened the eyes of the world to the tears and sacrifice we have made and the respect and honor paid to our sons. He has been given a magnificent gift of writing from the heart...I could not have been more proud of him if he were my own son.
Terry Cooper, mother of Marine Lance Corporal Thomas Slocum, the first Coloradan killed in Iraq --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.