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Public Information: Coming of age during the Korean War [Kindle Edition]

Rolf Margenau
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.95
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

Now a Kindle best seller!

Twenty-year-old Wylie Cypher accidentally finds himself in the raging conflict of the Korean War in 1953. As he sits in a latrine considering his misfortune, a bomb explodes nearby. His only thought is, should he survive this moment, how will he make it through a sixteen-month tour of duty alive?

Fortunately, he manages to avoid immediate front line duty by joining the Public Information Office of an Army Infantry Division near the Demilitarized Zone as the "forgotten war" enters its last months. The author, himself an NCO in charge if an Infantry Public Information Office during the time of the story, blends fact and fiction in an engaging and exciting way.

Wylie comes of age under extreme circumstances. He experiences combat, deals with indelible characters, reports on actual events, falls in love and becomes a point of entry for the author's take on "the Army way." Scenes of combat based on actual events enhance the narrative. The treatment of POWs on both sides of the conflict is described. However, those grimmer moments are enlivened by creative incidents of military humor and outrageous behavior by all ranks. For example, Shit Dad Rowe bends every regulation to no serious consequence while a ranking officer rationalizes the propriety of sponsoring a very high-class whorehouse.

As might be imagined, irony is used to strong effect in outlining the interactions among service members and in relations with the "indigenous" population. Incidents occur in both Korea and Japan, where Wylie joins the staff of the Pacific Stars and Stripes.

Although this is a coming of age story with universal motifs, it resonates with veterans of the era. They praise it not only for its humor, but also for its accurate evocation of a special time and place. One reader said, if asked "What was it like in Korea around the time of the Armistice and soon afterwards?" I will quietly tell them, 'Read Public Information.' It's all right there!"

Editorial Reviews


Ford Fifty Six 
Public Information is a whole new perspective on the military, war, love, journalism, identity, nationality, and youth. Enjoy.

Public Information
Rolf Margenau

The Korean War is often forgotten in the overlay of conflict in the twentieth century. "Public Information" is a novel from Rolf Margenau writing of Wylie Cypher, a man whose entry into the military in 1952 finds him ending up in the Korean conflict. As he travels the region, he learns much about the world, the army's brotherhood, and life. "Public Information" is a fine read well worth considering for historical fiction collections.

John Burroughs
Reviewer - Midwest Book Review

About the Author

The author of Public Information has had a varied career. He has been a scrub nurse in an operating room, a professional photographer, a soldier during the Korean War, a correspondent for the Pacific Stars and Stripes, an attorney specializing in international corporate law, a volunteer executive running a not-for-profit dedicated to housing the homeless, a manager of large and small businesses and, an author and Master Gardener.    
He first published short stories as an English Major from Yale. As Garrison Keillor has noted, it is very difficult to stop being an English Major.  So, when the author discovered that his wife kept all the 300 plus letters he wrote her from Korea, he decided to use that material as the basis for a novel about the Korean War.  It was a story he had wanted to tell for many years.  He felt he was now experienced enough to tell it well.
Public Information is based on his experiences as NCO in charge of a combat Infantry Division Public Information (hence the title) Office in Korea.  It tells the story of Wylie Cypher, a hapless young soldier who arrives in Korea in the midst of bloody combat.  Wylie manages to survive his sixteen-month tour of duty as Margenau recounts in gory, ribald, poignant and accurate detail.  His adventures are recounted in military jargon and his sometimes abrasive involvement with the "Army way" describes the good, bad and incredible of life in the military.  Along the way, Wylie manages to find and lose love.
Pistils and Poetry is the author's second book.  It is a compilation of Margenau's favorite Elizabethan poems (Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and numerous others) juxtaposed with the author's photographs of flowers.  It is a rich and engaging poetry book, enhanced and complimented by luscious photos of flowers.  The book is considered as an elegant way to tease reluctant poetry readers into an appreciation of the beautiful sentiments and language of long ago masters of the English language.

Product Details

  • File Size: 578 KB
  • Print Length: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Frogworks Publishing; First edition (June 24, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00584MT02
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,255 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rolf Tells It Like It Was January 20, 2012
I've just finished reading "Public Information" by Rolf Margenau, and couldn't put it down until Wylie Cypher returned to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and saw the morning light over San Francisco, and I through the Straits of Juan de Fuca to see the evening lights of Seattle.

I served in Korea at the same time as Wylie Cypher in the PIO of another US Army group which was there then and is still there today. As a correspondent, I had many of the same experiences as he. The anger and tears, the despairs and frustration, yes, but also the chuckles and the laughs, the oddities and foibles, and, above all, the deeply felt human experiences through it all which in large measure shaped me into who I am today.

This may be a novel, as Rolf says, but the characters Wylie met and the incidents he experienced were all so very true that anyone who was there at the same time will quickly recognize them in every detail as if they were back there again right now.

This book is a very great tribute and honor to all those who served in Korea. If anyone ever asks me, "What was it like in Korea around the time of the Armistice and soon afterwards?" I will quietly tell them, "Read "Public Information." It's all there.

Thank you Rolf, you've really told it as it was. A great read and reminder, for sure!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Perspective March 10, 2012
Through young Wylie Cypher, author Rolf Margenau takes in his readers with his unique descriptions, impressive (often witty) language use, believable characters, and perceptive storytelling. The array of characters is impressive from the strong, curious, sometimes vulnerable, Wylie, to the gritty, yet secretly sweet, entrepreneurial Auntie Soo. The reader is rewarded in the end for keeping track of all the characters and their relationships to each other. Sh#* Dad, for example, is a favorite for many reasons, but mostly because he proves to be, as Margenau describes him, "pleasantly incorrigible". Public Information is a whole new perspective on the military, war, love, journalism, identity, nationality, and youth. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary Public Information September 15, 2011
By cb
Format:Kindle Edition
The Korean War has often been referred to as "the forgotten war" in U.S. history, but in this compelling coming of age novel, and essentially through his hero, Wylie Cypher, Rolf Margenau effectively brings the War front and center to readers of this engaging book. Briefly, Wylie Cypher (have some fun decoding the name of Margenau's hero) leaves college, joins the Army with expectations of training in the Russian language, but rather learns about war and its after-effects--and, to some extent, life in general--as a correspondent for an Army Public Information Office near the 38th parallel, and as a reporter for Stars and Stripes in Tokyo. Along the way we also experience Wylie's adventures, humorous misadventures, responses, shifting perspectives, the requisite love affair, and overall his growing maturity.

This may be the first novel published by Rolf Margenau, but it certainly has the hallmarks of an experienced professional writer. Margenau's writing is accessible, his eye for descriptive detail persuasive, and he is able to create a strong sense of place--from the rather bizarre opening scene of the hero on the latrine, to the everyday often banal activities of soldiers in war, to the moving actual scenes of war and death, and finally to the closing, optimistic scene where "our" hero returns to the United States on ship, and sees the city of San Francisco "awakened with early light, its spires illumined by slanting rays."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rare find in the deluge of ebooks February 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have never written a review before, but I just had to log in and say that I am extremely pleased with this book. It's well-written, smooth, has a great story line, and good characters. It seems that most every book in the "deals" section is a horrible romance novel or something about vampires/zombies, so I am thrilled to find one that is NOT! I actually wanted to read Public Information, and I will recommend it to others - starting with you!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly good read February 7, 2013
By JimD
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Rolf Margenau is not a polished professional writer - not yet - but not far from it. This book surprised me by his ability to capture the spirit of the time he portrays and his ability to provide a few good laughs along the way. I had never heard of him, but will watch for another book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Public Information, what a business August 5, 2014
By JEBoone
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A different take on the Korean War. Having read many stories on the Korean War, this book tells the subject from another angle. The main character had many things fall into place for him that seem to stretch the laws of probability a little, but it could have happened. The issues he deals with are interesting, and are well told, and possibly based on some factual happenings.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read that flowed at a good pace, and the characters are filled out and quite believable in their context. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good story and a different view on this war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Ground in a Forgotten War December 10, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Public Information captures the tragic and bizarre aspects of the Korean War as told by a soon-to-grow-up American airman. The author blends tales of fierce combat, colorful characters, comic situations--and don't forget about sex-into an engaging read. He does a wonderful job of capturing the heroism, contradictions, and banality of the military life. If you like Catch 22 give this one a try.
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