- File Size: 4790 KB
- Print Length: 349 pages
- Publication Date: August 28, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07GY3N4VF
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,807 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Forgotten Valor: A Novel of the Korean War (The Jonas Stuyvesant Saga Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Forgotten Valor is no romance novel, and the author is, thankfully, no romance novelist. The book’s weakest moment comes early, when a US nurse is instantaneously and inexplicably swept off her feet by Lt. Stuyvesant: “Yes, she read gentleness in his face, but also strength. At once she began to feel safe.” And Stuyvesant’s wife is a caricature of clueless privilege who seems hand-crafted to justify her husband’s inevitable infidelity. Fear not, though: the author quickly returns to the war and warriors that are his forte.
Those warrior characters are a mixed bunch: some convincingly and sharply drawn, while others are less satisfying. A sometimes brutal Chinese major is Stuyvesant’s antithesis, and arguably the novel's most compelling character. A much-decorated US corporal, bored stiff in the peacetime army, is almost as vivid. Stuyvesant himself feels less well-developed, at least early in the story, perhaps because the author felt less connected to this favorite son of the ruling class. A dashing officer may have been necessary for the genre, but I suspect the author’s deeper sympathies lie with his grunts and medics.
Forgotten Valor’s subtitle promises a “Stuyvesant saga”, with more books to come, and the author’s development of his protagonist from callow youth to battle-hardened officer reminded me just a bit of C. S. Forester’s beloved Horatio Hornblower series. Matching Forester’s classic would be rather a tall order, obviously, but I look forward to reading the next installment, and seeing how the author and his creation continue to evolve.
The characters on the book are fictional, but based on real soldiers. Lt. Jonas Stuyvesant is he youngest of a military family (with high connections in Washington) - his brother (Major) and his father (WWII combat vet) preceded him, and his request to a General that he be put in the field in charge of a platoon. Despite his mother’s concern, Lt. Jonas gets his wish and is placed in the field in South Korea, just as the invasion by N. Korea began.
Not much has been written about US involvement in the Korean War (I read recently that this war was never declared ended). In so doing he tells a story (fictional) of forgotten valor as exemplified by Lt. Jonas and his squad.
The author vividly exposes the condiments of war, among them - deaths and gore; tactics and strategies; pain and suffering. injuries; misjudgements; going against all odds, and retreating in defeat. But the story also tells of leadership and loyalty; of Jonas gaining the confidence of his men and in himself. Jonas always had two major objectives; to successfully complete his missions; and to ensure the safety of his men. He was always in the pits with them leading by action which became examples. In the end, “Lieu” succeeded in large measure doing both.
A strong aspect of this book is the vivid descriptions of events and experiences. Here I was on a horse at a fast gallop with the trees and pastures passing quickly by; in recognizing them I also recognized for an instant that I and the horse were really flying. I had this experience several times reading as I had to pause and think: I am really glued to this story and its excellent telling.
This is the first of a series of Jonas Stuyvesant books, and its quality augurs well for the sequels. Jonas comes a far way from his University ROTC experiences with his experiences of war; his skills of comradeship; his quick thinking and boldness; and in his presence- being there with his men. He learns a lot from his more experienced Sergeant on relations that started with high tension and ended in admiration and friendship, and he was bold enough to pay his Sergeant the ultimate favor. I am sure that he has yet much to learn but I would hazard that he has learned enough to successfully adorn the next in the sequel.
I grew to like Sergeant Strosahl, the tobacco-chewing hardback Sergeant who at first was antagonistic, but eventually became Jonas’ friend and strength. I was immediately struck by his first observations on Jonas - that he showed concern for his men, and I felt that this augured well for a more successful interaction. I cannot forget the enemy, the North Korean led by a Chinese officer Captain Chen. I like that his anomalous position leading North Korean troops was partly explained in the end. Chen was an appropriate antagonist to Jonas, the one young and adventurous, the other thinking and planning, and experienced.
This is a wonderful read, suspenseful, almost cinematic, and entirely engrossing
As someone who enjoys historical novels, I quite enjoyed that this book focuses on a period that is not very discussed (to my knowledge) in novels. The author does a fine job bringing the reality and hardships of the war to life, making the readers experience what the characters are going through: the sounds, the smells, the feelings. It’s very well-written, especially considering this is the author’s first book. It laid the perfect foundation for a strong series that I’ll surely read it. Where I think the author has room for improvement is in the characters’ interactions and descriptions: in most of them I wasn’t quite as invested or interested in their fate as I should be, considering the terrible situation they are in. Some of them are a bit flat and one layered. If the author can improve that for the future, 5 stars will be a low mark for his books.