Saturday, March 15, 2003

The Unionist: Book Review

Reviewed by Mark H. Kelly
This article first appeared in the Morgan County Citizen, October 31, 2002

Every historical event has an inside angle or issue that isn’t recognized for its impact on individuals or communities. When the subject of the American Civil War is introduced into discussion, most people focus on the major battles and historical figures.

Perry, Georgia attorney W. Steven Harrell has reached into our nation’s and state’s past with the non-fiction work The Unionist, implementing pain-staking research to resurrect the life and Civil War adventures of Lt. David R. Snelling.

The literary angle readers will immediately be captured by the Milledgeville native’s decision to break against the tide of Southern History and emotions, joining the First Alabama Union Cavalry Regiment.

More than a retelling of battles and actions of historical figures, The Unionist provides readers with an accurate description of plantation life in Milledgeville in the days leading up to the conflict, along with the backroom legislative activities of fire-eaters Robert Toombs, Alexander Stephens and many others.

However, where the book excels is on the home and battles fronts. Snelling’s decisions (as one can imagine) cost him dearly on personal and professional levels, profoundly presenting issues of the era to light.

Once the war begins for Lt. Snelling, Harrell’s skills as a writer jump into the saddle at full gallop with depiction of troop movements and battle capturing readers’ attention. Indeed, smoke often wafts from the pages and bullets zing through the air as soldiers from both sides fall and move from tree to boulder to streambed in search of cover.

There are equally compelling stories of soldier camaraderie, interaction with citizens and the forming of bonds lasting Snelling’s lifetime. Snelling’s adventure takes him to Stones River, Abel Streight’s Raid, Dallas, Monroe’s Cross Roads and Atlanta to Durham Station during Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Civil War and history buffs will find the work engaging and can proudly place it in their collection.

Saturday, March 1, 2003

Review of "Treason & Triumph"

Reviewed by Rita Gerlach

At the onset of a war that would leave Europe devastated and the Jewish people raked by the Holocaust of Hate, two women from vastly different worlds, become embroiled in Churchill's plan to thwart the Nazis' plan to produce the first atomic bomb. Trapped in a switch of identity, both women must rely on the traitor to save them.

Treason and Triumph
opens with the Spanish Civil War and takes the reader into the nerve center of the Third Reich. It is the late 1930's. Hitler's agenda spreads through Germany like a vile poison. His war machine rages through Europe, bringing insurmountable suffering and destruction, especially to the Jewish people. American journalist, Marla Franklin is sent to cover the war for the London Times. Lady Catherine Rushmore, cousin to Britain's king, is a talented concert pianist forging her way into the heart of England's cultural elite as a talented concert pianist, when she is given an assignment to serve her king and country.

Marla and Catherine are identical in appearance and are recruited into Churchill's Project Amanita. The mission is to penetrate into the heart of the Nazi leadership and carry out a plan of espionage. With patriotic fervor, and unswerving bravery, the two women vow to sacrifice their very lives in order to fulfill their mission along with the Amanita Team.

In the beginning of the story, it is not known that one person on that team is a traitor and spy, a Nazi desirous to see the Nazis win the war and rule the world. As events unfold, suspicions rise. The story continues on a tense pace to discover who the traitor is.

TREASONS & TRIUMPH is a suspenseful World War II thriller. From start start to finish Treason & Triumph is fast paced. Bonnie Toews' novel is not just an entertaining thriller. It is novel that transports the reader into the horrors of World War II. It is vivid in imagery and not for the light hearted reader. Her novel demonstrates a writing skill that all writers should strive for: the ability to tell a story that is real to the reader, and give the reader a greater sense of the duty of mankind. Treason & Triumph shows good and evil, the moral and the immoral. The reader will discover that with there is no greater love than for a man, or woman, to lay his or her life down for a friend. Marla and Catherine are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to save the lives of millions. Treason & Triumph is a compelling story of sacrifice in a time when morals and honor were something of value, challenged by the immorality of Nazi brutality. I highly recommend this book, especially to readers who enjoying stories of WWII. Bonnie Toews knows how to draw a reader in and keep you turning the pages.

Reviewer's bio: Rita Gerlach is the author The Rebel's Pledge, a romantic historical novel of Colonial times. She writes with an inspirational mindset. She has written several articles for The Christian Communicator Magazine, and is preparing to publish a historical series set prior to the American Revolution.