#BookReview: Uniting America by Peter Shinkle

Strong Historical Exposition Marred By Back Half Of Epilogue. This is a book that was an absolute 5* read… until potentially the last few pages. It is well documented at 31% of the text, and even claims to have a handful of previously unreported facts – which given just how *libraries* have been filled with even solely nonfiction tomes on everything to do with WWII, would be quite a feat indeed if accurate. As with most histories of its type, it spends a few chapters both before and after the period directly in question, setting it in its context and showing its aftermath, respectively, with the bulk of the narrative focused on the core thesis. Through all of this, and even through the first half of the epilogue, this book truly is remarkable.

But then… Shinkle just *had* to put his thoughts on more recent events, particularly political events of the last few years, in the same tome, and in its last pages to boot. This is *worse* than being a “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” scenario where the tale should have ended *shortly* after the coronation of Aragorn, as in this instance it is more akin to ending Return of the King with a few pages discussing the events of Star Wars: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi and trying to tie the two together. Yes, there are some *very high level* similarities. But if you’ve just spent 300 ish pages discussing the very *minutia* of the one thing, and then you try to zoom out to an International Space Station level to get a view that *might* *maybe* support linking this other thing to that first thing… it ultimately sours the taste of the overall meal.

Still, ultimately this narrative *is* a strong and interesting one that anyone seeking to more fully understand WWII should read. Just ignore the final few pages. You’ll know them when you encounter them. Recommended.

This review of Uniting America by Peter Shinkle was originally written on October 4, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Night Of Many Endings by Melissa Payne

This week we’re looking at a tale that manages to combine elements from disaster movies, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Breakfast Club into a beautiful and poignant tale with strong yet never preachy social commentary. This week we’re looking at The Night of Many Endings by Melissa Payne.

Adult Breakfast Club During A Disaster. Ok, so I love me a good disaster movie, and The Breakfast Club (look it up, kiddos) is one of the most iconic movies Hollywood has ever produced, at least for those of us who were anywhere from young kids (and mostly learning of its amazingness a few years after it released) to young adults (who were actively living it) in that era. Here, Payne manages to hit both notes while admittedly not having quite the same tear-jerking punches of both of her prior novels. The front part of the book sets up the disaster, and actually does nearly as good a job as the Tommy Lee Jones movie Volcano in showing just how “normal” the day of the disaster is. Then the disaster strikes and our more Breakfast Club mode kicks in. Here, our cast isn’t trapped by an overbearing Principal in detention, but in a life and death struggle to stay alive and stay warm during a brutal snowstorm – but the ultimate tones and themes are very similar, up to and including various relevant tragic backstories. (Note that only the currently-relevant-backstories-at-time-of-publication part is similar between the two. The actual backstories are actually wildly divergent and yet great looks into under-told stories of each type of person.) And yet – get ready for yet another movie reference – the ending drags on a bit similar to The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King. Ok, the “coronation” has finally happened. We don’t need half the tale being what happens after! (Note, nowhere near that bad here – more like the back 20% ish of the tale.)

Still, the writing is as beautiful and poignant as ever, the overall backstories are inventive in their rarity in literature, and ultimately this *is* a really strong book that everyone should read. Very much recommended.