#BookReview: Amazing Gracie by Laura Drake

Beautiful, Emotional Tale Of Survival. This is a road trip tale, and thus you go in expecting both some bumps and some growth, but *how* Drake manages to execute on both is quite remarkable. Drawing on the entire American soldier experience from the Forgotten War in Korea to the modern War on Terror in Afghanistan – America’s longest war – and also incorporating the realities of being poor in America, this is one of those fiction tales that may in fact hit a little too close to home for many – but read it anyway. The one group of people that I may say stay away from this book, perhaps, is those who struggle with cutting, as it is in fact a significant part of this story and is shown extensively enough to be uncomfortable – and yet still all too real – for anyone. Beyond that though, the grit, realism, and ultimately hope shown here are quite cathartic even to those who have never been in these exact scenarios, and there are several points late in the book where you’ll swear whatever environment you’re in while reading them has become quite dusty indeed. Truly an excellent tale, well told, and with particular care to all of the subjects it brings forth. Very much recommended.

This review of Amazing Gracie by Laura Drake was originally written on April 21, 2023.

#BookReview: Divided By Terror by John Bodnar

Blatantly Biased, But Well Written Within That Bias. I gotta admit: When I picked up this ARC, I was hoping for something as transcendental as 2020’s Divided We Fall by David French, but focusing on the issue of terror and how it has divided America in the post 9/11 world. I’m someone that has been on “both” sides of that divide, growing from a conservative Evangelical Christian Republican 18yo college student born and raised between the two endpoints of the American Civil War’s Great Train Robbery to a now 38 year old anarchist professional living even further South. So this book, based on its title and description, looked promising.

Its actual text though… didn’t fulfill that promise. Not for me.

To be clear, this is a very well documented examination of much of the response to 9/11 and the War on Terror, from many divergent angles ranging from the personal and private to the governmental to the societal to the cultural. Bodnar does a tremendous job of highlighting facts that even as someone living through this history (though usually from several States away from the events he is describing at any given moment), I simply did not know and often had never heard of.

The problem is that this examination is very blatantly one sided, and even the language Bodnar chooses to use often reflects this blatant bias. Thus, for those that agree with this particular bias, this book will probably be much more well received than for those who disagree with it – and the level of one’s beliefs either direction will likely reflect how such a person feels about this book in a similar manner.

In the end, there is nothing technically wrong with this text, other than the blatant bias – and therefore the bias itself is the basis for the removal of one star. Yet even there, the bias isn’t *so* horrible as to rate the deduction of a second star, and there is a tremendous amount of needed history documented within these pages. Thus, I am satisfied at this time with the four stars I give the book. And yet, because of the bias, I cannot *highly* recommend the book and therefore it is…


This review of Divided By Terror by John Bodnar was originally written on February 9, 2021.