Veterans' Reflections: History Preserved
by William R. Graser

"The assistant gunner and I stayed awake all night, waiting and watching and thinking, what if? Fortunately, no contact was made. I realized then that the DMZ was a very dangerous place."

Anyone can tell the facts behind a story, but those who have lived it can share insights no secondhand history can match. With this in mind, the author has taken the firsthand accounts and personal stories of sixty veterans and incorporated them into a cohesive collection of memories that covers half a dozen wars or periods of conflict. From the horrors of World War II to the end of the Cold War, Graser offers an illuminating chronicle of what a soldier’s life is really like.

Graser spent almost eight years conducting interviews and gathering information. His method, which weaves the veterans’ own stories into an historical overview of a specific conflict, is extremely effective. For example, when describing the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, he begins with a synopsis before letting two soldiers who fought in the battle speak for themselves. The soldiers’ accounts go well beyond the war’s scorecard and reveal some of the actual fears and experiences of the participants.

As a veteran himself, the author is obviously very close to this work, and it shows not only in his passion for his subject, but also in his attention to detail. Five appendices supplement his narrative and include images of the ribbons and medals the veterans included in the book had earned (which he personally ordered for them and had presented to them in a special ceremony in 2007), a helpful list of acronyms and abbreviations, etc. The result of his efforts is a book that is a useful addition to the history of war.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home