Sometimes, a book comes along that shatters all your expectations and breaks every mold and routine that you use to approach the act of reviewing.
Most of the time when one reviews books, there is a requirement of a certain pedigree; being well read and educated to a certain level, or an ability to discern art in the midst of routine and rhetoric. Often, the reviewing of books is a tedious matter with little reward for the effort. Most of the time it is the practice of reviewers to keep the purely personal out of their reviews. It is in fact the hallmark of an objective review. Sometimes, a book comes along that shatters all your expectations and breaks every mold and routine that you use to approach the act of reviewing.
Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved" is such a book.
When I first picked up this book I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew generally that it was about a volunteer organization that helped out soldiers in the field. As a political writer, who was disgusted at the attempt of the Democrat party to pull funding from the troops, I looked forward to it. I had no idea how quickly it would strip away all hint of ideology and preconception.
By the time I was ten pages into this book I had forgotten all about political squabbles. By the time I was thirteen pages into this book, I was crying like a baby. Without a doubt, this book makes one thing crystal clear. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, whether you oppose the war or support it, the soldiers who fight in foreign lands on our behalf do believe in their mission. If we do not support them and if we do not go the extra mile to help them to complete their mission, then we are not Americans at all.
It's true that most of the soldiers in Iraq believe in the cause that they fight for, but that's not the mission I speak of. I speak of each and every soldier's drive to do their part and return home safely. I speak of the mission of each member of the military to keep their family back home safe and provided for. In this, I speak of the personal mission of each soldier. This is something that Patti Patton Bader has hit upon, and it's not surprising that her epiphany and everything that followed became a national movement.
As one reads Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved," the deep emotion caused by the speed of a single idea, that spreads into a power to move mountains, is overwhelming. It is difficult to believe that such just happen. Certainly, the snowball effect as one mother's courage and commitment spread to those around her and mushroom into a national campaign to help soldiers in the field, must be the result of divine intervention.
In many ways, Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved" is more than just the story of one woman's fight to help her son in a foreign land. It's more than a chronicle of how sending a few boxes of cookies metamorphed into airlifts of goods on the grand scale. It is a demonstration, once again, that the actions of one person can have a dramatic effect in the world we live in.
Many of the pages of Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved" are devoted to letters back home from the soldiers who are receiving the largess of their adopted "angels." Of course, the heartfelt thanks is moving, but no less so than the desire to tell the anonymous donors about the things that they are doing and explain how their selfless gifts helped to make life in an unbearable place, more bearable.
There are letters of commendation from officers in all branches of the service, but none of the letters reproduced in Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved" are as moving and as heartfelt as the letters of those relatives of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
A book of this kind defies a traditional review, and cries out for something more. In the process of requesting a review copy of Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved," I received a copy of an email from Patti to Jeff Bader by accident. She had seen my request and wrote a quick not to Jeff to tell him that she thought my request was "important."
How unimportant I am cannot be more evident. I can write this review, and I can do everything I know how to do to publicize Soldiers' Angels, and get the word out about the good work that they are doing, but it can never be anything but laughably insignificant when compared to the mountains moved by one woman with faith and a will.
I'm not important, Patti. This review is not important. What you are doing and what Soldiers' Angels is doing.
These things are the very definition of important.
Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved" is something else too, it's a paean of love and admiration from a husband to his wife-a validation of an effort well undertaken and a life well lived. I cannot recommend enough that you buy and read Soldiers' Angels-"May No Soldier Go Unloved," nor can I encourage you to become involved with the organization with more enthusiasm.
Adopt a soldier. Spend your money. Spend your time. Do anything that you can to help. If ever there was an organization worthy of American generosity, this is that organization.
by Thomas Anthony Longo
contributing editor, World Voice News