Beautifully written, extraordinarily powerful, a rare gem of a read!
Married with two children, Michael Patrick Fitzmaurice, Major, Infantry, US Army Reserve, is going to war. Bound for Ramstein, Germany, he and his troops, who never expected to be on the frontline, must now stand in battle alongside their active-duty counterparts. It's the mid-1980s and the United States is under the leadership of a new president who continues its post-Vietnam withdrawal from the world stage. Domestic affairs are the administration's priority, while international affairs are given short shrift. In Western Europe, this disengagement of the United States causes turmoil and indecision. The Soviet General Staff observes these conditions and sees an opportunity in the West's disarray. They believe one strong, overwhelming offense, launched violently and without warning, would overcome NATO's defenses before the alliance could react. Once the Soviet forces seized their objectives in West Germany and the Netherlands, NATO would be forced to sue for peace on Soviet terms. Even if the United States could react to the offensive, its support would never reach the battlefield in time to affect the outcome. And, once the Soviet forces held their ground, the demoralized people of Western Europe would never rally for a counter attack. To meet this threat and support its allies, the United States mobilizes large numbers of reservists and National Guard troops—women and men like Mike who fight to defeat the Soviet onslaught and repel the invaders.
There are many good military fiction novels that capture the common elements of war but novels like The Weekend Warriors bring something unique to the reading experience and James W Burke JR. has written a genuine corker of a story. It’s not a long read and yet much of its appeal lies in the detail Burke JR. imparts whilst creating a sense of immediacy that’s quite disconcerting. His story may be set in the 1980’s but as a predictor of what the near future might look like and how the US and NATO need to prepare themselves for a potential Russian conflict, it really hits home. More importantly, he creates a powerful sense of authenticity by exploring combat from ground level. With a superb lead character in Michael Patrick Fitzmaurice, vivid scenes and superbly nuanced dialogue there are no trite heroics or stereotypical heroes. This is the story of front-line soldiers from all walks of life coming to grips with the reality of war as Burke takes the angst and uncertainty of combat and dispels any idealised sense of exhilaration. It makes for a genuine page-turner and one that’s hard to forget.
Powerful storytelling from an authentic literary voice in military fiction, The Weekend Warriors is highly recommended.
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Jim Burke served over 25 years in the Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the Army Command and General Staff College. An amateur military historian, he is a Civil War Re-enactor with Company K, Third United States Regular Infantry, and First Massachusetts Cavalry Field Hospital. Burke currently resides in Kennebunkport, ME with his family.
About James W. Burke JR.