Saturday, March 05, 2011

No Ordinary Joes by Larry Colton

No Ordinary Joes: The Extraordinary True Story of Four Submariners in War and Love and LifeNo Ordinary Joes: The Extraordinary True Story of Four Submariners in War and Love and Life by Larry Colton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This highly-interesting non-fiction book is an enlightening look into the individual battles fought during World War II. The story was presented in a bow-tie formation. The author introduced each of the sailors individually, giving his entire background story - childhood, interests, family relationships, early adolescent experiences, and first assignments in the navy. This introduction took about 13 chapters. After the characters were well-developed, the story narrowed to the events that brought the sailors together.

The narrow knot of the bowtie showed us how the men knew each other as crew members of the same submarine. Of course this is the part of the story that caused the story to be written. The experiences these young men (ages 17-23 at the time) endured as prisoners of war, were horrifying. I hung on every word as the author showed their physical and emotional degradation and their incredible strength as they lent support and comfort to each other.

After the central events of the war were told, the author widened the story again in the other side of the bowtie. He followed each man's life after they were freed when the war ended. This enlightening follow-up story showed the reader some of the long-term positive as well as negative results of such harrowing experiences as these men suffered in early adulthood. It was interesting to me to see the changes in the individual personalities as the men aged; however, it was also clearly shown that many of their early characteristics were intensified rather than changed by the experience. The men were shown as 80-year-old grandfathers at the end of the book.

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