Reviews by readers

Letter from Gen. Albin F. Irzyk, October 30, 2017

Letter from Mrs. George S. Patton, IV,  August 14, 2017

Wilber’s War, a Great American Story (Amazon review; Five Stars), May 14, 2016

A New Take on a History Book (Amazon review; Four Stars), Nov. 17, 2015

Book brings to life…home front and …battle front… (Amazon review; Five Stars), Nov. 6, 2015

A Rich Read and Beautiful Gift (Amazon review; Five Stars), Oct. 10, 2015

A Front Row Seat to World War II Action (Amazon review; Five Stars), Sept. 22, 2015

A Must Read (Amazon review; Five Stars), Sept. 19, 2015


October 30, 2017

Letter from Gen. Albin F. Irzyk, USA (Ret.)

(Boldface by hb)

Dear Hale,

What a tremendous and totally unexpected surprise, and coincidence. I received a splendid book from a resident of my hometown who is a friend of a friend of ours, Mary Usowicz. Of all things, the book arrived at the same time that I was receiving the first copies of my new book from my publisher.

Although, I was absolutely fascinated by your book, I will have to delay reading it in detail because of conflicts. I was able to thumb through it. I was amazed by it. I have yet to see a family story such as you tell. lt is absolutely unique, unprecedented. The length and depth of your writing was astonishing. Both you and your Dad are scientists, but you have both written like novelists. The way that with your words you have weaved together your Dad’s combat story , your family story, your Mother’s story is quite remarkable. The photos which you so carefully researched and selected add much to the book. All in all, it is a book in which you can justly take great pride.

Now a bit about our books. lf we were TV “talking heads,” actors, rock stars, football or basketball stars–the celebrities in our society these days– our books would be best sellers. Realistically, the market for books like yours and mine is quite limited.

From experience I know how difficult and time consuming it is to get a book publshed. I have just had an extremely bad experience. Fortunately, I had a fall back position which turned out extremely well.

I am deeply grateful for the book you sent and for your fine letter. I am very impressed with your most successful academic career. I hope that you are enjoying residing in Salem. With warmest regards and best wishes for your great book to “catch on.”

Sincerely, Al Irzyk

August 14, 2017

Letter from Mrs. Joanne H. Patton

Mrs. Patton is the daughter-in Law of the WWII Gen George S. Patton, Jr.,  and the widow of his namesake and son, who served in Korea and Vietnam, and later became a 2-star general.

by Joanne Holbrook Patton

Dear Mr. Bradt,

I was among the privileged audience members who attended the Stage 284 Black Box Theatre performance of “Wilber’s War” few weeks ago. I had been a fan of The Community House productions this year and as a military member I thought this production would be particularly interesting. I knew nothing of its origin or its playwright (Hale Bradt) but I was ready to be entertained or informed by the production, which I knew, was to be performed by two stage readers, both seasoned actors.

I am sure you were pleased with the fine performance by J.W. Turner, giving the letters of your late father such vivid and sensitive readings, keeping us engaged with Wilber’s story from beginning to end. Little did we know what more there was to his story! I was pleased to learn that the author of the book upon which the stage presentation was based would be offering them for sale after the performance. I was eager to purchase one but certainly did not expect that because I was identified as General GeorgeS. Patton Jr.’s daughter-in -law I would be presented with a copy by the author, graciously inscribed to The Patton Family. I eagerly brought the book home and the next day began to read it. I did not realize what an adventure I was about to take! Thanks to your bringing your extraordinary talents as historian, scholar, and personal researcher, as well as your sensitive yet candid sharing of your families’ story, I can truthfully say that this was one the most compelling books I have read in sometime. The way you have integrated wartime events taking place in Europe, as well as in the Pacific area, interspersing their reports with personal letters and comments is remarkable. (I even found a reference to a transport voyage taken by Wilber on June 22, 1944, where the ship he was in was the “Willard A. Holbrook,” named for my own grandfather, a Chief of Cavalry in his day!).

Of course your book gives the reader the “Norma” story in toto, even though it was not included in the play. Your respect for all of your family was always clear, and I came to appreciate each one of them individually. We knew from the play that Wilber had died by hrs own hand but certainly did not see it in the context of the whole story. However, as a widow whose husband served in the Korean War and three times in the Vietnam Conflict I am quite familiar of the effects that their combat experience can bring. None of them is immune to residual effects.

On behalf of our Patton family, I thank you for the gift you have given us and all readers of “Wilber’s War”. It will be shared, and never forgotten.

Most Sincerely, Joanne H. Patton

May 14, 2016

Wilber’s War, a Great American Story

by J. Brady on (Five Stars)

The book is a fascinating and beautifully written firsthand account of the World War II era. This era exposed our citizen soldiers to the stresses of army life and combat. In addition, it forced major changes to the American family and to the lives of those who stayed at home. This book shows how one family endured the deployment of a National Guard unit to the Pacific and the way that family dealt with the separation, loneliness, and tragedy resulting from that deployment. I enjoyed reading all three volumes cover to cover and highly recommend this book. The letters made the story come alive.

November 17, 2015

A New Take on a History Book

by Brittany, on (Four Stars)

Wilber’s War: An American Family’s Journey through World War II was a long, but enjoyable read. Being a former history teacher, I enjoy history books. I love learning about the past and Wilber’s War definitely satisfied that passion. I learned a lot about World War II that I did not know. Most information that is taught about WWII focuses on the war in Europe. We learn little about the war in the Pacific and about the life of citizen’s back home. Wilber’s War gives insight into WWII in the Pacific and into the lives of the American family.

Wilber’s War is a trilogy. In the trilogy, we followed Wilber Bradt, his wife Norma, and his children Hale and Valerie through the events before, after, and during WWII. The first book is called Citizen Soldier. In this book we learn about the Wilber’s family history. We meet his parents and brothers and sisters. We also learn about how he and his wife met and follow his family as it grows. We also learn about Wilber’s sense of duty and citizenship to serve. We follow him on his journey into the service and being sent overseas to fight in the Pacific

Book two is called Combat and New life. In this book we learn more about the war in the Pacific. We get to see how the war was fought and how the military worked during WWII, through Wilber’s eyes. We also get to see more about what life was like in America during the war. Letters from Norma, Hale, and Valarie give insight into the personal aspects and hardships of having a man fighting during WWII.

Book three is called Victory & Homecoming. Wilber and the fighting moves from the south Pacific to the Philippines and eventually Japan. After the end of the war we watch as Wilber comes home to his family. We learn about how he tries to return to a normal life. This book is wrapped up with his death and the aftermath of it.

There were several things that I enjoyed about Wilber’s War. Even though this is a history book, it is not dry like most. The story is mainly told through letters written by Wilber and his family, with narration by Wilber’s son Hale. I like that we are given background information about the family before we jump into the story of the war. The author also did a very good job at getting the reader hooked. He started his book with the death of Wilber. He gave just enough information and left out just the right amount to make the reader want to keep reading to find out what happened and why. Then he goes back and tells the story from the beginning. I enjoyed the fact that he provided information about life on the war front, as well as at home in the States. Very few history books include what life was like on the home front.

I also like the fact that the author gives the facts about Wilber’s and Norma’s choices and then lets the reader decide how to judge them. The author was proud of both of his parents and does not speak about them negatively. Both Wilber and Norma had to make difficult choices and they may not have been the best, but they tried their best to do what they thought was right. I enjoyed learning more about WWII in the Pacific and the life on the home front. I was engaged in the story and wrapped up in the lives of the Bradt’s.

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% my own.

November 6, 2015

Book brings to life…home front and …battle front…

by Luther & Joyce Lovely, on (Five Stars)

This trilogy is truly a collector’s item for anyone who is an enthusiast of World War II. Hale is the son of Wilber and Norma, and he has researched thoroughly the background, battles and various conflicts of this war, particularly in the Far East, where his father fought. The book brings to life what life was like both on the home front and on the battle front through letters, records and research on this thoroughly developed topic. The author visited the actual places where the battles were fought in which his father participated, then interweaves history into the personal hopes, dreams, struggles and frailties that took place through the eyes of this family. Copies of family letters, photos, maps and the supportive narrative makes this trilogy a fine resource to possess both for reading, and then dipping into later. This would be a great Christmas gift for a World War Two buff or a valuable addition to any education institution’s library.

October 10, 2015

A Rich Read and Beautiful Gift

by Society Nineteen, on (Five Stars)

WILBER’S WAR is a three-volume look at an American family before, during and after World War II. Told in part through a collection of one soldier’s letters from the front, the book stands out for the number and vividness of those letters, the care with which the story is told, and the rich supporting documentation in both text and images/illustrations. Unlike many books that focus on the War and solders’ experience of it, WILBER’S WAR doesn’t skimp in its evocation of the life of those left in America; as Wilber literally and figuratively fights his battles, so his wife Norma must grapple with, and ultimately find the courage to transform, her own existence on the home front. Wilber’s death gives the story a deep pathos, but his unique character and his family’s strength ultimately makes the book a redemptive and inspiring “read.” As well as being fascinating for anyone interested in World War II, the Pacific Theater, and/or war’s impact on soldiers and their families, it’s a a moving exploration of a son attempting both to understand and honor his father’s life and legacy; in that sense, it’s a narrative with resonance far beyond its World War II focus. The gorgeous design and high quality of the three volumes and their slipcase makes it a pleasure to own as well as a beautiful gift.

September 22, 2015

A Front Row Seat  to World  War II Action

by Dee Long, on (Five Stars)

This three-set volume is an amazing historical record of how World War II affected the life and family of one senior Army officer who spent three years overseas. It is made all the more personal by using the actual letters sent back and forth among family members to describe the activity, the morale and the emotional impact of what was to have been “the war to end all wars.”

September 19, 2015

A Must Read

by K, on (Five Stars)

Wilber’s War is an absolute must read for anyone interested in “The Greatest Generation” and the sacrifices they and their families made to keep us free. It is a fascinating story that I found nearly impossible to stop reading from the first chapter until the end. This book gives the reader an intimate and complete picture of the war and its effect on an American family. Wilber’s longing to be with his wife and children is illustrated through the poignant letters he wrote back home. The campaigns Wilber was involved in are detailed, complete with maps. What really distinguishes this book, however, is that it provides rarely exposed insight into the full impact that being away at war had on the entire family.