The Weekend Warriors
The story setting is the 1980s, the Cold War dragging to a close. However, it’s not over yet. The Soviet Union is increasingly engaging with NATO countries, Russian planes invading U.S. airspace and moving into an unprepared peacetime Germany. The Americans have had enough, and family man Mike Fitzmaurice of Boston finds himself mobilized overnight. He commands a unit headed for Germany, a group of civilians who trained but never really expected to go to war. They are “weekend warriors,” forced to pull together limited resources and face battle against a professional Russian military hardened by years of war in Afghanistan.
One of the strongest parts of this novel is the battle scenes, which move from the grand scale of an airstrike and then into the intimate point of view of the soldiers on the ground scrambling to learn their trade on the fly. They rise to the occasion in such scenes as a corporate executive finding a use for her Russian language skills. Just as strong are the personal relationships that develop between characters whose lives depend on each other. In a subplot, Fitzmaurice’s wife Elizabeth, a surgeon in Boston, finds herself treating Mike’s fallen comrades. Some parts of the book could use attention, such as the frequent use of unfamiliar military jargon. I interpreted this language by context as much as possible and then when finished with the novel found the glossary in the back. A better way to handle such terminology is to incorporate the definition in the text itself, through interior and exterior dialogue, rather than the reader constantly referring to a glossary and being taken out of the story. The story doesn’t grab interest initially, as the first scenes are told from an omniscient narrator or through memos and announcements—at times the narrator seems to be the announcement itself. However, once the story moves into Michael Fitzmaurice’s point of view, the reader is hooked in the desire to find out if this weekend warrior and his rag-tag team will prevail.
James W. Burke Jr.