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Medal of Honor

Book Review

 

Title:

Medal of Honor

Author:

Allen Mikaelian

Publisher:

Hyperion Special Markets,  New York, NY

ISBN:

0-7868-6662-4

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

July, 2002

Rating:

1/2

Medal of Honor profiles the men and women of courage that  have won the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War to the modern era. This is a hard cover book of about 300 pages.

Started during the Civil War era, the Congressional Medal of Honor was originally  envisioned as recognizing gallantry in battle. As the years progressed, the  criteria became more stringent so as to honor servicemen for actions above and beyond the normal call of duty.

The focus of Medal of Honor is not so much on the military actions that led  to the awarding of the medal, nor is it about all of the servicemen honored by this award. The stories that are told by this book are mostly concerned with those that received the medal, yet survived the battle. It looks at the award in the context of their entire lives - how their upbringing prepared them for  battle, and how the award changed their lives forever. The actions for which these heroes were rewarded are told almost in passing.

Another highlight of the stories in this book is that a number of them involve servicemen with some minority status. The stories include Dr. Mary Walker who  was the first and only woman to be honored, "Hershey" Miyamura who fought bravely as a Japanese-American in the Italian campaign, and Vernon Baker who was one of the first African-American soldiers to receive the award in the 20th century. . A number of interviews with family members are presented for each serviceman, and this helps to build a complete picture of their lives, hopes and dreams.

This is an interesting collection of tales of trial by fire from the Civil War through the current day. The incidents leading to the award of their country's  highest honor demonstrate the extraordinary courage the CMH medal winners certainly  possessed in some of the darkest hours of the history of the United States.  The telling of these stories from the personal perspective separates this book from other war novels.

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