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Monday, August 31, 2015

Vows to the Fallen

Title: Vows to the Fallen
Author: Larry Laswell
Publisher: Marshell Publishing
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Format: Paperback – 277 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0986385322
Genre: Historical Fiction / Military / Sea Story

Book Description:
Vows to the Fallen
An Officer’s Journey Through Guilt and Grief
Another techno-thriller from the author of The Marathon Watch
August 9, 1942, 01:42 hours
USS Green on patrol off Red Beach, Guadalcanal
Bridge Officer: Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole
Lieutenant O’Toole’s goal is simple: someday he wants to become an admiral. But in a few moments, his life will change . . . forever. Yesterday, the marines stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal. Today, the Japanese Navy will strike back. The sudden and horrific carnage scars O’Toole for life and throws him into the abyss of survivor’s guilt and posttraumatic stress.
The Pacific War does not wait for O’Toole to heal. Duty calls, each new assignment brings more responsibility, and the roll call of the fallen grows. At the Battle of Mujatto Gulf, O’Toole faces a superior battle-hardened Japanese fleet and discovers the strength within him to climb from the abyss and find his true life’s mission. To the fallen, he vows never to abandon that mission no matter how high the cost.
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
 Pre-Order The Book: July 1, 2015!

Pump Up Your Book Tours is pleased to bring you Larry Laswell’s Vows to the Fallen, a historical fiction / military / sea story novel from July 15 – August 31, 2015.

About the Author

Larry Laswell served in the US Navy for eight years. In navy parlance, he was a mustang, someone who rose from the enlisted ranks to receive an officer’s commission. While enlisted, he was assigned to the USS John Marshall SSBN-611 (Gold Crew). After earning his commission, he served as main engines officer aboard the USS Intrepid CV-11. His last assignment was as a submarine warfare officer aboard the USS William M. Wood DD-715 while she was home ported in Elefsis, Greece.
In addition to writing, Larry, a retired CEO fills his spare time with woodworking and furniture design. He continues to work on The Marathon Watch series, an upcoming science fiction series titled The Ethosians, and an anthology of over eighty humorous sea stories titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale.
You can visit Larry Laswell’s website at

Book Readers Review

Hold on tight and roll with the waves!  Vows To The Fallen by Larry Laswell is a novel that has you gripping the edge of your seat while reading.  Laswell has captured World War 11 action in words that bring the reality and horror of humanity in times of war. Vows To The Fallen is Historical Fiction based on a real life story.   The  main character is Lieutenant/Captain Patrick O'Toole who aspires to a long Navy career, his goal to become an Admiral.  But his life changes on August 9, 1942, 01:42 hours. The Marines stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal. and the  Japanese Navy strike back. The sudden and horrific carnage scars OToole for life and throws him into the abyss of survivors guilt and posttraumatic stress. O'Toole has no time to recover before he is thrown full tilt into the Pacific War and incredibly stressful and challenging assignments.

The author, Larry Laswell, presents the story in a narrative form that carries you along with Patrick O'Toole and his ship mates.  You are there in the moment, feeling and experiencing the pain and frustrations of the war and individuals fears.  Laswell created characters that are vibrant and colorful and I thought adding a 'friend' for Patrick and his crew,was excellent.  Not giving away any spoilers.  This is an incredible story full of action and emotions that brought a tear to the eye at times.  I have no hesitation in recommending this novel to all who enjoy excellent prose, action and suspense.  You will not want to put the book down until the end.  My rating is five stars and more!

Guest Post

Part of my inspiration for Vows to the Fallen is to explore various aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I discovered PTSD is a multifaceted challenge facing all service members.

In World War II, they called it shell shock, and the army’s primary focus was on the physical and emotional toll combat takes on a soldier. The horror of combat and the psychological stress of life-threatening danger stretch soldiers to the breaking point. However, humans are like rubber bands and are capable of snapping back after being stretched—that is, until we have been stretched so many times that there is no elasticity left. In World War II, when the elasticity was gone, men had the 1,000-yard stare; they became almost catatonic.

That is but one facet of PTSD. Modern warfare and training methods have created another. After World War II, General Marshall conducted a survey and discovered that only 25 percent of infantry soldiers had actually fired their weapons at the enemy. This was a startling discovery that the army saw as a problem. The army discovered that the fear of killing another human being was greater than the soldiers’ fear of death. It was universal, and it occurred on both sides of the battlefield. Up until the time of the study, soldiers had been trained to spot the enemy, deliberately take aim, and then fire. This gave the soldier time to think about what he was about to do.

To solve this problem, the army started training soldiers on simulated battlefields with pop-up targets and laser guns; training became a nonlethal contest or game. The objective of the training was to teach the soldiers to fire on reflex before conscious thought and conscience could intervene.

We can see the results of this training now. Once away from the battlefield, soldiers have time to think about what happened and the lives they have taken. Soldiers have been trained to kill without thought, but the military didn’t teach them how to think about killing. The problem is how soldiers should deal with the issues of morality, conscience, and guilt once they leave the battlefield. This is but one other facet of PTSD.

A third facet of PTSD, and the one I focus on in Vows to the Fallen, is what I call the burden of command. A good example of this is the internal battle Tom Hanks’s character in Saving Private Ryan fought. As an officer he had to look his men in the eye and give orders that he knew would lead some of them to their deaths. This filled him with self-doubt: “What if I had done things differently? Would more men have survived?” He also had to deal with his conscience: “How many men have my decisions killed?” In short, he was filled with guilt, grief, and self-doubt, none of which he could show to his men.

I set Vows to the Fallen aboard destroyers in the South Pacific during World War II. I touched on each of these facets but focused my exploration of PTSD on the burden of command shouldered by the lead character, O’Toole. O’Toole struggles with his guilt and grief and tries to make sense of his role in the war. He desperately searches for a positive purpose in his role as an officer. In the end, he finds that purpose in a surprising place—in the roll call of the fallen.
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