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90 Day Wonder - Darkness Remembered based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
In Steven C. Barber's 2007 film "Return to Tarawa," which features Leon Cooper's role in the Battle of Tarawa, and in many interviews about the film available online, Mr. Cooper is portrayed as a heroic character who ferried Marines into Tarawa and wounded guys out throughout the 3-day battle in November of 1943. Cooper also reportedly helped with graves detailing in the days that follow. Unfortunately, by Cooper's own account in this book, his landing craft was hit, then he was returned to a ship and cleared for duty by a Navy doctor. Cooper then ordered a coxswain to bring him to a strip of land far away from the battle for about a week, by which time the fighting and follow-up actions had ended. Essentially, Cooper went AWOL. Both accounts cannot be true. I suspect his first account in this book is the truthful one, since it's right around the time Barber's film came along that suddenly Cooper became the invincible war hero of Tarawa. Why lie in a self-published autobiography that few people will read anyway? Cooper's own account makes it clear he never actually set foot in Tarawa in 1943, which shoots holes in the premise of Barber's film. Truth matters, especially when understanding history. The problem with Cooper's role in Barber's would-be "Hollywood" representation is that if it's okay to lie about one thing than certainly many other details have been falsified as well. Cooper's credibility is, therefore, extremely questionable. Advice for readers: read the book. See the film. Watch the online interviews with Cooper and Barber. And then decide if truth matters; decide if it's okay for an aging veteran and a start-up film director to fudge the truth about a battle in which many brave American Marines really did fight and die.
I can understand 'artistic license' and 'embellishing' to make a book more enjoyable for the reader, but this book goes far beyond that. The USS Harry Lee was only commissioned between 1942 and 1946. During that time, when Cooper was supposedly on board, there were three different commanders. None of these three went on to command the Mt. McKinley. One of the commanders was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding service during the invasion of Sicily, where no lives were lost or damage done to the Lee. In fact, there was no casualties on the LEE until Iwo Jima. None of the captains went on to command the USS Potomoc (which was President Roosevelt's yacht, not President Truman's), because it was decommissioned in 1946. One of the captains did, however go on to command the USS Dauntless, the flagship for Admiral King, Chief of Naval Operations. This Captain retired soon after, in 1947, with the rank of Rear Admiral, awarded by special request of the President. It seems the main charachter of this novel had a problem with all authority, as he brags about time after time of his disrespect to most officers or employers that he writes about. How sad to trash the US Navy and the careers of men who gave up 20 to 30 years of their lives in service to their county. One must also wonder why this self published novel was not published until 2003.....maybe so that no peers of the officers are still alive to dispute this? Many of the surviving crew members had vastly different rememberances of their time aboard the USS Harry Lee. Let's be honest and call this a novel.........not a 'true life experience'.
90 DAY WONDER - DARKNESS REMEMBERED is a great book, a fabulous book, to be read, savored, and remembered. A captivating real life history lesson! The book is not just a story of World War II and how a young college graduate becomes an officer in the Navy after 90 days of training, but it is also a story about exactly what war and life was like during that era. Told in the covers of this book are multi-hued levels of experience to be analyzed and digested. The largest of these is the story of his superior officer who is a sadistic commander. He drives other officers and enlisted men unnecessarily and purposefully to their deaths. Engineering student, Leon Cooper, is about to graduate from the University of Illinois when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and the USA is pulled into the war against Japan, Germany, and their allies. Through the eyes of Leon Cooper we learn what it is like to make the transition from civilian life to officer and gentleman. Cooper is plunged into World War II with an important combat role to play. Leon Cooper leads us through the physical and mental reality of a nation at war. His individual story reveals what it was like to live and fight during that crucial time in our nation¿s history. In detail, this story conveys the reality of World War II aboard a cruise ship refitted for combat duty. The ship is able to transport 1000 fighting marines with a crew of 400 enlisted men and officers. Cooper¿s role is to man `Higgins Boats,¿ assault landing crafts during island invasions. Leon Cooper leaves behind his successful college life, a promise of a good job, and a secure future for duty in the armed forces. He also leaves behind a woman he cares about. Leon chooses the Navy and his personal life, like the lives of millions of other men, is interrupted with a war that cannot be ignored. From private life, we follow the individual story of Cooper¿s introduction to Navy service and training. From there we relive his experiences as he faces the challenges presented to him. If the war is to be won, the young men of the country must sacrifice all personal ambition and possibly their lives for their country. Leon Cooper¿s story reveals that he gets more than he bargained for. He must serve under a sadistic commander whose behavior is more threatening than that of the Japanese. Commander Boda takes an instant dislike to Lieutenant Cooper and throughout the war repeatedly attempts to get him killed. This unique account reveals more than the story of life aboard ship during combat. It tells the tale of a man¿s inhumanity to men. A group of soldiers aboard ship during combat are subjected to inhumane rules and punishment, making life all that more unbearable and dangerous. Through Cooper¿s eyes we follow his daily struggle to deal with death, turmoil, and survival while on board a sadistic commander¿s ship. We learn how Cooper copes, keeping his integrity and looking out for the lives of his fellow men. The reader sees young Cooper enter the service with basic expectations and a healthy spirit. Through no fault of his own he is subjected to unnecessary torture by a twisted commander. Leon Cooper, a sensitive intelligent human being, returns home damaged by his military experiences. The story continues and we follow him into marriage, civilian life, and work. We watch him struggle as a scarred war veteran. Down deep we see the anger and how the bitter experiences distort his daily life. Death and torture remain in Leon¿s psyche and we see how it affects him. Conflict continues as he deals with his own personal hell. As Cooper nears discharge from the Navy, he renews his relationship with the woman he loves and marries her. He gives her credit for loving and believing in him; thus, giving him the ability to move forward. What is unique about this book is the story does not end with the culmination of the war nor with Leon Cooper¿s transition into civilian life.
Co-author Leon Cooper recounts his experiences as a U.S. Naval officer during World War II. The story goes backwards and forwards in time, but mainly begins around the time Pearl Harbor was bombed. The reader glimpses several key people in Cooper's life, such as Lt. Commander Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Then there is Captain Boda of the Harry Lee who took an instant dislike of Cooper and began to make life very difficult. In fact, Boda is to Cooper what Vader is to Luke, a dark and maleficent force that needed to be reckoned with. .................... Then there is the return to civilian life. With all he has witnessed, Cooper and Alberta (the love of his life) must somehow cope with not only the events during Cooper's military time, but also events from his childhood. ...................... ***** If you enjoy reading about history, biographies, or just the events around the WW II era, then I strongly recommend this novel! ................... Authors Leon Cooper and Don Tait have done an excellent job in blending Cooper's military time, home life, and even his childhood days into a riveting story for readers. An outstanding piece of work! *****
I was first intrigued by the title, 90 Day Wonder. It turns out not to be a complimentary title given to certain soldiers/officers during their WWII stint. The battle scenes are so vivid and horrific, (much like the battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan) you truly get the feeling that the author witnessed the true horrors of war. No holds barred.