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It is 1941, and friends Adam, Joe, Dale, and Catherine are similar to most young adults. College, dating, and fast cars are what they know and live for. And in Chicago, Illinois, the near center of America, world conflict seems merely a distant rumor.

But as turmoil in Europe develops into full-scale war, Chicago suddenly abounds with talk of America's entering the fight. Drawn by the promise of freedom and the allure of battle, Joe and Dale ...
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Battle Lines

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It is 1941, and friends Adam, Joe, Dale, and Catherine are similar to most young adults. College, dating, and fast cars are what they know and live for. And in Chicago, Illinois, the near center of America, world conflict seems merely a distant rumor.

But as turmoil in Europe develops into full-scale war, Chicago suddenly abounds with talk of America's entering the fight. Drawn by the promise of freedom and the allure of battle, Joe and Dale join the Army, Adam the Marines, and Catherine the Naval Nurse Service. Far away from home and facing the reality of war in all its horror, they find the world a frighteningly big and unforgiving place, and what began as a quest for freedom becomes a battle to stay alive in one of the bloodiest wars of the twentieth century.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's January 1941, and four young friends are getting ready to enlist at the beginning of this fictional equivalent of a TV miniseries, a novel that feels like exactly what it is: the prologue to a series of novels about WWII. Joe Parker writes pulp stories; his brother, Dale, is a natural mechanic who likes to race fast cars; and Joe's friend Adam Bergman has built himself up physically to defend himself against anti-Semitic baiting, which is something that Adam's girlfriend, Catherine Tancred, hears all too much of from her Austrian father. But it's Dale's liaison with the wife of a powerful Chicago banker that leads everyone (including Catherine) to that enlistment booth, since the banker's desire for revenge against the Parkers and their friends is only satisfied when Joe and Dale agree to enlist. Author Reasoner (whose Civil War series includes the novels Manassas and Shiloh) tells a competent story, neither surprising nor disappointing; unfortunately, it's not exciting, either. There's a formulaic silver screen feel to everything, from the basic training scenes (which would probably end up on the cutting room floor) to the obvious device of setting up the only two fathers in the book as a martinet (Catherine's dad) and a drunken lout (Joe and Dale's). No tough choices for the protagonists: all they have to do to be heroic is stand up against unlikable characters. In the end, everything reads as introductory material, from Joe and Dale's assignments as radioman and mechanic to the ending itself, which manages to feel both like a clich and an afterthought. It's The Winds of War on a diminished scale call it The Breeze of War. (June) Forecast: The incredibly prolific Reasoner strikes out here. It'll be uphill work to make this series stick, but wartime action may enliven future installments. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
". . . intelligent and compassionate." —Booklist

"Believable people, doing believable things in unbelievable but very real times, making for one hell of a read."—David Hagberg

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429979603
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 6/2/2001
  • Series: Last Good War , #1
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 221,719
  • File size: 421 KB

Meet the Author

James Reasoner is the author of more than twenty novels of action and adventure, including the previous World War II novels Battle Lines and Trial by Fire, and a series of Civil War novels focused around major battles, including Manassas and Antietam. He and his wife, suspense writer L. J. Washburn live with their family in Azle, Texas.
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Read an Excerpt

  ONESIX MONTHS EARLIER“Listen to this,” Joe said. He read from the magazine with the garish cover that he held. “‘We give you Bill Combat, a fighting man in the bloody skies of today! Death flies the Swastika across the ceiling, but Captain Combat knows the Nazis must be stopped. Here in living pages we tell his thrilling story, which you will long remember when the battle smoke has cleared!’”From the other bed in the rear bedroom of the Greenwood Avenue house, where he lay in undershirt and shorts, Dale said, “The guy’s name is Combat?”“Yeah. Bill Combat.”“Who the hell is named Combat?”“The guy in this story, for one.”Dale shook his head. “You can do better than that.”“Why do you think I became a pulp writer?”Dale grinned and rubbed his thumb and fingers together and said, “Moolah, my friend, moolah.”“Oh, yeah, like I’m getting rich. Thrilling Adventures hasn’t paid me yet for that last yarn of mine they published, and it came out two months ago.”“That headhunters of Borneo thing?”“And it even got the cover!” Joe tossed the magazine aside and swung his legs out of bed. In his pajamas, he walked across the room to the small table where his typewriter was set up.As Joe pulled back the chair, Dale said, “You start pecking on that thing, Pop’s gonna bitch about the noise.” He lowered his voice and went on in a growling tone, “Why do you have to do that this late at night? Don’t you know that decent people with decent jobs are asleep by this hour? Oh, yeah, you don’t have a decent job, do ya, ya bum?”“Pop’s never called me a bum,” Joe said as he sat down in front of the typewriter and picked up the top sheet from the stack of paper beside it on the right. “And you’re so funny you ought to be on the radio with Jack Benny and Fred Allen. Now go twiddle your thumbs or something, I’m busy.”He read over what was written on the page, then set it back on the stack. From the pile of blank pages on the left, he picked up a sheet and rolled it into the typewriter, adjusting it carefully. He frowned in thought, then began hitting the keys.“What’re you working on?” Dale asked after a moment.“‘Gun-Slammers of Cougar Basin.’ I think I can peddle it to Ten Story Western.”“What’s your hero’s name, Bill Gunfighter?”“Shut up.” Joe continued typing. It wasn’t easy to work with Dale in the room, but he knew that if he kept plugging away, eventually he would get caught up in the flow of the words and his shabby surroundings would fall away from him and he’d feel as if he was actually in the story, riding the dusty trails of Cougar Basin with Rance Jarrett, the drifting gunman who was going to wind up saving Peggy Dane’s ranch from the villainous Arch Sundeen …A fist pounded on the door of the bedroom, and Sam Parker said loudly, “Hey! Don’t you know what time it is?”Joe stopped typing and looked around. Dale smirked at him. “Sorry, Pop,” Joe called through the door. “Just a little more, and then I’ll stop.”“It better not be long.” Sam Parker’s dragging footsteps receded down the hall.Told you so, Dale mouthed.Joe lifted the middle finger of his left hand at him and turned back to the typewriter. Where the hell was I?Somebody rapped lightly on the window.Joe’s breath hissed between his teeth in frustration. He could reach the window from where he was sitting, so he pushed the curtains aside. The window was raised several inches already since it was a warm night. Joe grasped the bottom and pushed it up even more. Adam Bergman stuck his head in through the opening. “Hi, fellas. What’re you doing?”“I was trying to work,” Joe told him.From the bed, Dale added, “And I was trying not to die of boredom.”“It’s too nice a night to work,” Adam said, “and I got a cure for your boredom, Dale. Catherine and I are going to Caskey’s Pier. Why don’t you come with us?”“It’s late, in case you didn’t know,” Joe began, but Dale was already getting out of bed.“Sounds good to me. There a hot band there tonight?”“Jasper Thorn’s Melody Makers.”Dale let out a low whistle. He reached for his pants.“Wait a minute,” Joe said. “It’s late. Do Catherine’s parents know where she is?”“What they don’t know won’t hurt ’em,” Adam said. “C’mon, Joe, it’ll be fun.”Joe shook his head. “I appreciate you thinking of us, but Dale and I both have to work in the morning.”“Speak for yourself,” Dale said. “I hate that damn job. I’m gonna be quitting in a couple of weeks anyway when school starts. What’s it matter if they fire me now?”“Two weeks wages, that’s what it matters,” Joe said. He stopped himself from adding, Two weeks wages that I won’t have to earn. He had been the family’s chief breadwinner for two years now, ever since that damned bull had crushed Sam Parker’s leg and ended his job at the stockyards. And he had never begrudged all the hard work he did to support himself and his brother and their parents. But Dale’s cavalier attitude about money bothered him, always had. Things weren’t as tight as they had been a few years earlier, in the depths of the Depression, but a fella was still lucky to have a job.“And don’t talk like that in the house,” Joe added. “Ma might hear.”“Wouldn’t want her to die of a damn heart attack because of her baby boy’s damn language, would we?” Dale finished buttoning his shirt and tucked it in. “Where’s Catherine?”“Waiting in the car.” Adam jerked a thumb toward Greenwood Avenue. He was still leaning in the window with his elbows hooked over the sill. Even though the bedroom was on the first floor, it was built up several feet from the ground to allow more room for the basement. Joe knew that Adam was standing on a box to reach the window. He and Dale kept an old orange crate behind the shrubs to make it easier for them to come and go through the window. Not that they snuck out a lot at night, Joe thought. Well, he didn’t, anyway. Dale was a different story.Dale finished tying his shoes. “Let’s go.” He looked at Joe, who was still in his pajamas. “You’re not coming?”“I want to write a little more, like I told Pop, and then I’m going to sleep.”Dale shrugged. “Your loss. See ya.”Adam hopped down from the window. Dale swung a leg over the sill and bent as low as he could. Because of his height, he had more trouble going in and out this way than Joe did. But a moment later he was gone, and Joe was left facing the typewriter.The page had only eight lines on it. What with all the interruptions, he had barely gotten started. It wasn’t like he was rolling or anything, so if he quit for the night, it wouldn’t be any great loss … .He heard the roar of an engine from the street as a car powered away from the curb. That would be Catherine’s Plymouth, Joe told himself. There was no longer any point in trying to talk himself out of working. He might as well get back to it, he thought with a sigh.Rance saw the gunman reach for—No, not “reach for,” “grab for.” Rance saw the gunman grab for his pistol, and he flung himself to the side as he slapped leather. The Colt bucked in his hand and sent lead fanging at the killer. Lefty staggered back, crimson blooming on his shirt front as his revolver slipped from nerveless fingers. “Yuh … yuh polecat!” he gasped. Should that be “damned polecat?” Joe asked himself, then shook his head. No, he’d leave it like it was. Now he needed to have Peggy witness the shooting, so she could see for herself for the first time just what a gunslick Rance really was, and she’d be drawn to him but sort of afraid of him at the same time … .The typewriter keys continued clicking into the night.Copyright © 2001 by James Reasoner and Tekno Books
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