Men At War, Book I, The Last Heroes

Lest you were worried that I ran out of WEB Griffin books to read, have no fear! I've started 2008 off right with the Men At War series, and took a look at the first book, The Last Heroes. Let's see, Griffin has focused on Army life in The Brotherhood series, on Marine life in The Corps, so we're due for the Navy, and that is what The Last Heroes focuses on. However, before we start humming "Anchors Aweigh," it's more focused on the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the current CIA), and naval aviation, with sprinklings of lots of tales that we've touched on before.

The novel starts in the early summer of 1941. It appears that America's involvement in the war seems inevitable, and preparations are being made. These include President Franklin Roosevelt putting Wild Bill Donovan in charge of setting up the OSS (interestingly a lifelong friend, law school classmate, and diehard Republican). While each of the branches of the service would collect intelligence relevant to them, for example the US Navy's intelligence branch keeping up on the strengths and weaknesses of foreign navies, no one really had the entire picture of what was going on with enemy countries. Hence the need for the OSS.

Against this backdrop, Griffin writes a tale of the chosen service members that get involved with the newly forming OSS. In The Last Heroes, we get taken from Washington DC, to an American private air wing fighting the Japanese over China, to Morocco, and even a stop in the Philippines. Griffin manges to work in some info about General MacArthur that didn't make it into The Corps series. Another theme is collecting uranium for a nuclear bomb.

My criticism of this novel is that for the small size of the book, there's too much going on with too many characters. I can see plenty of groundwork being laid for future plots and relationships, but it ends up being a little confusing at times. Still, at this writing, there's 6 novels in the series, and with Griffin's son cowriting the last two, I'd expect this series to outlast the author.

Overall Grade: B

Reviewed by Jonas

Also reviewed:

The Secret Warriors, Men At War, Book II

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