This is a very timely book in view of the events unfolding in Ukraine. James Burke has set The Weekend Warriors in the 1980’s, but quite frankly it could be today.

The title of course refers to the men and women serving as reservists. To some people the reservists seem a somewhat odd bunch, one weekend a month and for a couple of weeks each summer they dress up in uniform and ‘play’ soldiers. This is a very unfair description, they are hard working men and women that bring valuable skills and manpower to our armed forces.

James Burke’s novel is an interesting one. The US in many ways were trying to untangle themselves from foreign policy, Vietnam had proved to be a costly mistake. It was time to move forward and concentrate on the problems at home. The soviets however had a different view. Now might be the perfect time to launch a land grab in West Germany. The west had lost its appetite for war, it would be like taking candies from a baby.

That would prove to not be the case. The Weekend Warriors follows the adventures of reservist Major Mike Fitzmaurice and his team as they are called into active duty. Within 10 days they find themselves in West Germany. I think it would be fair to say elements of the regular armed forces did little to welcome them, the sentiment, we need real soldiers not toy ones hung heavy in the air.

These were not ‘toy soldiers’, they were well trained and maybe, just maybe, they had an edge over their full time comrades, they had skills learned outside of the army, and a willingness to think outside of the manual.

It did not take long for them to prove their worth.

As a book reviewer I often find myself in an awkward situation, just how much of a plot is it fair to discuss without giving it all away? In this instance I believe it would be a huge disservice to both the author and the reader to say too much more. Instead, I think I will talk a little about the author and his credentials to write the book. It is a common theme in writing classes, write about subjects you know. To do otherwise puts you in a world of hurt.

James Burke does indeed have the correct resume. Before retiring he spent 25 years in the Army, National Guard and the Reserves.It does not take a huge leap of faith to see where one of the story lines comes from. The tension between regulars and reserves is probably quite high at times. Particularly when there is an active conflict. Being able to see both sides of the fence the author is able to bring sense and sensibility to the story.

What I really like about The weekend Warriors is the human aspect. The characters are well developed, as is the plot line. The reader is just sucked into a wonderful book.

As was noted earlier I don’t do spoilers, but I will leave you with this quote, if you read The Weekend Warriors you will discover if it is from the beginning or the end…

The young soldier walked up to the bulletin board outside the recently constructed small frame building that was the headquarters of the Fourth Battalion, 48th Infantry. He had been in the army a total of three months and five days and represented the average time in service of the soldiers assigned to 4/48

You can order your own copy of this fabulous book by using the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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