Book Review: The Final Salute by Kathleen M. Rodgerscategories: Book, Fighter Pilots, Military Aviation, Military Spouses, Military Brats, Sex Scandals, Cover-Ups, Loss, Grief, Gulf War, Vietnam War, Military
Kathleen M. Rodgersabout this book: The story is about a fighter pilot and his family set against the backdrop of the United States Air Force around the time of the Gulf War. Two key themes I explored in this story are fighter pilots dying in peacetime training missions and how the brass and bad commanders cover up sex scandals in the military. The story is based on the years I spent as a military wife married to an Air Force fighter pilot.
I worked hard to make this story appeal to both male and female readers. From the notes and reviews I've received, it seems I've achieved my goals. I hear from retired and active duty pilots. Some of my biggest supporters are the men and women who worked as crew chiefs on the flight line, drove fuel trucks, worked maintenance, personal, air traffic control. I hear from civilians who tell me this story helps them understand what military families go through. And of course military wives.
I spent sixteen years writing, revising, and finding a traditional publisher. The biggest challenge in writing this book: Getting inside the minds of male fighter pilots. Since "The Final Salute" was written on speculation, I had to impose my own deadlines, and I had to keep telling the ugly voices in my head to shut up. I learned to trust my storytelling abilities and my life experiences, and that combination gave me the authority I needed to complete the novel and put it through numerous revisions.
Both the title and the cover art are symbolic of the missing-man formation which is flyover that honors a fallen pilot. The title is also symbolic of the last farewell for those who have retired or separated from the military.
"The Final Salute" was ranked #1 on Amazon's Top Rated War Fiction for over two months- 2012. Ranked #2 on Amazon's best selling Military Aviation – 2010. Stories about my novel have appeared in The Associated Press, USA Today, Military Times, Family magazine, Mobile Press-Register, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and several other publications. In 2009, Army Wife Network selected The Final Salute for their July book club, and that same year the author won a Silver Medal from Military Writers Society of America (MWSA).
I am grateful to the people who've taken the time to read my book and write a review. I have them to thank for my Top Rated Ranking on Amazon.
preview: read a sample from this book
what to read next: if you read and liked this book...
A compelling glimpse into military lives and military wives
by author Bonnie Bartel LatinoThe military is not just a job--or even a career. It is a way of life that only those who have lived it can fully appreciate. Kathleen Rodgers' debut novel, "The Final Salute: We Live On," proves that she understands what it means to love a fighter pilot -- and to be in competition with his mistress -- flight.
As a former columnist for Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe, an Air Force wife of thirty years, a book reviewer for the Mobile (AL) Press-Register and a miltary novelist myself, I recommend "The Final Salute" to those who have either lived this way of life or who want to understand it beyond sound bites on nightly news when a military unit is deployed or returns from deployment. What happens after the cameras and reporters go home and the lights are turned off in the hangar?
In "The Final Salute you will discover the answer to that question. Quoting again from the front matter of the novel, Rodgers is at her most eloquent: "Early in my marriage, I learned about the other side of military aviation. The side nobody likes to talk about when a plane goes down. When a hush goes over a squadron of men like a black pall because earth and sky have collided and one of their brothers isn't coming home. . ."
Aviators' spouses acutely understand the fragility of life. Peacetime air training missions gone wrong are just as deadly as wartime aerial combat. Because of the nature of their profession, grief often follows fighter pilots like shadows. Kathleen Rodgers realistically captures the essence of this way of life. While the novel contains some strong language, it is appropriate to this military setting. Make no mistake, "The Final Salute" is experience-based fiction.
The book's front matter includes the information that the book was written "in memory of fallen friends, too numerous to mention" and dedicated to the author's husband, retired Air Force fighter pilot, Lt. Colonel Tom Rodgers, "whose ghosts first inspired this story." Many of Rodgers' former wingmen, now gone to glory, appear disguised as spirits in the novel's most compelling chapter, which partially takes place in a cemetery.
While I have never met the author, I have come to know and respect her as a consumate and polished professional through our association in the Military Writers Society of America.
Bonnie Bartel Latino, co-author (with Bob Vale) of the military love story, "Your Gift to Me," which is nominated for a 2012 Book Award from the Military Writers Society of America.
Video 1: Part 1 of 2, of Author Kathleen M Rodgers TV interview on the program 'You Should Know'
Video 2: Part 2 of 2
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