Sunday, September 29, 2013

M1 Brothers by Bill Hancock

The truth is that I didn’t know much about the Korean War before my exposure to this book. I wasn’t even sure I would enjoy reading about weapons and conflict, but Bill Hancock writes a story that gives such intricate details, it is obvious that only one who has been there could so accurately describe the setting, the atmosphere and the intensity.

His protagonist, CC, is a genuine gentleman and a talented marksman. Since he is the epitome of a good guy, could he really kill someone in battle if necessary? He comes from a family where military service has been tradition, but does this super nice guy have the killer instinct if he or his fellow soldiers find themselves under duress? You will discover the answer to these questions.

Reading this story reminded me of my own Dad briefly mentioning that during his World War II service, he knew and was prepared to do whatever was necessary under any given circumstances, but was always thankful that he never came face to face with an enemy individual whom he would personally have to kill. I can surely understand why he would feel that way, and I am also certain that those whose war experiences did involve a "kill or be killed" situation would never again be the same person post-war. This is why so many who served and returned really didn’t want to discuss or relive their experiences.

What was it really like to suddenly find yourself in the service, separated from family, friends and life as one knew it? What was this Korean War all about? According to, it was a short but exceptionally bloody war. It began on June 25, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea and ended on July 27, 1953when an armistice agreement was signed, creating a DMZ patrolled by both sides at all times.

A visit to indicates that there was never a peace treaty signed, so the war technically never ended. Hmm…interesting in view of news that frequently arises from that area, true?

Http:// tells us that nearly five million people died (that sounds like a mighty big number), and more than half were civilians. Almost 40,000 Americans died in action and more than 100,000 were wounded.

It is reported that as of June, 2013, 7,900 American soldiers are still reported as missing in action from the Korean War.

M1 Brothers takes place between September, 1952 and July, 1954, and Hancock provides the current headlines of the day at the beginning of each chapter. When I first began reading the book, I wasn’t sure I could really get into it; however, in a short time, I was hooked on the story and found that I was eager to see what would happen next.

It is a story enveloping a “who do you trust?” scenario. Who are the good guys? Are people who you think they are?

At first I was a little bit distracted by the fact that this book is written in the present tense, something I’m simply not accustomed to seeing. In time, I did get comfortable with that style and began to see that it perhaps brings the reader more into the moment.

There are some editing issues, but don’t let that stop you from reading an intriguing novel that is based on history with which many of us are rather unfamiliar. It turned out to be a very suspenseful, gripping read. I heard a rumor that there is a sequel in the works, and I’ll be ready to add it to my “To Read” list!

Book Description

Bill Hancock takes the reader on an adventure that chronicles life in the early fifties. M1 Brothers is a fast paced story that mingles military adventure with history, espionage, courage, honor and humor. The M1 Brothers find fraternity, love and deception, deal with psychological issues and create mischief akin to MASH.

Main character, Charlie Canfield, CC to all, is the reluctant scion of a lineage of warriors. He worries about his ability to emulate these heroic predecessors even though he possesses the means that can make it possible.

Hancock's cruel and cunning North Korean master spy is Bek Man Sue. His goal is to disrupt and overturn the South Korean government, while brutally punishing adversaries. Brian Roberts is the uniquely talented pawn in this masterful tale as it whirls across the treacherous hills behind the DMZ (demilitarized zone).

In the Words of Bill Hancock

“This book was written because it is a story that I felt a need to tell. It is fiction based on historical fact that chronicles life in the early fifties. Our country had ended a terrible World War just a few years earlier at an enormous cost of life and wealth. The veterans of that war, who were deeply scarred in many ways, were finding their places back in society and now a new threat appears that many of their children are called to repulse. New members are called into the fraternity of the good to combat an ongoing existence of evil.”
About Bill Hancock

The author has more than 50 years of technical and management experience. Some 44 years were spent working for various corporations and another 8 years running his own consulting company. During all this, he gained recognition as a management and cost model innovator, product developer, inventor, technical author and mentor.
Bill Hancock
As a consultant, he worked on the Lockheed Martin Federal Systems Merlin Helicopter Training Program in England. Then he returned to create training materials and teach NASA approved classes in Project Management Fundamentals, Parametric Cost Estimating, Work Breakdown Structure and Configuration Management at NASA facilities around the country.

While at IBM for 26 years, he started as an engineer in the Information Records Division and worked on printing equipment for paper products sold by the corporation. To most IBM means International Business Machine Corporation, but to many within the corporation, it means I’ve Been Moved.

After a few years, he moved to the Federal Systems Division to work as a test director and reentry vehicle trajectory analyst. When that assignment was complete, he moved on to the Manassas, Virginia FSD plant to become a software cost engineer, systems and software cost engineering manager, subcontract program manager, deputy program manager and program manager.

Prior to IBM he worked for Ingersoll-Rand as a project engineer and developed the first fluidized hospital bed for burn patients. Before Ingersoll-Rand he held a senior designer position at Curtiss-Wright Electronics Division, a designer job at Bendix Corporation, a junior designer job at Curtiss-Wright, a draftsman position at Trowbridge Conveyor Co., and his first job was as a junior draftsman at Hewitt-Robins Inc. While working for Hewitt-Robins, Bill Hancock was called into service during Korean War in Army to serve as infantry soldier and battalion draftsman in Korea.  All education after high school was at night at Stevens Institute of Technology, Fairleigh Dickinson University and Newark College of Engineering.

Bill is now happily retired and enjoying life in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Stop by in a couple of weeks for a new article featuring another intriguing book!

Here's to Reading for a Better Life,

Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect and From Italy with Love & Limoncello.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Like a Little Bit of the Handsome Americans Myself by Richard Lutman

The author warned me that this novella, I Like a Little Bit of the Handsome Americans Myself, would be different from anything I have ever read. He wasn’t exaggerating! I say that with a genuine smile.

With colorful characters including Cutbank, Porkwinder, Windust, Magnum, Mr. Watanabe, Darlene Darlene (just to name a few), this rich- with-dialog story takes us on a wild and crazy journey through a variety of relationships and interactions. It’s a joy ride of Seinfeldish proportions including a worm salesman, auto theft, a female singer with Norm Crosby’s vocabulary who eventually becomes a damsel in distress, a cowboy and active firearms.

This story features a whirlwind road trip, fast paced snippets of action and situations that may cause the reader to ponder what is this all about and where is it going?

Let it be said, however, that if you enjoy reading about peculiar adventures packed with eccentric individuals dashing through life with strangely connected agendas, you will love this novella. If you were a fan of Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld, you will likely bond with these characters!

FYI-Contains potentially offensive language, depending upon how you view the use of certain colorful words.

Book Description

A dialogue-driven offbeat road tale set in the early 1970s in Boredemus, Indiana, I Like A Little Bit of the Handsome Americans Myself is the first great American novella. 

When J.R. and the Cutbank Cool set out to see the Handsome Americans play at the Nobility Hall, they set off a series of events with a worm salesman, a cowboy on a motorized hotdog, and a spaced out deejay that end in a supra-dramatic rescue of a former Miss Chicken Parts from the abandoned railroad tracks outside Boredemus.

They are pursued throughout by Arnold Porkwinder who deals in chrome and wants his $804.04 in back rent.  With him is Mr. Watanabe, a Japanese gentleman with unique insight and an expert baseball card flipper.

In the Words of Richard Lutman

I Like A Little Bit Of The Handsome Americans Myself is a quirky road novella set in the early seventies. There is no deep meaning in this novella which took me a month to write.  A crucial and very funny pseudo love scene occurs in a Laundromat which inspired the cover.  Pacing was important.  Most of the action is dialogue-driven so the chapters had to be short. 

J.R., one of the main characters, is based on a real person.  Many of the scenes in the novella actually occurred.

On the back of a shack door in Rhode Island, three names were scrawled across the rough wooden surface followed by the words ‘The Handsome Americans.’  After a night of drinking several pitchers of beer at a local bar and watching a very bad band perform, one of the beer drinkers said “There they are--The Handsome Americans,” which brought much laughter.  Every time another bad band performed or a conversation got long winded out would come, “I like a little bit of the Handsome Americans myself,” said in the most serious tone possible.  The name seemed appropriate for the band and the title of the novella. 
About Richard Lutman

Richard Lutman lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  He has a MFA in Writing from Vermont College.  He currently teaches short story classes as part of Coastal Carolina University's Lifelong Learning program.  His fiction has appeared in: Verdad, Slow Trains, The Green Silk Journal, Dark Sky Magazine, The Bicycle Review, Epiphany Magazine, The Petigru Review, Deep South Magazine, The Newport Review, Dew on the Kudzu, The Corner Cupboard Press, The Green Briar Review, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and Prick of the Spindle. He has also won local and national awards for his short stories, nonfiction and screenplays.   He was a 2008 Pushcart Nominee. 

A chapbook of his flash fiction was published in June 2009, a long narrative poem in 2011 and a chapbook of four short stories in 2013 by The Last Automat Press.  A novella entitled "I Like a Little Bit of the Handsome Americans Myself" can be found on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle.  Another novella, "Iron Butterfly" can be found at The WriteDeal Publishers.

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Come on back in a couple of weeks for an introduction to another book and author!

All the best,
Mary Anne Benedetto 

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect and From Italy with Love & Limoncello.