About The Author

auJim Burke served over 25 years in the Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the Army Command and General Staff College. An amateur military historian, he is a Civil War Re-enactor with Company K, Third United States Regular Infantry and Second New Hampshire Cavalry. Burke currently resides in Kennebunkport, ME with his family.  He can be reached at seanchi48@aol.com

 


Reviews

The Weekend Warriors is an Eric Hoffer Award Finalist.

KIRKUS REVIEW

A thriller that dramatizes what might have happened if old hostility between NATO and Warsaw Pact nations had spiraled into violence.

What if the Cold War suddenly ran red hot? That’s the tantalizing premise of Burke’s debut novel, which unfurls the grim historical possibilities. Michael Patrick Fitzmaurice is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and a former full-time soldier following in the footsteps of his father, who saw combat in Vietnam. As Russia and its Warsaw Pact allies question the resolve and strength of NATO and see an opportunity in its perceived weakness, Fitzmaurice presciently sees the handwriting on the wall early on. Soviet military forces continue to gather near the German border as scattered engagements between troops crescendo into something grander. Fitzmaurice, much to the consternation of his anxious wife, Elizabeth, is called to active duty and sent to Europe for what seems like an inevitable war. The issue of the obligations of reservists, or “weekend warriors,” is a recurrent theme in this book; for example, Elizabeth ruefully wonders why so much responsibility is being placed on her husband, who is now in harm’s way: “Why does a reservist have to be the one to show other soldiers how to blow up tanks with firebombs?” The author, a former reservist, does an admirable job of depicting the honor and courage of such part-time soldiers, whose commitment is often as steadfast as their full-time counterparts’. Also, his portrayals of combat violence are stunning and chilling by turns. That said, the deluge of insider military initialisms will likely confuse, frustrate, and eventually overwhelm nonmilitary readers, though they do serve as a testament to the depth of Burke’s knowledge of martial life. He includes a glossary of terms at the end of the book—an implicit admission of their problematic frequency. The action is still electric, though, and the book’s vision of how quickly geopolitical instability might have devolved into global conflict is uneasily stirring. Overall, this is a work of both literary and historical appeal and an endearing paean to the soldier’s virtue.

A well-researched, affecting account of a world lost in war.


The US Review of Books

The Weekend Warriors
by James W. Burke JR
iUniverse

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

“The earth crumbled and shook, raining large clods of dirt down on her. The roar of the diesel and squeals of the tracks drowned out her screams and sobs. “

The title refers to the oft-used sobriquet for members of National Guard or reserve units whose service, after initial active duty training, generally consists of two-week summer camp deployments and weekend assemblies each month. The nickname is frequently used to denigrate reserve or guard troops as something less than real soldiers. Burke’s novel attempts to counter such thinking. He fictionalizes a Russian attempt to seize territory by making a preemptive strike into Germany. NATO forces react quickly and the United States mobilizes reserve and National Guard units to support the full time military in dealing with the Soviet incursion. The story is personalized by focusing on a reserve officer who is called to active duty and rapidly deployed overseas. Readers share the heartache of separation experienced by the officer and his family. However, there is little time for sentimentality as the tale quickly moves to a shooting war in Europe.

Logistics, strategy, tactics, and more are realistically depicted as the Americans engage a sophisticated and highly motivated enemy. Scenes of combat vividly portray the fear, cowardice, courage, and heroism that are part of every armed conflict. The author pulls no punches in depicting the awful things that can happen to the human body during mechanized warfare. Burke’s prose is concise and confident, particularly when addressing the milieu soldiers operate in and the minutia they have to deal with. The interpersonal relationships he creates between his characters are both compelling and convincing. For those who like novels with endings that tie up all the loose ends, this finale may feel a bit abrupt and perhaps unfinished. Others however, may view it as a reminder that the cessation of hostilities does not always clarify victory or defeat.


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by Simon Barrett in All News, Book Reviews, Reviews

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


San Francisco Book Review

Reviewed By: Stacia Levy

The story setting is the 1980s, the Cold War dragging to a close. However, it’s not over yet. The Soviet Union is increasingly engaging with NATO countries, Russian planes invading U.S. airspace and moving into an unprepared peacetime Germany. The Americans have had enough, and family man Mike Fitzmaurice of Boston finds himself mobilized overnight. He commands a unit headed for Germany, a group of civilians who trained but never really expected to go to war. They are “weekend warriors,” forced to pull together limited resources and face battle against a professional Russian military hardened by years of war in Afghanistan.

One of the strongest parts of this novel is the battle scenes, which move from the grand scale of an airstrike and then into the intimate point of view of the soldiers on the ground scrambling to learn their trade on the fly. They rise to the occasion in such scenes as a corporate executive finding a use for her Russian language skills. Just as strong are the personal relationships that develop between characters whose lives depend on each other. In a subplot, Fitzmaurice’s wife Elizabeth, a surgeon in Boston, finds herself treating Mike’s fallen comrades. Some parts of the book could use attention, such as the frequent use of unfamiliar military jargon. I interpreted this language by context as much as possible and then when finished with the novel found the glossary in the back. A better way to handle such terminology is to incorporate the definition in the text itself, through interior and exterior dialogue, rather than the reader constantly referring to a glossary and being taken out of the story. The story doesn’t grab interest initially, as the first scenes are told from an omniscient narrator or through memos and announcements—at times the narrator seems to be the announcement itself. However, once the story moves into Michael Fitzmaurice’s point of view, the reader is hooked in the desire to find out if this weekend warrior and his rag-tag team will prevail.