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Public Information by Rolf Margenau
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Public Information

by Rolf Margenau

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Public Information: Coming of age during the Korean War by Rolf Margenau is a complicated mix of personal memoir and novel.
We follow Wylie, who as a very young man was sent off to fight in the Korean War and Margenau chronicles Wylie's time there through this expansive book. Inspired by his wife having kept 300 letters that Rolf wrote to her in anticipation of their getting married, Margenau has captured the angst and terror of Wylie's experience while at war. Wylie was essentially a public relations officer for the military, but still had his share of interesting experiences. The plot was conveyed well enough, even though the narrative tended to lag in places. Overall, the author has captured his experience quite well, with a good blend of humorous and sad recollections that balance out the story. For lovers of historical fiction, this is an invaluable addition to the genre that covers the Korean War.
  ValeryElias | Mar 30, 2017 |
Public Information by Rolf Margenau follows 22-year-old Wylie Cipher as he finds himself in the midst of the Korean war in 1953. However, instead of having to fight in the front lines, he joins the Public Information Office and begins reporting on actual events. Though he meets so many people throughout his experience – such as Shit Dad and Amelia – at the same time, he remembers that he’s leaving so many others behind.

Before I get started, I just want to say that I am someone who usually doesn’t read historical fiction, so I went into this with a grain of salt. The book turned out to be just as hard to review as I thought it would be. On one hand, I really liked the beginning and the end but on the other, I thought that the kind of lost momentum in the middle. Between the 30% and 60%, I thought the story was a bit slow.

Other than that, I thought the plot was written well. The story was realistic and eye-opening, and I found myself wanting to know even more about what life was like for people involved in war efforts. There was a great blend of humorous and serious moments which I thought added to the realism of the story.

Right off the bat, I thought that Wylie was a really likable character. I liked his charisma and his personality, and I felt like he was easy to connect and relate to. Though the story was carried by the plot, there was a lot of character development for Wylie that really contributed to the coming-of-age theme. How he dealt with grief and love and every other human emotion really brought the story to life. For me, I have to say that my other favorite character was Amelia; though she was introduced a little later in the story, I took a liking to her bright personality straightaway and I thought the author did a fantastic job with the relationship dynamic between her and Wylie.

The writing style was engaging and descriptive throughout. There were a few typos and errors, such as “He strode resolutely to his side and emptying the pot on his left boot” and calling Mai Lee “Mail Lee”, but other than that, I thought the book was fluent and professional.

I really don’t want to give too much away – there’s a lot of depth to this story and it would definitely be the kind that you could reread over and over and find something new every time. Overall, I thought the story was beautiful and allowed me to educate myself on what the “forgotten war” was like. Above all, it was a reminder:

"There’s gonna be more for you to do. There’s gonna be better days. Life goes on."
Wise words from Shit Dad. ( )
  CatherineHsu | Feb 20, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0997615826, Paperback)

CANDIDE meets MASH.
Freshly minted infantryman, twenty-year-old Wylie Cypher, arrives in war torn Korea in 1952. Every indication is that he has limited chances for survival. As an enemy bomber looms overhead, he prays that he can survive a sixteen-month tour of duty without, as his sergeant says, getting his ass shot off.Wylie is recruited to join the staff of a Division Public Information Office (PIO) where he reports on many aspects of the conflict. He uses his infantry training in bloody combat, makes many colorful new friends, learns how to maneuver through the military system, finds love and loss, and grows up in the turmoil of combat and the war's aftermath.Veterans have hailed the story as accurate, believable, touching, funny, and "the way it really was." The story is based on the author's experiences, careful historical research, and the 300 letters he sent his future wife from Korea. He touches on prisoner of war experiences on both sides of the DMZ, the armistice, realistic scenes of combat, the many United Nations forces engaged in the war, and poignant and funny aspects of military service.The second edition of the book includes recently disclosed information, and scenes and observations drawn from the comments of many veteran readers. The book is dedicated to the dwindling number of men and women who risked their lives to preserve democracy in South Korea.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:33:40 -0500)

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