THE UVALDE RAIDER
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Publication Date: April 17, 2021
Pages: 229 Pages
The time is the eve of the First Gulf War. The place an abandoned World War II emergency landing strip for heavy bombers, nestled amid the near countless miles upon miles of wide openness in West Texas.
Here a climactic battle will be fought, while the rest of the world focuses on what would become known as Operation Desert Storm.
But in some ways, the stakes here are even higher as men from other places and past conflicts gamble all that they are, and all they ever were, to prevent a catastrophic terrorist attack unthinkable before on an American city.
One group seeks wholesale slaughter, the murder of helpless civilians on a massive scale. The other strives to stop this evil in any way possible, and by whatever means necessary.
The key to either side’s success or failure?
One old Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, an enduring symbol from another war and ensuing catastrophe of a different era. This relic of a not so distant past is named ‘The Uvalde Raider,’ and this is its story…
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Clueless Gent’s Rating for The Uvalde Raider
After carefully and slowly reading The Uvalde Raider, I can say with certainty that it is one of the best stories I have ever read.
I think anyone would enjoy and appreciate this story, but it should be required reading for young adults in our country.
Upon reading this fine tale, anyone who has ever put on a uniform that could put them in harm’s way will likely feel emotions way down deep that few others ever experience. Maybe that’s why I feel so connected to this story. Maybe that’s why I’ll never forget it. Maybe that’s why I could so easily put faces on the main characters.
The story centers on an off-duty Texas Highway Patrolman, his uncle and his uncle’s longtime friend. In the course of traveling to attend an airshow of World Way II aircraft, they get caught up in a terrorist plan of historic proportion. (The story takes place before September 11, 2001.) Being held as prisoners by the terrorists, and then being told about their plan, the trio is the only hope of preventing a civilian death count in the hundred of thousands. Worse, however, is the fact that the chance of them preventing the tragedy is somewhere between slim and dismal.
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle…”
— Psalm 144:1
The three members of the trio are, of course, our protagonists. The terrorists – the antagonists. However, only three of the terrorists play significant roles.
Almost all of the action – not including backstory – takes place during a single 24-hour period. But then, there is the backstory. The author includes backstory on all of the main characters – protagonist and antagonist alike. We discover how they have become the people they are today, and how they have all arrived at this one location on this one fateful day. I would love to tell you more about the backstory, because some of them are very grand, but I will save that for your reading pleasure.
The pacing in this story is quite odd – at least it was to me. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. In the first half of the book, the author jumps between the last minute preparations of the terrorists, the incessant waiting of the three hostages, and backstory. Thus, the pacing alternates between fast and slow. Fast during the backstory, and slow during the preparations.
The climax begins about midway through the book, and then time all but stops. If this story were a motion picture, and least half of the climax would be in slow motion – probably more than half. For an author to do this in a book, and still keep the reader highly engaged and sitting on the edge of their seat, is quite remarkable. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it, from a pacing standpoint.
I didn’t think of this while I was reading – I was too engrossed – but by slowing the climax down, the author was able to show us the reasoning that went into split second decisions. By doing so, the author further personified the heroism and evil that fully clashed during the climax.
This author’s description is always on point. Consider how he described the personality of one character: “The man’s brows peaked in fierce assertion, and his eyes were flared wide and glowing with something beyond mere mortal malfeasance. His was the countenance of evil personified, an evil driven by something beyond the tangible realm.”
“Hope and faith, patience and prayer. Most every man who has ever accomplished anything worthwhile understood the paramount importance of those words.”
As a retired Marine, this story has additional interest and meaning for me. For example, there is a point where the Marine Corps emblem is being described. Rather than just saying the eagle, globe and anchor, the author added the lesser-known detail of it being a “fouled” anchor. This is true. The fouled anchor is meant to show that Marines, although a part of the Navy, are not sailors. There are a few other little details like that sparsely included in the story. I cherished every one of them.
This story is fiction – thank God – but the levels of sacrifice and valor and ultimate patriotism are not fictional. They exist. They exist in our armed forces and our peace officers, as well as anyone else who has a duty to protect and defend our citizens and/or the nation.
I think it was fairly easy for author Ben H. English to include these values because I believe he grew up with them. From what I know, I think the author is pretty modest about his background and accomplishments, but he certainly did not hold back in putting an array of “emotional fuzzies” between the lines in this novel.
I wish I could tell you the entire story, because it’s a very good story. Any story that brings about the emotions in me this one did is one fine story. I truly hope you read it.
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