The Reluctant Solider by Marine Mellblom is a memoir of the Korean War, the Forgotten War. It is told through the letters from her husband, Neil Mellblom.
The book starts as Neil is shipping out. Through his words, Neil describes an Army which was not prepared for the action which were taking place in Korea. Neil becomes a writer for the Pacific Stars and Stripes in which he was writing stories about the front lines. Although he was writing it from the wire report and not from the thick of battle. Throughout the book, the reader sees Neil’s disappointment with the Army as well as himself. He wants to be a better solider. He struggles that he is not on the frontlines but at the same time he is glad that he isn’t. He is frustrated with the extra treatment the officers get over the non-officers, even in acknowledgement of heroism in battle.
I enjoyed reading this book although I had anticipated a different type of book. However, as I read Neil’s own words as he writes about his experiences during the Korea War opened the war in a new light. To the quick paced but ultimately unpreparedness of the Army, to the worry about his friends who are throughout his country, to his struggles with his own role in the war. The book is also the love story between Neil and Marnie as their letters are exchanged across the miles. Sadly, her letters do not survive today due to a flood that destroyed Neil’s barracks before he came home. The Reluctant Soldier is a great look into the personal side of war rather than the political/strategic side.
The Reluctant Soldier
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $16.95