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Set in the U.S territory of Hawaii. 1948. “The Preserve” is based on some true events, includes real-life characters and offers a meaningful take on the dark side of American power in the postwar era. Reading this novel you should be willing to face some grim truths.
This is the sequel to “Under False Flags” which I haven’t read and I surely missed out not having done so. It would have been an asset to have read it in order to better understand where the main character, Wendell Lett, came from and why he ended up in Hawaii. Although the author does make mention of his past he did not elaborate. So now I am curious to read Wendell’s mission in Europe.
According to Mr. Anderson his story is entirely fictional. But it wouldn’t be surprising if a camp like the preserve did exist with its classified psychological drug programs, its clandestine rogue operations, and a place where plots against major figures are made including assassination. “The Preserve” and Wendell Lett brings us deep into the heart of what could have been…..In “The Preserve”, Wendell desperately seeks a cure for his severe combat trauma, he thinks he is in wright place for his salvation…or is he?.... he is not alone…
Seeking a new beginning is Kanani Alana who became a close friend to Wendell. This tough-minded Hawaiian who speaks Hawaiian Pidgin English added local colour to the narrative and a sense of place. Her language is smoothly incorporated and is not overly done. The author has a strong way with prose, slow, pausing at times to let us savour his tale.
Wendell and Kanani although are the main characters they do not play in this drama by themselves. There is a huge cast of characters that crosses their paths. Some names are known such as General Douglas MacArthur and the nefarious US intelligence operative Ed Lansdale and others less familiar but nonetheless important players.
It is not without suspense. When Wendell discovers the true intentions behind the camp, he and Kanani plan a dangerous escape. But can they survive the harsh wilderness of the Big Island?....Their escape is slow moving but what a nail-biting drama we follow. Well-done, it is hard not to root for their success.
Included in this captivating story, is the search for the missing Imperial Japanese fortune that had been plundered throughout Asia during the war. The author also mentioned that with the U.S. military ruling the territory the Hawaiians culture and ways of life changed for ever.
“The Preserve” is an exciting fiction written with elegance.
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2019
It's the period just after the Second World War ended, and Wendell Lett is among the thousands of American soldiers that have deserted the army due to suffering combat fatigue and unable to face more combat. If caught by the U.S. army he faces a long prison period as well as being branded as a traitor. But he is found by Landsdale and Lett's ambitious wartime commanding officer Charlie Selfer and offered a chance to redeem himself by agreeing to take part in a secret plan. The plan involves being sent to "The Preserve" where he will be treated for nightmares and prepared to enter the world of the Preserve whatever that world may be. With nothing to lose Wendell agrees and is sent to the secret location in Hawaii of the Preserve. He begins the treatment and at the same time meets Kanani Alana a young Hawaiian girl also looking for another start. The idea sounds good to both and they jump into their initial phase which for Wendell means a series of shots and discussions with a man he believes is a doctor. But there is a fly in the ointment and Wendell comes to the realization that the Preserve's purpose is to turn him into a cold blooded assassin. Kanani also comes to a conclusion which is unappealing to her. She is to become a honeypot trap for targets of the agency running the preserve. The idea is an excellent one and in the hands of Mr Anderson creates a mesmerizing book and a fascinating read. There is more, though, which the author points out and has been rumored and may have been true. That is that General Douglas MacArthur is behind the Preserve and means to use it to obtain and keep a good share of the plunder taken by the Japanese army from countries they conquered. Mr Anderson touches on the bad blood between MacArthur and president Harry Truman. Such is the enmity between the two that Truman did finally releave MacArthur of his command causing him to resign from the army. The novel is a standalone and a good one, but Mr Anderson had previously published a book about Wendell's adventures during the war and based on the strength and draw of his one could be of more than a passing interest for the reader.
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2019
Wow, what a great story. Steve Anderson has done a superb job with this novel. So many great characters, especially the main character Wendell Lett. He is put through hell and back, but that’s one of the things I enjoyed most about this book, is being put through an emotional roller coaster with the characters. Through Steve’s writing style, I could vividly picture the scenes he was describing, and I quite enjoyed that it’s set in more than one country. Wendell Lett had seen and experienced far too much death during WWII, so much so that he walked away from it before it was finished. Unfortunately, going AWOL during a war was something the US Military didn’t take lightly, so when Wendell decided to hand himself in, they locked him up quick smart. Wendell was lucky that someone decided they could use his set of skills, however it was yet to be seen if he was emotionally ready to deal with anything other than a psychiatric ward. Seeing his dead friends from the battlefield was only part of his problems, he’s keen for his new superiors to deliver on their promises of healing him of his inner daemons. He’s just not sure what they want from him, as guard duty seems a little bit too easy, even if it’s sometimes doing it for the Chief of Staff himself. This is a special book and I would certainly recommend it. 5/5 Star Rating.
Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2019
Steve Anderson’s new book is a post-WWII thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1948. Wendell Lett, war hero turned deserter, seeks treatment for combat trauma at an isolated facility called The Preserve. Instead of a cure for his jangled nerves, he finds himself caught up in an assassination plot that runs all the way to General Douglas MacArthur.
The Preserve is a first-rate historical thriller. It is fast, dark, complicated enough without being ridiculous, with characters and relationships you are interested in, and enough historic facts salted through the narrative to make you ponder long after the last page.
The Preserve is Anderson's second book featuring Wendell Lett, who first appeared in Under False Flags. They can be read as stand-alones, and are even better read back to back.
Sometimes, taking a review quote as gospel, allows the buyer to take a chance. When Publishers Weekly wrote “Readers will root for Wendell, with his unrelenting demons, as he soldiers on, fighting for his sanity and his life.” the thought occurred that perhaps the book was all psychology and not action. Without spoiling the read, the genius of this author is that both run seamlessly here, the psychology furthering the action and yet the action always pushing the psychology of this very damaged soldier coming out of the horrors of WWII Europe, now faced with the evils of man in the Pacific. Always intelligent, ALL TOO believable (sadly), the author takes your hand and leads you through a maelstrom for his hero Wendell and thankfully leaves the reader satisfied and the story complete.
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2019
Oregon author Steve Anderson is a noteworthy young author, a man with history in his veins and wars in his imagination. To date his fourteen published novels have dealt with WW II in the Germany setting and he knows that period and that country well (he as lived in Germany as a Fulbright Fellow and his knowledge of the atmosphere and landscape of that country are evident): he became a translator of German to English books whose focus is on crime and mystery. But Anderson has a richer and more entertaining background than simply a fine historical novelist: he has backpacked into Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall fell, written narrative nonfiction, short stories and screenplays, worked in advertising, marketing, and journalism, and has been a waiter, a language instructor, a freelance copywriter. Full life? Enough to make his canvas for his books well prepared with personal gesso.
Steve wrote UNDER FALSE FLAGS the Prequel to this novel, in 2014 and now continues that exploration of history and war with THE PRESERVE. In the prequel we met American GI Wendell Lett paired with German sailor Holger Frings who were individually assigned the task of impersonating the enemy in order to undermine the tactics on a dangerous mission. The coming together of these two territorially disparate men but war-weary psychologically similar souls was a study in true camaraderie as can only occur in the morally suffocating confines of war. Now the setting is Hawaii, 1948 and as Steve’s fine summary states, ‘Troubled WWII hero turned deserter Wendell Lett desperately seeks a cure to his severe combat trauma (PTSD), and The Preserve seems to be his salvation. Run by Lansdale, a mysterious intelligence officer, and Lett’s ambitious wartime XO Charlie Selfer, the secretive training camp promises relief from the terrors in his mind. Together with Kanani Alana, a tough-minded Hawaiian also looking for a new start at The Preserve, Lett begins to feel hopeful. All illusions are shattered, though, when Lett discovers The Preserve’s true intentions—to rebuild him into a cold-blooded assassin. The deadly conspiracy runs deep, all the way to General Douglas MacArthur, and his refusal to cooperate is met with merciless punishment. His only hope is Kanani and her dangerous escape plan that would grant freedom from The Preserve—if he can hide while surviving the harsh wilderness of the Big Island.’
Steve has a stingingly strong way with prose, pausing at times for a bit of poetic reverie that enhances the bite of the tale. He has the gift as he has proven with his many published novels to date. This is an extraordinarily fine historic drama, based on true events, and enhanced by the author’s flair for exciting fiction. Very highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 19 I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2019
The highly anticipated return of reluctant protagonist Wendell Lett does not disappoint. After desertion from WWII leaves him in Belgium, he unexpectedly pops up halfway across the world in remote Hawaii in a super secret military installation where he yearns for redemption, only to find out he's part of a sinister plot involving none other than General MacArthur! A riveting read, you'll find it hard to put this one down, even when the feeling of claustrophobia hits deep inside the lava tubes on the Big Island. Highly recommend!