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Robert A. Mills

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The Better Angels
by Robert A. Mills   


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Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  1st Books Library ISBN-10:  1587213729 Type:  Fiction
Pages: 

433

Copyright:  Aug 17 2002


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Two serendipitous teenagers acquire a military surplus jeep and begin pilfering gasoline from an aircraft carrier at the Norfolk Naval Base; the ship departs while the are aboard; discovered and sent home in a Navy fighter/bomber, which accidentally encounters the enemy, they are invited by President Roosevelt to the Biltmore Estate prior to an Allied Summit meeting, where they uncover and thwart a Nazi assassination plot

In 1943 U.S. military surplus/reject Jeeps were being auctioned off at various bases, and young Marty Eden and his pal, Lamont Cranston (the latter known among his peers as "Shadow") go to all extremes -prevarication, chicanery, even thievery - to acquire one. At any cost. The two soon learn that owning a $50 vehicle is one thing - securing highly-rationed gasoline to operate it is quite another. Posing as the Norfolk Navy Base's oft-absent commander's son and nephew, Marty and Shadow are befriended by a sympathetic shore patrolman who invites them aboard the aircraft carrier USS James Madison (about to go to sea), ostensibly to say goodbye to their "father" and "uncle", while surreptiously arranging for them to continue pilfering free gasoline from the base's motor pool. In a series of nerve-wracking but challenging circumstances, the two civilians do not leave the ship before sailing, and they later have to be sent home as "passengers" in a Navy fighter/bomber that inadvertently encounters an enemy submarine and becomes embroiled in devastating combat. Subsequently, these events lead to an invitation from President and Mrs. Roosevelt to join them during the Thanksgiving holidays at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC - as a media diversion to "smoke screen" an Allied pre-Summit meeting. While at Biltmore, the two accidental heroes uncover (with the help of Marty's mentor, the lovely, exotic, and perspicasious Anna Theresa Tortoretti) an elaborate plot by Nazi infiltrators to assassinate the President and his domestic and foreign entourage of world and military leaders - including Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. Anna Theresa is the prism through which the laser beam of Marty's undeniable talent and development is focused. She enters his life at the critical moment when ambition and manhood are wallowing in the mud-wrestle of desire, ability, and maturity. Their relationship dissolves the mucilage that binds the boy to the man.    




Excerpt

In 1943 U.S. military surplus/reject Jeeps were being auctioned off at various bases, and young Marty Eden and his pal, Lamont Cranston (the latter known among his peers as "Shadow") go to all extremes -prevarication, chicanery, even thievery - to acquire one. At any cost. The two soon learn that owning a $50 vehicle is one thing - securing highly-rationed gasoline to operate it is quite another.

Posing as the Norfolk Navy Base's oft-absent commander's son and nephew, Marty and Shadow are befriended by a sympathetic shore patrolman who invites them aboard the aircraft carrier USS James Madison (about to go to sea), ostensibly to say goodbye to their "father" and "uncle", while surreptiously arranging for them to continue pilfering free gasoline from the base's motor pool.

In a series of nerve-wracking but challenging circumstances, the two civilians do not leave the ship before sailing, and they later have to be sent home as "passengers" in a Navy fighter/bomber that inadvertently encounters an enemy submarine and becomes embroiled in devastating combat.

Subsequently, these events lead to an invitation from President and Mrs. Roosevelt to join them during the Thanksgiving holidays at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC - as a media diversion to "smoke screen" an Allied pre-Summit meeting.

While at Biltmore, the two accidental heroes uncover (with the help of Marty's mentor, the lovely, exotic, and perspicasious Anna Theresa Tortoretti) an elaborate plot by Nazi infiltrators to assassinate the President and his domestic and foreign entourage of world and military leaders - including Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.

Anna Theresa is the prism through which the laser beam of Marty's undeniable talent and development is focused. She enters his life at the critical moment when ambition and manhood are wallowing in the mud-wrestle of desire, ability, and maturity. Their relationship dissolves the mucilage that binds the boy to the man.


Professional Reviews
THE BETTER ANGELS
A Review by Gregory Landry







When someone writes a novel about "life in the South", I am usually a little suspicious. Southern writers tend to emulate other Southern writers, and what results is often a badly produced B-movie of "Pat Conroy Meets William Faulkner At A Sunday Tea Hosted By Carson McCuller For Flannery O'Conner" starring James Dickey!



And then once every twenty years or so along comes something like THE BETTER ANGELS.



This debut novel, played out in Norfolk, Virginia, and Asheville, NC, could have been written about practically any two young American boys chomping at the bit to get into World War II, but these two (Marty Eden and Lamont (Shadow) Cranston) are as unique to the South of 1943 as could be found. Unique, and yet as common and ordinary as red clay.



This is one great adventure story that keeps you on the edge of your pages. Lost and stowing away aboard an aircraft carrier; hitching a ride home in a Navy fighter/bomber; engaging and sinking a German sub; landing a battered and pilotless plane; being entertained by the President of the United States; and then foiling a German plot to assassinate the chief executive! Fiction? Fantasy? Lord, I don't know!



Robert A. Mills is a first class, master writer of suspense, drama, comedy and historical happenstance that rings with the clarity of truth, but leaves you with a tug at the base of your brain that says, "Wow! How could it be? I want to believe it, but . . ."



Prose like this rarely seeps out of the word processors of today's writers.



THE BETTER ANGELS is going to make one doosie of a movie!


THE BETTER ANGELS
A Review of Bob Spear, Heartland Review







The Better Angels is an exciting coming of age novel set in the Virginia Tidewater region during the height of the WWII buildup in 1943. It reads rather like a combination of Spin and Marty meets 'American Graffiti' during the war years. In this case, the characters are Shadow and Marty. The protagonist, Marty, is a budding young author still in high school and mentored by the town librarian. Shadow, so nick named because his real name, Lamont Cranston, is the same as the popular radio show crime fighter of that era, is the wild and crazy sidekick. Both boys stow away on an aircraft carrier, are returned to shore via a Navy Avenger aircraft that encounters a Nazi sub along the way. It's surprisingly belieavable, but they end up saving FDRís life in the famous Biltmore Estate.



The action in this book screams along. The settings are well done and the dialog is both humorous and authentic (with phonetic translations of the tidewater dialect along the way). The thought processes of untried young men stepping into sexuality and the violence of war is wondrously rendered. The changes the characters go through are momentous and unexpected, yet they make sense within the storyís context. This is one exciting read! We rated it 5 Hearts.





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Books by
Robert A. Mills



The Better Angels

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