Public Information

Coming of age during the Korean War
December 5, 2016
Votes: 0
Genre
Audience Adult
Word Count 120-140k (pretty long)

Editing, Production, Marketing & Sales

Edited by David Aretha
Published Through Frogworks Publishing
Displayed & sold at Barnes & Noble
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

The Rundown

Public Information: Coming of Age During the Korean War by Rolf Margenau is the story of Wylie Cypher, a twenty-something infantryman who arrives in war torn Korea in 1952. Wylie is assigned to the Public Information Office, and spends much of his sixteen-month tour writing stories about the war, taking us through the last six months of the conflict and the ten months following.

Public Information is exquisitely written and rich with detail with regard to the Korean war and the lives of the soldiers who fought in it. The battle scenes and interactions of the soldiers are extremely realistic and the myriad of characters that populate the book bring the war to life in a very satisfying way, incorporating both wry and sad observations as well as a nice touch of humor. Margenau fought in the Korean War and this is evident in the degree of realism and background presented. Everything in Public Information has the ring of truth and the details are fascinating.

Told almost in vignette style with wide variety of other colorful characters stepping into the main point of view role throughout the book, for short almost self-contained stories, Wylie is nonetheless the primary character on whom the narrative is focused. All of the characters are well developed with quirks and backstories and Wylie makes for a sympathetic main character with fears and doubts, but moments of heroism as well.

Jumping from character to character allows Margenau to share a wide variety of perspectives on the war, including that of a North Korean combatant and characters engaged more directly in the fighting than Wylie. The style is almost omniscient. This overall approach works, but just, and makes the narrative disjointed at times as we move from one to another character’s story without having a clear plot line to pull us through and keep the reader turning pages. Wylie appears throughout the novel, but there are many other side stories presented as well.

Overall, Public Information is very long, and some of the side stories could have been cut to keep it tighter and more compelling, with greater focus on Wylie’s experiences. It drags a bit in the middle. The stores are all interesting and well presented, but at some point there are just too many of them.


The Recommendation

Public Information was a highly enjoyable, detailed read on the Korean War. It gives the reader a real sense of what it was like in the war with lovable characters to root for and a great feeling of years gone by. History buffs and fans of war fiction will love this novel, but the war scenes are not very graphic and the novel incorporates enough humor to make it accessible for a wider audience. A very solid, albeit long, read.


The Rating Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

4 Stars (out of 5): Recommended. For the right audience, this book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Believable, Characterization, Dialogue, Emotional, Humor, Prose
Cons: Plotline, Slow in Places, Starts slow, Very Long

The Reviewer

Public Information

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.

Reviews:

The Korean War is often forgotten in the overlay of conflict in the twentieth century. “Public Information” is a novel from Rolf Margenau writing of Wylie Cypher, a man whose entry into the military in 1952 finds him ending up in the Korean conflict. As he travels the region, he learns much about the world, the army’s brotherhood, and life. “Public Information” is a fine read well worth considering for historical fiction collections. John Burroughs, Reviewer – Midwest Book Review

“The sense of place he (Margenau) creates is strong and true. He also ably fleshes out his supporting characters and brings the disparate elements of his plot to a satisfactory conclusion.” Publishers Weekly

“Modern Candide. Warm and funny. Veterans and adult readers love it.” The New York Review of Books

 

 

Visit Public Information‘s website.

Author’s Summary

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.

Reviews:

The Korean War is often forgotten in the overlay of conflict in the twentieth century. “Public Information” is a novel from Rolf Margenau writing of Wylie Cypher, a man whose entry into the military in 1952 finds him ending up in the Korean conflict. As he travels the region, he learns much about the world, the army’s brotherhood, and life. “Public Information” is a fine read well worth considering for historical fiction collections. John Burroughs, Reviewer – Midwest Book Review

“The sense of place he (Margenau) creates is strong and true. He also ably fleshes out his supporting characters and brings the disparate elements of his plot to a satisfactory conclusion.” Publishers Weekly

“Modern Candide. Warm and funny. Veterans and adult readers love it.” The New York Review of Books

 

 

Short Description

Second edition of best selling war novel–incorporates veterans’ comments and new historical information. Young man comes of age during bloody combat and aftermath of war. Accurate history, engaging story, the bad and the good, warm and funny.

Catchphrase

CANDIDE meets MASH. Coming of age during the Korean War

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