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Reviews (by Author)

Reviews (by Title)


Title:  I Hear No Bugles

Author:  Robert Winston Mercy

Publisher:  Merriam Press

Reviewer: Marc Yablonka – AAA Member

John Wayne, throughout his illustrious film career, was admired for portraying on celluloid the kind of soldier, sailor, or Marine that an entire nation could look up to in multiple times of war. He was the embodiment of the American fighting spirit. However, actor Robert W. Mercy (most notably of the early 1960's TV series Combat! in which, ironically, he portrayed a German SS officer) absorbed himself in the war films of his youth and the message telegraphed from the Duke's and other actors' movies, and turned them into a true and valiant military career.

In his action-filled, informative book I Hear No Bugles (Merriam Press, Bennington, VT: 2008), Mercy details how, amazingly, he was able to join the New York National Guard at the age of 13, then the U.S. Marine Corps, and eventually the U.S. Army's 11th Airborne Division, where he served in the Occupation Forces in Japan. During the Korean War, he led an all-Asian assault platoon, earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Presidential Unit Citation.

In I Hear No Bugles, Mercy succeeds splendidly at the soldier-writer's mission to record what it is really like to be in combat as the bullets are whizzing by and bombs exploding around you:

"An LMG (Light Machine Gun) burst flew overhead, which could have come from the farmhouse 100 yards past the intersection,” he writes. “I raced to a jeep-mounted machine gun. The driver, face down in the drainage ditch, called out, `For Christ's sake, don't shoot! You'll draw more fire!'

"I burned off half the belt toward the unseen gunner. You stupid bastard, that's what were here for!” he yelled at the driver. “I thought of the Nam River farmer and the crying baby I'd driven out into the bitter cold of Sinuiju...Innocent people could be in there...but where else can the gun be? The firing stopped."

In spite of the real soldiering Mercy did, his childhood grounding in the cinema that would soon beckon him onto the screen himself was never far behind him in the foxholes of Korea.

"I plunged my bayonet into the ground beside me and set two clips of ammo across my numbing thighs. With pistol in hand I waited and heard the whispers of the Chinese in the trench. Without my rifle, the unthinkable crossed my mind: maybe they'll take prisoners."..."This is my destiny. I was meant to die right here where I've always imagined I would"..."I've got 22 rounds for the pistol, I wonder how many I'll get before I'm bayoneted, like Robert Taylor in the film Bataan.'"

In the epilogue of the book, Mercy, who earned a Bachelor’s degree from the noted Vermont-based military academy Norwich University, and a Masters from New York University, solidifies the relationship between the silver screen that led him into the military as a youth and his own career in uniform when he tips a reverent field cap, or perhaps a helmet, "to the millions of others who my own private movie.

“Last but not least, I salute the `chroniclers of our times,’ the movies! For it was in the Paradise of Film that I had taken the first metaphorical bite of knowledge that led me to a military path in search of idealism and glory."

I Hear No Bugles (hardcover ISBN #978-1-4357-1706-0, paperback ISBN #978-4357-1704-6) is worth every bit the read of its 436 pages.

Winner of the 2008 American Authors Association's Silver Quill Award!



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