“LEAD FOLLO-UP STRATEGIES” by STEPHEN DEDalus is a powerful tale of politics, intrigue, and personal character development. Although not a fast read, it was a story I wanted to write. As a military spouse, whose career was on the decline due to an inability to win wars, I had always felt a sense of reluctance to admit defeat. But, in this book, Bloom realizes that although he may be past his prime, he has much to offer the American people if only he would let go of some of his stubbornness and become more pragmatic. This is a valuable lesson for today’s military spouses, who know full well how hard it can be to retrain and reintegrate once a military spouse has been deployed.
In LEAD FOLLO-UP STRATEGIES, Bloom takes a more personal look at military service than he has in previous books. Although he covers the political arena, much of the book is devoted to his family, especially his daughter. It is here that Bloom displays his ability to connect with people on a personal level, which goes a long way in writing effective fiction. It is amazing to me that in all of his many books, Bloom never once mentions his daughter, Ariel. It shows just how much his character, and the story he is telling, is influenced by personal feelings and memories of his own parents.
In terms of plot, this novel isn’t much more complex than any other. There is the familiar backdrop of a war that is tearing through Europe, with major powers vie for control of the region. A young man from California leads a ragtag group of men into battle, where they struggle against the merciless terrorists and German soldiers. Finally, despite their initial success, they are betrayed, attacked again, and driven into hiding. With the help of a friend from their former unit, Bloom is able to escape, and return to America, where his fight against the war spills over into personal relationships. Although I felt that there were several missing aspects, such as the integration of race relations, I liked this novel enough to recommend it to others.