Honoring Their Legacy

Published Book CoverAlthough Tarnished Brass is a work of fiction, it is based on my memories of the brutal civil war fought in the small Central American country of El Salvador from 1980-1992.

United States involvement in that conflict was principally focused on training support to the Salvadoran military. In a departure from US policy in Vietnam, American military advisers were prohibited from accompanying Salvadoran forces during combat operations. Their role was solely to train the ESAF [El Salvador Armed Forces] and change the way it prosecuted the war. Of course, in spite of these restrictions, the Operations and Training Teams (OPATTs) assigned to Salvadoran Infantry Battalions often found themselves in harms way.

Reports of fighting involving US troops, however, was a closely guarded secret. It would not be until 1996, four years after the peace accords were signed, that the twenty-one American service members killed in El Salvador were finally recognized.

Their headstone in Arlington National Cemetery does not contain their names. It simply states… El Salvador 1981-1992. Blessed are the peacemakers. In sacred memory of those who died to bring hope and peace.

Of course, I was not acquainted with everyone who died in the war, but I did have a personal and professional relationship with one of the deceased. Lieutenant Colonel James M. Basile, US Air Force, served as deputy commander of the US MilGroup, San Salvador. He was killed in a helicopter crash on July 16, 1987, at age forty-three.

Official recognition of his service to country and that of the other twenty individuals helps to heal old wounds. William G. Walker, the former US Ambassador to El Salvador (1988-1992), best phrased that sentiment when he spoke to those assembled at the cemetery — For too long, we have failed to recognize the contributions, the sacrifices, of those who served with distinction under the most dangerous of conditions.

May they all rest in eternal peace.

 

 

 

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished BrassToday is the final day of the Giveaway. If you haven’t yet registered at Rafflecopter for a signed copy of Tarnished Brass and a $25.00 Amazon gift card, be sure to do so by midnight CDT. You could be the winner!

I also recommend that you check out Lone Star Literary Life, the go-to website for all things “bookish” in the State of Texas. Sign up for free to receive the latest literary news. You’ll be introduced to a range of Texas authors and their works, and you’re sure to find your next great read.

Finally, in support of my book or any book that you’ve read and enjoyed, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Reviews are the lifeblood that affect not just book sales, but the craft of writing. Feedback is essential in honing craftsmanship for future projects and authors welcome your comments. I know I do!

 

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished BrassYou have one more day to register at Rafflecopter for the Tarnished Brass Giveaway. The sign-up period closes tomorrow at midnight CDT, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to win a signed copy of the novella and a $25.00 Amazon gift card!

Looking to find out more about the book? For reviews and special features check out the link at Lone Star Literary Life, and while you’re at it subscribe to LSLL for all the literary happenings in the State of Texas. It’s free!

Finally, I’ve been posting the LSBBT reviews in their entirety. Here is the review from Ruthie Jones:

Four Stars

Tarnished Brass by Max L. Knight is a quick novella about the war in El Salvador during the 1980s and early 1990s; however, the bloodshed and brutality continue, even with the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992. Through his extensive research and personal experience in this country during such a volatile time, Max Knight has crafted a unique story that reads more like an informative documentary than a work of fiction. Real-life events and people form a solid foundation for Tarnished Brass, causing readers to either reflect back on their own memories of this time in history or search the internet for more information, including about the scandalous Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan Administration.

In Tarnished Brass, fictional retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Moynihan remembers his time as a US Army Major during the civil war in El Salvador. Everything is different now, yet nothing has changed. Gang violence is still prevalent, and the poor and displaced are still struggling to find a voice and the means and will to survive.

While Tarnished Brass has several fictional characters, the primary focus  is more about the cause and effects of the twelve-year war in El Salvador and its continuing aftermath. Even though these events are delegated to the past, this story is timely in the current political and societal landscape in both Central America and the United States. In only about 100 pages, Max Knight does one amazing job outlining the advent of MS-13 and other gangs during the 1980s and the frightening rise in violence, murder, and civil unrest in El Salvador. For a work of fiction, Tarnished Brass is light on dialogue, but the storytelling is compact, illuminating, and provocative.

Thank you, Max Knight, for shedding some valuable light on a past event that should not be forgotten, ignored, or glossed over. This short work of fiction offers valuable insights on the human condition, the heavy price of greed and power, the disparity and inequality in a beautiful country ravaged by constant war, and the gangs and violence that continue to transition and flourish to this day.

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished BrassOnly two more days remain to sign up with Rafflecopter to win this Giveaway. Are you a fan of Historical Fiction? Is there someone in your family circle or perhaps a friend who is? Tarnished Brass can definitely fill either need. Enjoy it yourself or gift it to someone else during the upcoming holidays. Oh, and there’s also a $25.00 Amazon gift card… this is a win, win! No entry fee or purchase required. Enter today. What’s the saying? “You can’t win it if you’re not in it.”

The book blog tour may be over, but here is the link to the Lone Star Literary Life tour page with direct links to reviews and other special features.

In conjunction with the Giveaway, I’m also re-posting the reviews in their entirety (one everyday.) Here is the review from Leslie Storey:

This novella packs a punch when it comes to covering the war in El Salvador.

While the story is fiction it is based on real events in the 80s into the early 90s.  From the guerrilla warfare, the corrupt governments, and even some human interest when it comes to refugees, this book shines a light on an event most of us probably weren’t even aware of – assuming you are old enough to remember that time period!

I was enthralled with this story as events unfolded and gave us a picture of what this country looked like in the 80s.  I felt like the author did an outstanding job of sharing facts of this war along with military terminology so that I felt like I might have been there as an observer.  But at the same time, some of these stories were heartbreaking when it came to those escaping to the USA for a chance at a better life, yet not finding one.  Or the young boy that turned to gangs to fill a void that he felt needed to be filled.  Or the priests in the Catholic Church that lose their life because they dare to stand up to the factions.  Patrick, who is in the US military, gets too close to the situation and luckily escapes before his luck runs out.

War is brutal and I cannot imagine living in a country that is torn apart by mercenaries or guerrillas on a daily basis.  When reading a book like this it makes me appreciate what I have and where I live even more.  Thank you to Max for sharing his knowledge and experiences with us in this book.

We give this 5 paws up.

 

 

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished Brass

There are only three days remaining to sign up with Rafflecopter for a chance to win the Giveaway for my latest book Tarnished Brass. Get involved… it doesn’t cost you anything and you just might the one to receive a signed copy of the novella and a $25.00 Amazon gift card. So don’t delay. Time is running out!

In conjunction with the Giveaway I’m re-posting reviews (one everyday in their entirety) from the recent book blog tour at Lone Star Literary Life. Here is the review by Christena Stephens:

 

 

Five-Stars

“No matter the good intentions of the participants, wars were never fought cleanly. Ideals are both noble and peaceful, but in their actual execute, wars are sordid and violent.”

Did you know a civil war occurred in the small country of El Salvador from 1980 to 1992? I came by my knowledge of this civil war while working on a historical research project. I had visited St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The Prioress and other nuns had gone on a Pilgrimage Commemoration to El Salvador in 2011.  An archbishop had been assassinated and nuns were raped and murdered. Photos and first-hand accounts are how I came to know about the war from the Prioress. The nuns still consider that war as a war mainly against women.

Max L. Knight’s book, Tarnished Brass, vividly and succinctly explores the twelve-year El Salvador civil war in a fictional novella narrative woven around actual events. Max writes about this civil war from perspectives from both the U.S. military side, El Salvador citizens, and El Salvador military. The war story is encapsulated enough with the variety of character viewpoints that you get what the civil war did to its people during the war and the aftermath of that war. As a reader, you are also reminded about the Iran-Contra scandal surrounding Major Oliver North. Tarnished Brass also brilliantly alludes to the violence against women in select chapters that Max writes about regarding Diana, Nidia, and Maria.

You get the sense through Max’s writing that deep-down, El Salvador at its heart is a beautiful country. It is just torn apart by the corruptness and greed of those who either want power or are in power. Another harsh reality is that no matter how much money the U.S. sank into the small country it did not help El Salvador’s citizens but it helped El Salvador’s military.

Tarnished Brass packs a lot within a small volume that will give readers insights into this war, the political atmosphere, and the aftermath of this war. Now I understand more clearly the courage of the four nuns from Fort Smith to journey to El Salvador. Tarnished Brass is a good reminder that even the smallest of wars have their long-lasting impacts and should be remembered, written about, and most importantly read about to remind us of our collective history.

As a side note… Have you been to a country where armed guards stood outside the doors of buildings as you entered? I have and it was quite disconcerting at first. I soon realized that the guards were there for my and other’s protection. Tarnished Brass brought back intense memories towards the end of this book of my time in a small country. Now I understand in my naivety that there is more than one country that has armed security details at businesses to protect their citizens.

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished BrassThere are only four days remaining to sign up with Rafflecopter to win the Giveaway for my latest book Tarnished Brass. Although I certainly hope that you’ll buy a copy of the book, there is no purchase necessary to enter for a chance at winning a signed copy of the novella and a $25.00 Amazon gift card. So don’t delay. Sign up today!

In conjunction with the Giveaway I’m re-posting reviews (one everyday in their entirety) from the recent book blog tour at Lone Star Literary Life. Here is the review by Ariel Hess:

Five-Stars

This historical novella focuses on El Salvador’s Civil War from 1980 to 1992 due to a disparity of wealth between the ruling oligarchy. The novella begins with Retired US Army Lieutenant Patrick Michael Moynihan thirty years after the end of the Civil War. Patrick is reflecting on his time and involvement in the El Salvador Civil War and the outcomes that arose because of it. He also reflects on the state of the small country currently, noting changes, constants, and the effects of the war that are still prominent. The small country occupants outside the royal family had been subjected to a lifestyle similar to indentured servitude where they did not have necessities such as clean water.

The author dives into the components of this war in a way that allows the reader to be captured from the beginning. He tells the story of the Civil War from the perspective of a retired Army Lieutenant, a guerrilla leader, and a refugee. Of all the perspectives the one that was the most impactful was the one of Antonio Cruz. Who immigrated to the US from El Salvador after the passing of his Father. He and his mother immigrated to the US assuming it would be better but their journey was anything but easy. Antonio’s life changed after moving to the US leading to the beginning of a prominent gang that is still popular today, MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha).

I was completely entranced from the moment I started reading this historical fiction novel. I greatly enjoyed the amount of detail and explanation used. I could tell the author did his research. Knight uses foreshadowing to explain key components of the war throughout this novella. He explains the constant social issues associated with a county in war with itself. I studied History during my undergraduate career and this book was both interesting and informative. The material flows well and the stories transition in a way that allows the reader to be involved. The author connects each character during the development process by continuing to build on the existing story.

I highly recommend this novel for anyone interested in a quick historical novella.

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished BrassToday has been a quiet day following the conclusion of my recent book blog tour with Lone Star Literary Life. However, though the tour has ended, the Giveaway continues. If you have not already done so, register at Rafflecopter.com for a chance at winning. Unlike most raffles, there is no ticket to buy or donation required. Just sign up. You might be the lucky winner!

The Giveaway will run today through November 7th, but don’t delay. Sign up now!

Each day to its conclusion, I’m re-posting the book reviews in their entirety. Here is the review from Kristine Hall that kicked off the tour:

Four Stars

Tarnished Brass is a novella that comes in at around a hundred pages of story, but author Max L. Knight fits in an incredible amount of information. The book not only informs readers about events of the past, it also reminds readers of the far-reaching effects of war, even decades later, even across oceans.

While I was happily navigating high school and college through the eighties, like most kids in that stage of life, I was oblivious to what was happening in El Salvador (and most of the world outside my bubble). I lived a safe and privileged life while El Salvador lost the decade as a war-torn country plagued by fighting factions – one of them aided by funding, training, and weapons courtesy of the United States.

The archbishop urgently petitioned those in power to alter course.

“In the name of God and this suffering population, whose cries reach to the heavens more tumultuous each day…cease the repression.”

His words were met by a sniper’s bullet to the heart.

Many of the chapters in Tarnished Brass are filled primarily with historical information that gives readers facts about the political and military climate and the war’s ever-worsening impact on the Salvadorans. The only pause in El Salvador’s war was when an earthquake interrupted it and displaced hundreds of thousands of people who were already suffering. Knight does a good job of keeping the plight of the poor as a constant thread running through all the chapters. The poor never win in war — or in times of peace. The strength of the book is in Knight’s world-building: the poverty, the destruction, the darkness of El Salvador.

Tarnished Brass is well-written and cleanly edited, and its contents are engaging. The structure of the book is unique, vacillating between storytelling and fact-telling. There are chapters that give readers insight into the lives of the three main characters, but none of the characters are ever fully fleshed-out or given much depth. (The exception was a chapter dedicated to the psychological profile of a side-character, Diana, which was profoundly sad and fascinating.) There are other chapters in which the purpose is solely to inform, and only a few sentences, either at the beginning or the end, tie in one of the story’s characters to the scene. The story of Tarnished Brass is the war; the characters within are somewhat peripheral but do serve to soften the edges of what could easily convert to a nonfiction piece.

I was most appreciative that the author not only included a glossary of military terminology, but he tells readers first thing that it’s at the back of the book. (I never think to look first.) While it is most helpful for those of us not in-the-know, the book is still full of military acronyms and jargon that are defined once and used often – and I found myself flipping back to figure out what was what and who was who. Those who are students of history and politics and military ops won’t have any issues and will probably enjoy that the book has a more factual, less fictional slant.

As a more informed, but still ridiculously under-informed adult, reading Tarnished Brass helped me tie current headlines to the past. It was particularly interesting to learn the origins of MS-13, the now international criminal gang that started as a group to protect Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles. Following character Antonio’s grim but realistic story was eye-opening and the most powerful of the stories in Tarnished Brass. It was in Antonio’s story that I saw glimpses of Knight’s storytelling and characterization prowess that he showed in Palo Duro.

Tarnished Brass educates readers of not only an important piece of world history, but also the impact of the United States’s foreign policy, then and now. Intelligently written, Tarnished Brass is a quick way to get informed while also fulfilling a reader’s need to escape into fiction.