Thursday, July 1, 2021

Book Blog Tour: The Uvalde Raider (A Templar Family Novel #1) by Ben H. English

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for The Uvalde Raider by Ben H. English. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I have a spotlight of the book as well as a fascinating guest post from the author. Be sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: The Uvalde Raider
Series: A Templar Family Novel #1
Author: Ben H. English
Publication Date: April 17th 2021
Print Length: 229 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The time is the eve of the First Gulf War. The place an abandoned World War II emergency landing strip for heavy bombers, nestled amid the near countless miles upon miles of wide openness in West Texas.

Here a climactic battle will be fought, while the rest of the world focuses on what would become known as Operation Desert Storm.

But in some ways, the stakes here are even higher as men from other places and past conflicts gamble all that they are, and all they ever were, to prevent a catastrophic terrorist attack unthinkable before on an American city.

One group seeks wholesale slaughter, the murder of helpless civilians on a massive scale. The other strives to stop this evil in any way possible, and by whatever means necessary.

The key to either side’s success or failure?

One old Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, an enduring symbol from another war and ensuing catastrophe of a different era. This relic of a not so distant past is named ‘The Uvalde Raider,’ and this is its story…

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Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as an infantry platoon sergeant. Later he worked counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries on four continents.

At Angelo State University he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, patrol procedures and defensive tactics.

After retirement he decided to try his hand at writing. His first effort, Yonderings, was accepted by a university press and garnered some awards. His second, Destiny’s Way, led to a long term, multi book contract.  This was followed by Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend and now his second fictional work, The Uvalde Raider.

His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter, but also the hunted.

Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.

Just as he has done throughout most of his life…

By Author Ben H. English

For historical background, this story takes place in 1990 on the eve of the First Gulf War. The basic scenario was something that came to my mind during those weeks, a decade before the morning of September 11, 2001.

By the time of my retirement from the Texas Highway Patrol in 2008, a very rough first draft was laid out. Later an old friend of mine and someone whom I have a good deal of respect for, Major Stan Waters, THP, was asking what I had been up to as a civilian. I explained the concept for the book and plot surrounding it and sent Stan a short excerpt.

Stan responded almost immediately, first complimenting my effort and then asking a very pertinent question; “Ben, how much of this is actually doable?”

I stated it would have been completely doable, given proper training and timing during the era in which the novel takes place. However, after 9/11 that window of opportunity was drastically reduced due to the ensuing War Against Terror.

Stan was still not quite convinced and questioned if I might be giving the bad guys some good ideas.

I replied: “Stan, if they haven’t already thought of this, then they’re not near as smart as I already know them to be. They only need the right opening to make it happen.”

Though the American public remains blissfully ignorant on such matters, it was well known among various intelligence circles that Saddam Hussein was working on chemical weapons, beginning in the early 1970s. Furthermore, he was to repeatedly use those weapons against the Iranians in the 1980s, as well as the Kurds in the early 1990s, who in actuality were his own citizens.

In the same time frame the Assad regime in Syria was also producing chemical agents such as Sarin, Yperite and the hyper-deadly VX substance highlighted in this novel. Theirs was a far more successful program than Hussein’s. Not that long ago, reliable sources listed Syrian stockpiles as being the third most prolific in the world, by measurement in tons.

To complete this intertwining loop and connect the dots in the abominable triad alluded to in the book, it is also common knowledge that the Iranians worked closely with the Syrians in pursuing these weapon technologies.

The Islamist group Hezbollah has a long history of committing unconscionable acts of terrorism. They first came to prominence in the early 1980s when striking against multinational peacekeeping forces in Lebanon. Their most well-known scheme of those years was the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, which took the lives of 241 U.S. Marines and sailors.

From its inception Hezbollah has depended on Iran for finances, training, and leadership. Again, and as described in this novel, these needs are funneled through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG). In time this relationship has become almost symbiotic and continues on to this day. Whenever Hezbollah makes headlines in yet another heinous crime against humankind, you can just about bet their Iranian benefactors were somehow involved.

As for the many other historical events serving as backdrops to this story, I strongly encourage you, the reader, to do research into whatever sparks your interest. History does repeat itself, mainly due to the unchanging corruptibility and innate wickedness of human nature. A knowledge of history, along with an understanding of those inseparable human vices and frailties, allows one to peer into the future with a certain discernment.

We as a people should become more involved in doing so. It is essential to our basic civic responsibilities in ensuring a stronger, safer nation for future generations of Americans. Just as importantly, it also allows us to pay proper homage to those who gave all their tomorrows for us.

Some of those were the men at the Marine Barracks in Beirut on the morning of October 23, 1983. A lot of good Marines died that day, more than a few whom I knew personally.

Two of them were members of my old counterintelligence team.

One of them took my billet there, the one I was slotted to fill before leaving the Marine Corps after my second hitch.

And yes, there is such a thing as survivor’s guilt.

The first duty is to remember
Click to visit the LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each stop on the tour, updated daily, or visit the blogs directly:

6/28/21 - Review - Reading by Moonlight
6/28/21 - Kick-off Promo - Hall Ways Blog
6/29/21 - BONUS Promo - LSBBT Blog
6/29/21 - Author Interview - The Book's Delight
6/29/21 - Excerpt - StoreyBook Reviews
6/30/21 - Review - Julia Picks 1
6/30/21 - Character Spotlight - Chapter Break Book Blog
7/1/21 - Review - Librariel Book Adventures
7/1/21 - Guest Post - All the Ups and Downs
7/2/21 - Review - The Clueless Gent
7/2/21 - Series Spotlight - Missus Gonzo

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