BOOK REVIEW: ‘Stories in Uniform’: Reminding Readers of The Outstanding War Writing That’s Appeared in Reader’s Digest Magazine

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Stories in Uniform': Reminding Readers The Outstanding  War Writing That's Appeared in Reader's Digest Magazine
Memorial Day is  just ahead and Reader’s Digest Association has just published   “Stories in Uniform: A Look at the Heroics, Laughs, Sorrows, and Tragedies of Our Soldiers”  by the Editors of Readers Digest (Reader’s Digest Association, New York, 224 pages, $15.99). If you’re old enough, as is the reviewer, you’ll be reminded of the high quality of war reporting by such luminaries as Corey Ford, Malcolm McConnell, Lowell Thomas and many more that appeared in the magazine and now in this collection. 

Carl T.  Rowan, an African-American and distinguished columnist at The Washington Post (1925-2000), writes about the acceptance he found in the segregated Navy during World War II in his moving “Those Navy Boys Changed My Life.” The story may remind readers of the Jackie Robinson one now portrayed on the big screen in the wonderful flick “42.”   Rowan writes how he was called to the dean’s office at the “all-Negro”  Tennnessee State College in Nashville in 1943 and was told that “we have a chance to help crack the ban on Negro officers in the Navy.” Rowan took a competitive exam, passed it and became an officer in the Navy, the most segregated service branch, one that had considered blacks suitable for mess service or in the most dirty tasks. The story of “George”, a mixed race Korean infant who was informally adopted by the crew of a ship pending the completion of the formalities of adoption will grab your heart — no matter how hard hearted it is.

B.T. Collins’s tribute to his commanding officer in Vietnam, Capt. Samuel R. Bird, “The Courage of Sam Bird” is as good a piece of writing of any kind I’ve seen anywhere, without a single unnecessary word, guaranteeing misty eyes or even tears when you finish it.


Beginning with World War I and continuing through the war in Iraq, readers will follow soldiers into the trenches, peer in on emergency surgery taking place in the depths of the ocean, watch heroes carry the bodies of fallen brethren, trail Eisenhower’s “Circus Wagon” mobile headquarters for the three days leading up to D-Day, and be inspired as men and women rise above and beyond normal human limits to preserve our rights and save their friends.

Select stories include:

• A moving memorial to D-Day
• A pilot rescued after his F-16 is shot down
• A soldier returns to the front after losing his foot in action
• An American soldier who takes a big risk to save a dying Afghan girl

As a journalist who stands up and cheers when he sees good writing, I was impressed with this collection. It’s the kind of book you’ll take along on trips, to remind youself of the best of American men and women in wartime.   
About Reader’s Digest Association
RDA is a global media and direct marketing company that educates, entertains and connects more than 130 million consumers around the world with products and services from trusted brands. With offices in 43 countries, the company reaches customers in 78 countries, publishes 91 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader’s Digest, the world’s largest-circulation magazine, operates 78 branded websites and sells 40 million books, music and video products across the world each year. Further information about the company can be found at

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