When Wars Were Won
A First Novel

by Hugh Aaron

ISBN 1-882521-02-1, 270 pages, Softcover
List price $16.00

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The Story:
After forty years, Hal Arnold, a professor of English, returns to the Philippines yearning for the unity, spirit and optimism he knew as a 19-year-old member of a Seabee battalion in the South Pacific theater during World War II. Trying to recapture that experience, he writes this story, vividly portraying members of the battalion who impacted his life.

Two in particular - Barry Fortune, an irrepressible entrepreneur, and Roger "Billiard Ball" Billiard, a philosphical, cynical college professor are at opposite poles in their attitudes toward life and their feelings toward their country. They are Hal's mentors, and despite their faults, his heroes. Proud of being an American, yet disillusioned with most of his compatriots whose deeds are often less than admirable in winning the war, Hal searches for his own identity. He finds it in the warm, rich culture of a small Filipino village where love and dignity thrive among a people who have suffered under the Japanese yoke.


"This powerfully poignant and sensitive novel reveals the loss of innocence and coming of age of our youth in the Pacific theater of World War II. Strong imagery, forceful narrative and colorfully believable characters combine to grip the reader through war's uncertainty, humor and stark reality. Not a war novel; rather it is a tribute to the men and women who endure war...a moving and emotional story of friendship, love, despair and triumph of the spirit. This is such a compelling story that, once read, you will want it to be real."
William D. Bushnell, Reviewer for Publishers Weekly

"Like a virtuoso jazz soloist, when the author is building a scene, he lets you know it. His interpretation of language and situation proves tender, humorous, horrifying by turns, each confrontation - with character or circumstance - played out to its absurd effect, grotesque conclusion, or romantic climax. Irony abounds..episodic in sweep, compelling in detail, and well nigh inexhaustible in variety. Writing a review for a book like this, one is inclined to put on everything except the brakes, because superlatives flow easily. It is a great dramatic story of a man's desperate yearnings, acute aspirations, and bitter frustrations in the throes of a world's calamity in war. Someone should mark the intensity level in this book, because its emotional rivers run so deep that the reader experiences the bends coming out of it.
Ramon de Rosas, English Department Chair, Reviewer for Maine in Print


Comments from Readers:
I enjoyed When Wars Were Won very much, especially your colorful characterization and way of imbuing a scene with vivid description and energy...it's very visual and easy to "see" as a film...definitely a literary treat.
Marisa D'Vari, Boston, MA

I have just completed When Wars Were Won, and I must say it is one of the most interesting and exciting books I have ever read.
Milton McCord, Seabee, Dallas, TX

I found it difficult to lay the book down.
Edward J. Goss, Seabee, Amston, CT

I wish to let you know how much my entire family enjoyed both Letters from the Good War and When Wars Were Won. I especially enjoyed the novel. Not only was it a pleasure to read, but since I passed it along through three generations of family, I had the added enjoyment of discussing it with them. I've learned there's a Barry Fortune in every outfit and got to hear some Navy stories I'd never heard before. I didn't think that was possible. It was very moving and it was because of your books. Thank you for that.
Coleen Marsh, Belfast, ME

Just read your book When Wars Were Won. Congratulations. I could not put the book down. You were very descriptive, a captivating way of writing. One wanted to read chapter after chapter with riveted attention as one's interest increased. You brought out so many truths, some good, some bad like it is. Thankyou for giving me the opportunity to enjoy a GOOD book. So many lack erudition and interest. I do hope you'll write more novels and give a lot of pleasure to many readers.
Oleg Tupine, Falls Church, VA

I would probably never have picked up When Wars Were Won since my reading time is limited and neither the Seabees nor the South Pacific theater in WWII were included in my "must read" topics/interests. Therefore, I must confess that I was surprised when I didn't want to put down WWWW as the hour got late each evening. Of course, you are a wonderfully sensitive writer, therefore the setting, the war, the era are less important than the people you bring to life and the details of their relationships that you share with the reader. In spite of myself, I did become interested in the role of the Seabees and I did come to appreciate the impact of the war on peoples all around the world...Hal Arnold is a memorable young man and you should be very proud of your creation.
Alice Dashiell, Clinton, MD

Comments from Reviewers:
Try Hugh Aaron's When Wars Were Won, a novel to put alongside the best sellers on the subject of World War II, a book sometimes hauntingly direct in its pictures. This is no glorification of a time now gilded by memory, no postcard from the past...it remembers for us whose generations it portrays - warts and all.
Marilis Hornidge, The Courier-Gazette, Rockland, ME

Hugh Aaron has written a World War II novel so realistic that it reads more like fact than fiction. Drawing upon his own 30 months of service in the Seabees, the author composed a wartime tale that will strike a reminiscent chord with any man or woman who ever wore an American uniform. Unlike the majority of military novels, which for the most part feature gallant heroes leading their troops into action, When Wars Were Won tells it like it is - and was.

True, there is action, there are fatalities, there is suffering and there are heroes, but there are also the tedious, monotonous routine, the foul-ups, the sexual encounters, the inedible food and incredible orders that veterans will remember as dominating their time in service.

Add When Wars Were Won to the list of must-read books and be pleased it was written by a former Cape Codder.
Zel Levin, The Cape Codder, Orleans, MA

From the Author:
This novel stands in stark contrast to the Vietnam experience. It portrays a world where violence was rational and men had a sense of mission. It recaptures how life used to be.



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