Book reviews provide a summary of the book’s content, evaluate the value of the book, and recommend it to other readers. It increases the chances of gaining readers as well as increasing the visibility of the book. The more the book has a positive review, the more it gathers attention. And the US Review of Books is one of the US-based contemporary book review publications run by professional reviewers and editors. They analyze every qualifying book that is released without regard for the work’s author or publisher.
The US Review of Books (USRB) reviewed Colonel Vaughan Witten’s book, “The Journey: Appalachia to Paradise to Purgatory,” which was praised by Barbara Bamberger Scott after it was diligently reviewed. She emphasizes that “Witten persists, having created this lengthy work over several years, drawing on and including materials ranging from historical documents to endearing family photographs. The information offered covers specific background on the Coal Wars in West Virginia and geographical and sociological data about countries such as Iceland, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and others where he served or lived for varying periods.”
Witten’s book is an autobiography about the innocence, happiness, and ultimate disappointment of a West Virginia coal miner’s son who sees his country on the verge of immorality and cultural destruction as he progresses from the coal fields to the military and the highest levels of academia.
Colonel Vaughan Witten was born on February 18, 1935, in Anawalt, West Virginia, in McDowell County, a small coal mining town of about 2000 people. He was born in Martinsville, Virginia, to Arlene Walker Witten and Alphonso Witten, a coal miner and Baptist minister from Anawalt, West Virginia, who died in 2000 and 1991, respectively.
He graduated at the age of 15 from Washington High School in London, West Virginia. He joined the Air Force when he was 17 years old and served for 27 years, during which he was deployed in different European, Asian, and American countries. He rose to the highest enlisted level rank, Command Master Sergeant, and received an award of the Bronze Star. Furthermore, Dr. Witten earned two BA degrees from Shaw University and North Carolina State University, as well as a Ph.D. in psychology from North Carolina State in 1989. After leaving the Air Force, he spent 34 years as a professor of psychology and sociology at Park College, Webster University, and Shaw University.
Now, he is completely retired and spends his time in the mountains of Appalachia, which is what the book is about. His episodic journey provides the thrill, wonder, joy, pain, and appreciation of his life in Appalachia—a virtual paradise on earth provided by God, family, and America—and finally the despair of a virtual Purgatory in a declining, immoral, decadent culture that he sees devolving before his eyes in America.
“The Journey: Appalachia to Paradise to Purgatory” reveals a liberating journey and appreciation of his country while at the same time experiencing the slow decay of the American culture and values that he knew as a young man. His fascinating story was supported by historical documents, endearing family photographs, and collected newspaper articles, which Barbara Bamberger Scott highlighted in the review.
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