October 4, 2016

BOOK OF THE MONTH: BLACK WIDOW BITCHES BY VICTOR CASS



Women who stepped up
Were measured as citizens
Of the nation, not as women…
This was a people’s war,
And everyone was in it.
---Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
First Director of the Women’s Army Corps, WWII



Golden Foothills Press
This quote from more than 60 years ago is so apropos today.  Women have always had a role in wars, but usually behind the scenes in medical units or where they weren’t at risk of being captured.  But earlier this year, women were finally approved for combat duty, specifically in the infantry, which is why Victor Cass’ new novel seems to be pulled right from the headlines, and maybe a little prophetic too.

BLACKWIDOW BITCHES is a political thriller about the first all-female combat infantry unit of paratroopers; Not only soldiers but airborne soldiers!

Be warned! This is a big book—846 pages!—about terrorism and war.  It’s raw, horrific, with “blood-soaked” images of war. There are also race issues, gang issues, bullying, hazing, etc. Doesn’t matter that this book is about a female troop; we are talking war and nothing is pretty.

However, the female soldiers of BLACK WIDOW BITCHES are heroic. You have the Latina West Point grad; an African-American Chicago socialite; a mousy ultra-religious White girl; and a dirt-poor hick running away from an abusive dad.  This “fearsome foursome” is the heart of the book. Through them readers will see the transformation of wayward girls to women to warriors. And leading our Black Widow Bitches, is a conflicted and disgraced Latino officer, who agrees to save his career by training them. But he soon learns to value them for their dedication, their tenacity, and their stead-fast courage.

From sea to shining sea and all around the world, our Black Widows will fight and die for justice. The war on terrorism is on and these women are in it.

BLACKWIDOW BITCHES is a real page turner. HReaders will be thrilled with its fast-pace and the authenticity of the dialogue and setting. It helps a lot when the author is a military historian and a veteran police officer. This novel could be real; this could happen; may yet happen. And soon there may be Black Widow Bitches everywhere.  Amen to that!


BOOK SUMMARY:  The current “War on Terrorism” spirals out of control and engulfs much of the globe. Iconic cities and countries have been reduced to smoldering ruins of hopelessness across Europe and much of the free world, as brutal, rampaging terrorists unite across national, ethnic, and political lines to establish a Caliphate and crush millions of innocent resisters.

Opposed to a draft, the U.S. President asks each American family to send one volunteer to fight. A daring woman Army general, Jennifer Reed, proposes a bold move: training women for full-fledged combat in elite, all-women military units. Despite tremendous odds, her plan is grudgingly accepted, and the history-shattering 135th Airborne Division—the “Black Widows”—are born.

But will enough women volunteer? Can the Black Widows stand up to an enemy whose viciousness and brutality has no precedent? And, most important of all, who will train these women to become the hardened warriors they’ll need to be? No self-respecting man, since the rejection of women in combat runs deep in the American military culture.

A convicted criminal—court-martialed Captain Elias Marin, a decorated, airborne infantry war veteran who dared to disobey in battle—steps forward. Having no family and few options, he takes on the task to avoid the shame of imprisonment and to try to redeem himself. Full of doubts and with a history of PTSD-related anxiety attacks, the demoted Second Lieutenant Marin tackles the challenge of preparing the young women for combat…and winning their respect and trust, for they know he was plucked from prison because few other officers wanted to train them.

At once embodying and defying stereotypes, the volunteer women infantry are a motley bunch, who make us laugh, weep, and marvel as they step out of the civilian world and morph from various stages of ability and grit, to unforeseen levels of readiness. They come from all over America in answer to the President’s call. Prime among them are Marin’s “Fearsome Foursome”:

Araceli “Arcie” Martinez, from South El Monte, CA, a grieving Latina whose Marine brother was killed in the war; Janice Moore, a wealthy African-American from Chicago; Perle Floyd, a religious virgin from Spokane, WA; and Laura Smalls, a poor, white girl from Birmingham, AL, with a failed but doting father, and a very abusive romantic relationship. They battle themselves, their private demons, as well as the sexist soldiers who taunt them.

This grippingly realistic novel follows the “Fearsome Foursome” throughout their rigorous training, where Marin, fearless female leaders, and male officers who support their vision, struggle together against inevitable death, incredible odds, and disappointment. From their eventual baptism of fire to even deadlier combat, the women realize they are living on borrowed time. Above all, how will these women reconcile their sense of humanity with the barbarism and horror of war?

Check out this interview with the author, by clicking here.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Victor Cass is the author of the novels Love, Death, and Other War Stories (2005) and Telenovela (2009), which was a "Top 10 Best Reviewed Books" on Living La Vida Latina.com. He is also the author of the nonfiction book, Pasadena Police Department: A Photohistory, 1877-2000 (2001). His poetry has appeared in Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015 and Spectrum 3 Anthology: Love Love Love. His stories, essays, and other nonfiction have appeared in Arroyo Monthly Magazine, Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena Star-News, If & When Literary Journal, Mexican War Journal, and other publications. He lives in Pasadena, CA. Though Victor has never served in the military, he holds a Master of Arts degree in Military History, with a specialty in Land Warfare, from the American Military University in Manassas, VA. He has researched military history as an avocation for over 30 years. Visit him at www.victorcass.com.


READ LATINO!