Book Talk: Hook Up: A Novel of Fort Bragg by William P. Singley
A story about the transformation of young draftees into full-fledged military men is William P. Singley's Hook Up: A Novel of Fort Bragg.
Hook Up tells the story of newly drafted recruits along with a couple of RA's who are thrust into training in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This was a time when the effects of the Korean war are still felt throughout the country, and the Vietnam war is a looming danger on the horizon. The recruits were made up of reluctant draftees along with young men with a thirst for adventure and looking for their purpose. Author, Singley takes us inside the Army and introduces us to the men who aspired to serve their country by becoming paratroopers. First, they must survive training and the demanding officers who are in charge.
History books tell of great men with the dates and places of where said greatness has occurred. We see information on a page and these details often feel so far away, from another world, and can sometimes feel like it never happened. Hookup brings a slice of history closer to the readers, telling a story that is easier to understand and one that resonates even at present. Perhaps it is a different time, but many details that are described in this book are still happening in military training today.
Hookup is a work of fiction, but its characters are based on real people. The language in which they speak and the nuances of each character enables the readers to get to know the soldiers who served in this period closer. It gives us a closer view of their trials, successes, defiance, and loyalty.
For those who were in the military, this story may be nostalgic for their own experiences and remind them of the people they have served with. For non-military folks, it is a rare chance to glimpse into a world within a world to understand some of the experiences of the men in uniform, and to appreciate their struggles and triumphs.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" The cover of the book gives a great description of what the book is about all on its own. Hook Up: A Novel of Fort Bragg by William P. Singley is a fiction although based on actual people and events taking place at Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the 82 Airborne with the time period being between the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The book centers on history and the military/life of the group of main characters when they show up at Fort Bragg hoping to make it as paratroopers.The characters of the book are believable for the most part although I do have a problem believing it all. I would think it was maybe 'exaggerated' at different points but all in all, they were believable. Every group has its quitters, lovers, clowns, bullies, etc. and this one was no different although I didn't find the all-out-and-out cry baby. Even so, the dynamics of the group was very believable as were the individual characters on their own. The author made these men real to me as I read about them. I like some better than others but that didn't matter, the point is they were real and I was able to connect to the point where either I liked them or not.The pace of the book was good although this is a very long novel, over 400 pages. There were parts that seemed to slow a bit and of course other parts that were quick. I guess that just goes with the military way to 'hurry up and wait'. Even so the slow parts were never long and the book always held my attention.Speaking of the military way, much of what went on in the book goes on even to today. If one person does something wrong, everyone pays the price. You are called every name in the book, marched for no reason in full gear, and the list goes on and on but the point is that I can relate to much of it and it doesn't matter if you are stationed at Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Polk, or any of the other Forts, it is all the same.I really enjoyed the story and 'meeting' these men. I especially liked that the author added an Epilogue at the end and wrote a short up-date/out come of each man. Although saddened by some of it, it is a nice touch so the reader knows what happened to each of them instead of the book ending and now we haven't a clue if this one ever made a movie or that one ever stayed in medicine. I also wanted to add that the author added a Glossary at the end of the book so even if you are not familiar with any military terms (although most you can guess what it is/means by the way it is used in the sentence) you can just look it up in the back.I did noticed typos which were mostly spacing issues where two words don't have a space between them but it really didn't take away from the story however the language used may be an issue for some. Not only is there a lot of swearing but the "n" word is used and there is sexual content so I definitely wouldn't recommend this book for young readers."
—Sue in CT, Amazon Reader's Review
" Hilarious, irreverent, irrelevant, racist, profane, vulgar, tragic - all describe the lives of teenage paratroopers in William Singley's "Hook Up," a novel about of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in the late1950s.For those who served at Fort Bragg during that 'spit-polish' era between wars, it is a nostalgic read as one remembers similar characters as those skillfully portrayed by the author. He was there, experiencing the agony of jump school and the thrill of leaping from a high-performance airplane, hoping that a canopy pops open to carry you safely to the ground.Most of the young men were draftees in those days, yet volunteered for the Army's elite only to count the days until their enlistment's ended. There's Patterson, the kid from New Jersey who emerges as the lead character, struggling with maturity and proud to be a private first class. Margolin, the ROTC second lieutenant, is intimidated by everyone older and questions his sanity for joining the paratroops, but somehow excels. Martin, the marionette first sergeant, treats his company as a private fiefdom. The cast goes on. Some you love, some you hate, some you admire, some you wonder how they ever got in the Army, much less the Airborne.The dark side of "Hook Up" illustrates blatant racism in an Army barely ten years into desegregation, alcoholism, drugs, and disregard for individual responsibility.Barracks humor that permeates "Hook Up" may not be for everyone, especially uptight field grades and sergeants major who bristle when anyone tarnishes the image of their beloved 82nd or mothers horrified their precious son was exposed to such antics. They too will chuckle when reminded of life back in the day of the OD uniform, spit-shined boots, and raucous bar hopping along Hay Street and Combat Alley in downtown Fayetteville - before the city cleaned up its image.Singley describes his book as a historical novel. But for those who were there, the situations and attitudes happened. I recommend "Hook Up." All the Way!"
—Joe Epley, Amazon Reader's Review
" Wow!! This book is amazing!! I am a huge history lover! I love all things learning about the Wars & different things like that! This book was right up my alley! I typically don't read books like this, as I tend to be drawn more to Romance Novels, but when I read the synopsis of this book, I couldn't pass it up! This book is set in the 60's. Vietnam hadn't gotten really serious yet & the Korean war was over. The men in this book were stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.With this book, you will learn how the Army of this era trained men when there was no war to fight & how to jump out of airplanes (which is something I REALLY want to do!!!!!) Lieutenant Sy Margolin, became the leader of enlisted soldiers, such as Private Will Patterson & Private Scott Breslin, who were known for challenging military authority the whole way to becoming paratroopers.I would very highly recommend this book! I was completely immersed!"
—Jessica C, Amazon Reader's Review
" This is a book about the army of the 60's. Vietnam hadn't gotten serious yet and Korea was over. This story is about the men, both officers and enlisted that are stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina attempting to make the Army Airborne division. Certainly not today's army."
—AMK, Amazon Reader's Review
Review by Chris Apfel
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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William Singley spent most of 1967 serving as a combat writer/photographer with the First Brigade, 101st Airborne in Vietnam. His stories and photos were published worldwide, and he was awarded a Bronze Star. William's original coverage of two events was the foundation for two Medal of Honor winners. Also, he served in the 82nd Airborne and attended UCLA, where he won the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Literary Award. He holds a master's degree in Southeast Asian Studies and has traveled extensively in Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Currently, he resides close to the ocean in Southern California.