In His Stead by Judith Sanders Book Review

Although I read a lot of different books, most of the books I read about war tend to be about the Civil war.  I guess it is because I am a huge Historical fiction freak.  I was asked to do a book review about In His Stead which is a fiction book about war, the war in Afghanistan.

Written by Judith Sanders, In His Stead, explores the tension, devastation, strength, and love of service families during wartime through the story of one man, Retired Army Ranger Thomas Lane, as he attempts to make the greatest sacrifice for his son.  Lane once burned for the taste of gunpowder and thrill of the battle. But as he struggles to cope with his own PTSD and the death of his eldest son who was killed by an IED in Afghanistan, Lane learns that the price of war is far too dear. Now the National Guard is calling on Lane’s youngest son to serve. Consumed with sorrow, Lane knows he will do anything to save his child—even if it means going in his place.  In His Stead follows the tumultuous battle of Thomas Lane as he navigates the United States Army, its JAG corps, a vengeful officer, the very son he is desperate to save, and his own wife, who has the Solomon like choice of losing either a husband or a son. Capturing the essence of family life in wartime—the good, the bad, and the hopeful—In His Stead explores what it means to be a father and a man.

Judith Sanders received her BS from Graceland College and worked as a registered nurse for many years, including serving the military as a nurse in Maryland and Texas. Sanders, a mother of three boys, now makes writing her full time career and divides her time between her homes in New Hampshire and North Carolina.

I was also able to ask Judith a couple of questions.  Here is what she had to say:

What made you want to become a writer?

Julie, my decision to write came after a long journey. I worked as a nurse for many years and in multiple settings (surgery, hospice, psych), my own life’s “arc” took me from poverty growing up after WWII to motherhood at an early age and then prosperity through hard work & help from those around me. The people I met, their fears, concerns, anguish, and joys all became part of me. I have always loved to read and had read some wonderful (and some not so wonderful) books. Somehow, what I saw and liked in other writers, the stories that were roaming around inside my head, and having time to sit and dream drove me to write. Since I first put pen to paper I haven’t been able to stop. BUT, getting the thoughts on paper is one thing, taking the time and finding experts to provide critical reviews and having the courage to accept criticism and incorporate that criticism into my writing was yet another challenge. I hope it’s paid off in this novel.

What made you want to write this kind of book?

As to my motivation for In His Stead, the writing began because of the heart felt concerns of my nephew about a choice his own son was making about joining the military. You can read in the foreword of the final printing of my novel. I also have three sons. Their choices, both good and bad, their age, education, temper tantrums, have never dimmed my love and desire to protect them. The characters are all unique yet pieces of people I have know are salt, giving them flavor. And there is a message that we need to think about the price war takes on the young men and women we send to fight to protect our freedom.

My thoughts on the book:

I have to say this is a really interesting story.  I really felt for the family right away because they had lost their older son in the war.  After going through that and then knowing their other son would have to go, well I can’t even imagine.  I can see why the Father would try to do anything to keep his son safe.  I think the reason he was able to go in his stead was because he had been in the Army before, he knew what it took and he knew what he had to do.  It wouldn’t have worked at all if he didn’t have that background.  Throughout the book you really get a sense of Tom’s love for his son.  There is no question about it.  The book also brought up feelings about war, if it is worth it or not.  Things I think about a lot being the wife of a soldier.  It is hard to know what the right thing to do is.  Especially when it gets hard and you hear of so many people losing their lives.  This is an emotional book, especially for someone like me who does have a husband in the Military.

You can visit the In His Stead website to order your own copy!

* I was provided a copy of this book for review.

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2 thoughts on “In His Stead by Judith Sanders Book Review”

  1. I like to read stories about war as well. I think what I love most about it is that there is usually a hero in all of us, and war can bring that out. This book sounds like a good one. Thanks for the review. If you like Civil War stories, I just finished a really good one called, ” Up From Corinth: Book 2 of Journey Into Darkness” by author J. Arthur Moore. Duane Kinkade enters the Civil War at Shiloh in search of his father, but finds the mind-numbing chaos of battle, fear, the loss of a friend, and his own wounding; leading to an unexpected new and deep friendship in the other army as he is cared for after the battle.

  2. First, thank you Julie for your service and sacrifice to our nation.
    I know Judith Sanders as we collaborated on her first novel, “Crescent Veil”, a political fiction thriller about missing WMDs and a rogue terrorist. And I was asked to review “In His Stead” twice along it’s way to publication. Several things stand out for me in this book. First, I know that Judith loves research and the details in “In His Stead” are accurate through extensive interviews with soldiers (returned veterans and those getting ready to deploy). Second, Judith has a special talent for characters, making them as complex, conflicted, and uncertain of their future as any of us in real life. Lastly, Judith has enormous respect for our service men and women and the families that support them and give them up to protect the rest of us. I can see where current military families might prefer their fiction about other topics than the war in Afghanistan, but for the other 99% out there who haven’t made that sacrifice, this book is an outstanding commentary that should make them pay a bit more attention to those who sacrifice for our freedom and safety. And as for great Civil War books, try Amanda Foreman’s “World on Fire”, written from the perspective of the British who were tempted to enter into the war on behalf of the South.

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