Reviewed by William Moran

Could anything be more moving or inspiring than that of patriotic fervor? In His Stead by Judith Sanders makes a most compelling argument. In His Stead examines one Pennsylvanian family’s sacrifices involving several generations of foreign wars and their attempts to lessen the increasing cost. The personal, collective loss and potential horrors of war are never far from the mind of the reader or characters throughout this story.

The main character Thomas Lane is a hard working, blue collar sort of fellow. He is patriotic to a fault and understands duty and sacrifice better than most. He is a hard working retired Army Ranger and remains committed to providing for his family with the same values he possessed as a professional soldier all while battling with Post Traumatic Stress. A loving husband, father and close friend to all who know him, Thomas is faced with the loss of his eldest son Tommy in Afghanistan.

The loss of his eldest son strains Tom’s beliefs and relationship with his youngest son (Donnie) who is coming of age. Donnie is not necessarily a delinquent by most standards, but ends up having several brushes with the law. Getting Donnie on the right track seems easy enough with a college opportunity and service in the Pennsylvania National Guard agreed on by the courts. Thomas feels secure in knowing that his remaining son has a chance at life until he is faced with the possibility of losing Donnie to an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

Thomas’s best friend, co-worker, and old Army buddy and neighbor Frank happens to watch a two hour History Channel program about the Civil War and an old common law practice of sending others (namely slaves) to fight in one’s stead. Outlandish as it sounds, Tom enlists the help of another old Army buddy who happens to be a high profile lawyer to investigate the possibility. Encouraged by the findings, Tom proceeds to convince his family to allow him the opportunity to serve in Donnie’s place. His fight has only just begun with battling middle age, the United States Army, and its JAG corps. Thomas Lane is successful in his endeavor deploying in his son’s place, saving Donnie from the horrors of war and the ultimate sacrifice.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone. I originally expected to find a hero of epic proportions, but instead found a character that far exceeds that notion. In His Stead is written with a descriptiveness that builds intimacy between unassuming characters and illustrates the cost of war. This book captures the thoughts and emotions of those who are willing to risk their lives and mental health in the dim of battle for the safety and security of their fellow man.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

William is currently building on his experiences as a former paratrooper and correctional officer by pursuing a B.S. in Criminal Justice and Criminology. He is a poet, published writer and lesser-known artist who also values the written word as artistic expression.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Media Connect. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.