Lucky Stars and Gold Bars: A World War II Odyssey




Thank you Lyle for sharing this wonderful piece of your life with all of us readers. It helps make it real for my generation who feels so removed. I also enjoy the letters as they touch on and share with us the closeness of your family. Your letters are touching to the heart, as they are innocent, naive, yet wholesome and honest - Norman Rockwell in words so to say. Both the narration and words are so visual. I want to finish the book and yet I don't. It is beautiful.
—Rachael Leland, Ventura, CA


Lyle is SO POSITIVE through the whole ordeal. Too bad people today can't act like that or at least try to!! Always taking care of the farm and trying to help other members on the farm, but from afar!! Protecting family members from any perceived "bad news" on the front. It strikes me that maybe Lyle was playing a little possum with these "city" guys he competed against. I think his education after the war is proof of that!!! It seems to me Lyle "hit it out of the park!" What an inspiration for others. Keep it simple, don't brag, but apply yourself. Don't ever sell yourself short. Modeling your life after Lyle's sure wouldn't be a bad thing to do......! What a totally refreshing attitude and total integrity at every turn. Love all the pictures and all the official announcements dropped in too.
—Alan Welch, Maple Valley, WA


Not sure how much I should say here as have not finished your wonderful book. Do not feel that when I do finish the book that I will feel any different. It is just great. This is even better than a memoir and am not sure how your father found the time to write all these letters but it is so much more enjoyable reading his letters than relying on memory. Memory does funny things when trying to recall details that far back
—Phil Bickel, Bloomington, MN


That was a truly great book - IT IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. It was so interesting and just a joy to read. It is so well done. I lived every moment - the waiting for orders - the uncertain destinations etc. My brother is loving it. My daughter feels this book will be a best seller. I wish my husband was here to read it as he would love it also. So many things were so deja vu.
—Ruth Newman, Bakersfield, CA


I just finished reading Lucky Stars and Gold Bars. I could not put it down. It read better than any novel I've ever read. I enjoyed the adventurous romantic lead man in the odyssey. The book is a tribute to the brave men and women of World War II. I hope it receives the recognition it deserves.
—Curt Parkhurst, Appleton, WI


I am thoroughly enjoying the book. Very touching and well written. I had no idea of the broad scope of the book: it is like three books in one - Lyle's letters and perceptions, WWII history and the Sladek family saga. And the way you wove your research into the story is impressive and enlightening. Thank you for the tremendous accomplishment and contribution to future generations that your great book is! It points to the millions of little sacrifices (often overlooked) that also contributed to securing our freedom. The quotations from Roosevelt and Churchill seem so applicable to today's war on terrorism with, once again, our freedom at stake. So I am enjoying the similarities and history lessons and reminders. I am deeply moved by your love and respect and appreciation.
—Lou Novak, Seattle, WA


I am very impressed. I've read about a hundred pages so far. There are times it brings tears to my eyes and I have to stop. It brings back so many memories. And it makes me realize how far we as a society have come since then - and it is not that much for the good. I am appreciating all of the history. Since I was only 10 when the war broke out it didn't impress me so much. If we had had TV etc. I'm sure it would have had more of an impact on me. The only thing I vividly remember is the big black headline telling of FDR's death. Since he was the only president I had known that impressed me. [Later] I have just finished reading your book. I enjoyed every minute - and I learned many things also. I thought the way you ended the book and tied all the ends together was just excellent.
—Wilma Smith, Mesa, AZ


The book was a BIG HIT with my review club, Books in Review. I have and must have my own copy.
—Suezy Proctor, Seattle, WA


I hope the book sells millions so that millions can have the pleasure I've had sharing in your father's wonderful letters.
—John, Bremerton, WA


I looked at "Lucky Stars and Gold Bars" again last evening. Your book is very, very well done. The format is great and the story is woven in beautifully. Many readers don't have the intellectual capacity to discern the finer points or to appreciate the contribution to the history of the WWII era in the United States. But no matter, there is something in the book for everyone and readers can get as much out of it as they can handle.
—Anonymous


What a monumental task. The book has an eye catching cover and the information on the flaps is brilliantly composed as are the parts in the book that I have read.
—Jean Rindels, Gillette, WY


Four people in Borders Book Club were interested in purchasing immediately and two were absent. I donated a copy to the School and Church Library. I am almost finished reading the book and found it very interesting and well written. It is especially meaningful to me because I was from South Dakota. What gifted writers both of you are! Page 128 - What are sinkers?
—June Cameron, Westlake, CA


Compelling story. Well written.
—Susan Barham, Newbury Park, CA


I gave your book to my 82-year-old husband who has been ill and depressed. He couldn't put your book down.
—Anonymous


My husband started reading the book and became engrossed in it so I gave it to him for Father's Day and bought a second copy for myself.
—Anonymous


Fascinating - couldn't put it down.
—Jim Esmay, Thousand Oaks, CA


I wanted to finish my other book first, but today while eating breakfast I thought I'd just take a peek at yours. Everything I read as I flipped through was beautifully written. I can't wait to read it cover to cover.
—Anonymous


I glanced through your book and it looked really good. I was surprised how big it was. One note of particular interest. When I first opened it, it went to a page that had a picture of Harkness tower at Yale. Having grown up in Connecticut, I recognized it immediately. But of particular interest is that my Dad was in the second war and spent quite a bit at Yale. He was in the Navy and served as a radar operator. He said they used to see the Air Corps guys from time to time, doing runs, and exercises, but I don't think they trained together. I have let him borrow the book. I am sure he will enjoy it and it will bring back some memories. [Later] My dad really enjoyed the book.
—Bill Latham, Tacoma, WA


Lyle, when I read that you had a swell meal of fried chicken and rutabagas, it reminded me of a post card that I have which is dated Sept 21, 1941 with a Denver postmark. It states: "Dear Mother and all, Bog, Milton and I got here last night about 9:00 o'clock. This is sure a big place [meaning Denver]. We stayed in a hotel last night [a first for all of us]. We will take our exams tomorrow. Will write more later. Love - the boys." You can relate as to how kids from small towns in South Dakota could see the excitement and what lay ahead for them.
—Bob Smith, Nampa, ID


I just wanted to let you know I have been reading a little of your book each day and enjoying it thoroughly! I can see that it was a huge job, and extremely well done. It's been a real lift to each day to read a few more pages. Thanks so much
—Wanda Ferrin, Simi Valley, CA


I wish I had liked history and geography as a young student as much as I enjoy it now. Your book is so fascinating to read because of all the details of world events during the time of World War II. I am so mindful of how much research and writing, editing, and rewriting that must have gone into the production of such a superior product.
—Dick Rindels, Gillette, WY


Baby Boomers should read this book so that they can get an understanding of that era, what it really was like. We are thinking of buying copies for our children.
—Clarence, CA


Loved the letters. Story that would grab anyone. Here's this skinny, naive kid—goes to bed one night—wakes up the next morning and his whole world is turned upside down. The age of innocence that died.
—John Murray, Seattle, WA


I found the writing style to be relaxed yet informative and entertaining, replete with sufficient detail to create in the reader either a sense of discovery or nostalgia, depending on his or her age and time. My parents, of the World War II generation, read the book as well and were deeply moved by many of the passages which paralleled their own experiences of growing up during the Great Depression and then having their lives shaken up so thoroughly by the upheaval of World War II. I recommend this book to all ages, either as a look back, or as a touching time portal through which younger readers can reach out and share the lives of their parents and grandparents.
—John C. Cohoon, College Instructor of English and History


Got caught up in the story. Good letter writer. Becoming a high-level manager at Alcan due to the circumstances of the war was my lucky stars and gold bars.
—David Ferguson, Bainbridge Island, WA


Interesting to follow a soldier on his way to war. Felt like I knew Lyle when I finished the book.
—Linda Foley, Seattle, WA


A wonderful concept. It is a very interesting look at the life of an American. There is no doubt this book was done with much love, it shows.
—Janice, Seattle, WA


A whole new insight into WWII, a very personal account of a family's odyssey through the living realities of war.
—Craig Woolven, Australia


What an amazing book. The concept is fresh, the writing is crisp and clear, and the production values are of the highest quality. I have recommended this book to friends and co-workers.
—Anonymous


The bookshelves are full of tales of World War II politics, strategies, and battles, but fewer about the millions of people who worked to support the effort--in the United States or on foreign soil; US citizen or citizen of a host nation; soldier or civilian. I thank the author of the letters home, the author of this book, and those around them that supported this stupendous documentary production.
—Anonymous


What an opportunity to peek into the head of a maturing young man! Looking back on his WWII exploits, would Lyle have done anything differently.
—Anonymous


Who would have figured that a (whole) bunch of letters home to the family could contain such engaging commentary? And who would think of weaving the letters with photographs and military papers into a combination of coming-of-age story / history book / family reminiscences / humorous narrative about such an uncertain time in our history? The photographs and military papers add so much.
—Anonymous


It always amazes me that large efforts are ever successful. This book provides a good look at the planning and organization (or lack thereof) involved in fighting a gigantic war on numerous fronts. Considering that desktop computers, cell phones, and today's advances in transportation and production were not available during WWII, it is a wonder that Lyle didn't slip through the cracks somewhere along the way.
—Anonymous


We are glad Lyle wrote the letters, glad that his family saved them, and glad that Karen had the creative vision and personal tenacity to produce such a unique, intriguing, informative, and down-to-earth chronicle.
—Anonymous


Don't miss a golden opportunity nor fail to recognize your lucky star. Get this book--you won't regret a moment spent alongside that character, Lyle.
—Anonymous


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