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Friday, October 20, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman

the jersey brothers

The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home by Sally Mott Freeman
Unabridged, 18 hr. 41 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Cassandra Campbell (Narrator)
May 9, 2017
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Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Received download from the publisher for review

The extraordinary, real-life adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II and their mad race to change history—and save one of their own.

They are three brothers, all Navy men, who end up coincidentally and extraordinarily at the epicenter of three of the war’s most crucial moments. Bill is picked by Roosevelt to run his first Map Room in Washington. Benny is the gunnery and anti-aircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, one of the only carriers to escape Pearl Harbor and by the end of 1942 the last one left in the Pacific to defend against the Japanese. Barton, the youngest and least distinguished of the three, is shuffled off to the Navy Supply Corps because his mother wants him out of harm’s way. But this protection plan backfires when Barton is sent to the Philippines and listed as missing-in-action after a Japanese attack. Now it is up to Bill and Benny to find and rescue him.

Based on ten years of research drawn from archives around the world, interviews with fellow shipmates and POWs, and primary sources including diaries, unpublished memoirs, and letters half-forgotten in basements, The Jersey Brothers is a remarkable story of agony and triumph—from the home front to Roosevelt’s White House, and Pearl Harbor to Midway and Bataan. It is the story, written with intimate, novelistic detail, of an ordinary young man who shows extraordinary courage as the Japanese do everything short of killing him. And it is, above all, a story of brotherly love: of three men finding their loyalty to each other tested under the tortures of war—and knowing that their success or failure to save their youngest brother will shape their family forever.

The war in the Pacific during WWII is something of a new area for me in non-fiction (or fiction for that matter); I have read more widely on the European front of this war. To be honest, I found it harder to connect to because I didn’t know anything about the locations and pretty much only knew about Pearl Harbor. However, when I saw this book, I knew I had to dive into this one. Not only is the cover hauntingly fabulous, but the story of these three brothers encapsulates so many elements of the war that I felt it would give me a thorough indoctrination into the Pacific side of the war. At the same time it is memoir-like in my mind as it was written by the daughter of one of the three brothers from the book. Oh and I forgot to mention that it is narrated by one fabulous narrator who I LOVE – but more on that later!

Throughout The Jersey Brothers we follow Benny, Bill, and Barton through their WWII travails. Bill begins his war time as an aid to President Roosevelt in his Map Room while brings us into the political machination of the war and then later he serves aboard several ships in the Pacific and physically searches for Barton in the Philippines. Benny serves primarily aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, which was involved in MANY major battles in the Pacific arena, and his story brings us right into the heart of an ocean battlefield. Then we have the story of Barton, who was captured as a Prisoner of War when the Philippines fell to the Japanese early in the war. Benny and Bill try everything they can think of to try to find and rescue Barton and their quest gives a physical face to the quest of the many families who sought information about their sons/husbands/relatives that were taken captive in the Pacific field of war.

It is very clear from the earliest pages of the book that either something terrible happens to Barton or that he doesn’t come home; the author discusses how her quest to write this book spun from an overheard family dispute about her uncle Barton. Although I knew that this book would not result in a positive outcome, I kept hoping and hoping that the result would somehow be different. The author made me feel so much for these three brothers and their families. Although this is a story personal to the author it was also able to keep enough distance from the subjects to feel impartial, but still imbue it with heart and passion in every word.

I couldn’t get enough of this book and thoroughly absorbed every word of it.



Cassandra Campbell is a narrator that you should look for when perusing the lists for new audiobooks. I have had the opportunity to listen to her read both fiction and non-fiction titles and she has done it brilliantly each time, although very different. In this circumstance, her voice lends a soothing and respectful tone to the severity of the events transpiring. Another thing that blew me away was her pronunciation of the foreign words and names that are fast and furious in this book; while I may not know if they are correct, they sounded well practiced and added to my impressions of the book. Stellar narration.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

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Find Sally Mott Freeman: Publisher’s Website | Facebook

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Shoot. I should read this. I need a good war book. It has been too long.

    1. I highly recommend!! You should read it if you like WWII.


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