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The War Comes to Plum Street brings to life the Second World War through the eyes of a small group of neighbors from a Midwestern town. Bruce C. Smith presents their stories just as they happened, without explanation or interpretation. To experience the war as they did, insofar as it is possible, we must understand how they perceived everyday events and recognize the incompleteness of their knowledge of what was taking place in Europe and the Pacific. The inhabitants of Plum Street in New Castle, Indiana, resemble many other average Americans of their day. As we discover how they experienced those fateful years, these Americans may have something to teach us about how we live in our own turbulent time.

Small town - big story, September 8, 2005 Reviewer: Julie C. "Julie" (Phoenix, AZ)

The first thing I noticed was the amazing detail Bruce Smith provides of every day life in New Castle during the 1940s. These meticulous snapshots of times past make you wonder how he could "see" events and scenes that occurred before he was born. And then, he expands his visual descriptions to include disturbing world events and their impact on Plum Street residents with such clarity that you begin to feel strongly about the lives of the people in this small community because they were so affected by world changes that they could not forsee, control, or want in their lives.

Dr. Smith tells the story of four sisters (a different set of "little women") and the harsh reality of growing up during WW2. Many aspects of his story-telling made the events come alive for me as I read the accounts. From the beginning, life was hard for these girls and they endured many, many traumas before they grew up -- but they were not alone in their suffering. As I read each line, I actually felt the frustration of rationing, the fear of dreaded messages from the war department, and the joy of brief but passionate moments that newlyweds treasured before each separation, fearful that they may never see each other again. I felt the drama and came away with a new appreciation for this generation whether they struggled at home or away from home.

I have heard many of these episodes before because one of the four sisters happens to be my mother, Maxine. But what was so meaningful to me was how it felt as I read these incidents in context of world events. I kept wondering how I would have reacted and the choices I would have made if this had been my experience instead of my mother's.

The description of my grandmother's first labor was so agonizing that for a brief moment I almost wanted her to give up and find peace -- but then I realized who this woman was and that if she gave up, I wouldn't be here to read the book! For me to be that swept up in the story is a testament to the author and his ability to engage the reader with emotion and interest.

Again, I am amazed at the detail, descriptions, and history that he wove into the fabric of this narrative. It was almost as if he actually lived during this time himself. I believe he was able to capture all of this because of his evident passion for history and his love for his immediate and extended family.

Dr. Smith, you have honored our family and preserved our personal history with dignity and craftmanship. I loved the book! Thank you for your wonderful gift to us!

Only $29.95 + $5.00 s&h