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Book Review: ELCO: Follow the Men of Love Company by Leslie Brudvig

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ELCO: Follow the Men of Love Company begins in the trenches of war during World War II and introduces you to a motley crew of men in the “L” Company. As you meet each of the characters, some main characters and some not—though all important in their own way—you realize that war is handled differently by different people. We all have our ways to cope with death around us, and although wartime—though winding down—goes on for the men, they still have sense of completion; they feel the need to finish the job until they’re told otherwise.

Pranks, wisecracks, and the response to the death that surrounds each character differ depending upon personality. One is determined to leave with tons of silver coins confiscated from a “Jap Camp” they raided, certain to become rich with the end of the war. One can find a way to get just about anything you can imagine—the deal is you just pay the price and don’t ask how. The characters are shared in detail with the reader, giving you the opportunity to truly know each one as if you were truly there meeting them. As the war ends though, much like many war buddies, the men go about their own ways but always seem to keep in touch at some point. Ultimately, however, the  they decide they will become a corporation called ELCO, named after their military unit “L Company,” and utilize their friendships to create an organization to disperse literally millions of dollars to various charities.

In the narrative of ELCO, it’s interesting to follow the lives of some of the men as they move on to civilian life and become everything from a U.S. Senator to a crime lord. You’re led into the boardroom with one of the men who made his fortune from Wall Street to the unscrupulous behind the scenes of one of them who became a Porn King. Not wanting to give away who becomes what in ‘civie’ life, I’ll leave names out but the story is intriguing and touching as well. It’s hard to believe that these same men that kept their hard core exterior during the war realized how important it was to take their benefits in life to help others in the world. You’re touched with their stories, amazed by their paths in life chosen and never left without feeling a tug at your heart that this big burly group of men who made it in the war wanted to honor their company and those from their company that didn’t come home alive by become charitable beyond dreams.

It’s an amazing story that truly takes you from the trenches of battle, hearing the fear in the voices of the same men who later in life strive to be some of the most powerful men in the world. It is heart-wrenching, touching, and definitely written with such talent that you walk away from the last page yearning for more.

The author’s ability to create characters so true to life and so realistic in war gives you a feeling he speaks from experience — and he does. Having been a rifleman in WWII you feel as though, while the book is fiction, the characters are a lot like those he created a bond with himself during the war. It’s amazing that out of war comes such a wonderful thing as the bonds of friendship and determination to do well for so many others. ELCO is a must read book for anyone, but if you’re a not a typical reader of war stories I still strongly suggest this as a great read. While the beginning does focus on the men and their time at war, it’s at the end of the war and you truly bond with each person as an individual. It’s not written in horrid, gory fashion and doesn’t disgust you but instead brings you to become a part of “L” Company or “Love” Company as they complete their mission and move on in life. It truly is unlike any war story turned Cinderella story I’ve ever read because of that fact. Most think they need to be very gruesome, and know the intricate details of the war; but the reality is we know war isn’t pretty and we don’t necessarily need or want those specifics.

When we read a book like this we know how horrible the war aspect is and, yes, it is touched on by the author but not the focus of the book. The focus is the organization created later when this group of extraordinary men come together to make a difference in the world. ELCO is going to bring your mind to a point of realizing that while war is horrible, some people can actually make something beautiful come out of it in their friendships and their determination that continues from the battlefield to the job back home.

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About Michel Violante