Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite Tour of Duty by William H Coles is set in France, in the tumultuous 1960s at the onset of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and conflict in Vietnam at the height of the Cold War. The story unravels as physician Miles Ballard, inducted to serve in the US Air Force, arrives for his tour of duty at the US Air Station in Châteauroux. He is met at the airport by Ingrid Stern who works for development as a paid guide for newcomers and is also a US Air Force doctor’s wife. What follows is a close look at the lives of American servicemen and their families as they cope with living in a hostile atmosphere and deal with the bureaucracy of military life.

William H Coles’ Tour of Duty explores the life of Miles Ballard who has to set aside his desire for further training as a surgeon when he is drafted by the US military at a time when nuclear war threatens to explode between Russia and the United States. He will meet many different characters here that will give readers an interesting picture of life at the base. Well researched and easy to read, the story gives us a realistic glimpse of life in a US Airbase in France, from the point of view of the draftees and their families. The plot is well structured with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. The book also deals with some aftermath of the explosive atrocities of the Second World War and it is a highly engrossing read!

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty is a work of fiction in the historical and realistic drama subgenres and it is a standalone work. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by William H. Coles. In his new novel, this prolific author brings life in the 1960s to full living color, focusing heavily on France and its experiences during the Cold War. American Air Force physician Miles Ballard takes a central role as he follows his path to surgical qualifications, and Ingrid, the wife of Miles’s best friend, seeks out long-lost relatives in the horrifying aftermath of the Holocaust. What results is a tale of many paths crossing and how resilient the human spirit must be against clashes of culture and morality.

Having read many works by William H. Coles before, I knew I would get a very detailed, highly atmospheric, and deeply committed novel that sought to bring a powerful message forward. I was thoroughly rewarded by this fascinating story and its unique setting, the likes of which I’d never even considered before. Coles has a knack for delivering cultural sensibilities and tensions in a way that never feels gimmicky, and he presents realistic drama that hits deep in the reader’s heart, but never with any unnecessary fanfare or staged drama. As a result, Tour of Duty is a powerfully emotive work that balances out its high literary style with dynamic central characters, key emotional scenes, and heartfelt dialogue to tell the tale of a country in crisis, and the outsiders who have to survive there.

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is a historical novel set in post-war France in the 60s, principally on an American airbase, part of Europe’s defensive strategies against the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union. Miles Ballard was a newly graduated doctor, drafted into the United States Air Force and posted to the Châteauroux Air Base in France. He immediately struggles with the strict military protocol and the apparent clash between the physicians’ commitment to do what is best for their patients and the military’s focus on budgets and discipline. After befriending a fellow doctor, Oliver, he discovers in Oliver’s wife, Ingrid, a common interest in art, French culture, and history. Miles, though, struggles to make romantic connections with anyone in France, still suffering from the recent rejection by his fiancée whose aristocratic and old-money Boston family determined that he was simply not of good enough stock for them, let alone a suitable husband for their daughter. Determined to do his best for his patients, Miles constantly finds himself at odds with the hospital administrator Colonel Springer whose bad temper and arrogant, misogynistic behavior were in direct conflict with Miles’s beliefs of patient care first and foremost. We follow Miles’s adventures in France as he tries to fit into a country and a culture, where, as an American military officer, he often seems despised and unwanted.

Tour of Duty is a deeply character-driven book that gives us an insight into the conditions and attitudes of post-WWII Europe. Author William H. Coles has done a good job of creating an eclectic web of characters and relationships who often feel trapped in a foreign land and unable to adapt to the culture and the animosity frequently aimed at them. I was surprised, that for the Americans on the airbase, many turned inward and sought solace amongst themselves, rather than experiencing the different and exciting cultural opportunities that Western Europe had to offer. For many of the dependants of military personnel, the harsh reality was often loneliness and isolation which led to disproportionate occurrences of 3 suicide, especially among military wives. I was pleased the author expanded on this and included it in Miles’s story. The tensions and fears of living in Western Europe, under the direct threat of imminent nuclear attack by the Soviets during the Cold War, is something that people struggle to understand these days, so I particularly appreciated the author’s touching on this tension and pressure in his narrative. Ultimately, this novel is a literary exploration of cultural mores of the time through the vehicle of relationships and love and also highlights the juxtaposition of military efficiency and expediency against the medical profession’s sworn commitment to their patients. I felt the author did a good job of exploring these two aspects. This is a gentle, enjoyable read and I can recommend it.

Reviewed by Adanna Ora for Readers’ Favorite

During the Cold War and with the prospect of a nuclear attack, Miles Ballard, an American medical officer who also works in the army, travels to France for training. He is forced to work with an unreasonable and narrow-minded superior and serve as the general’s doctor, a role that other people avoid for strange reasons. He instantly makes friends with Oliver and Ingrid, who is Oliver’s wife. The biggest obstacle Miles faces is choosing between upholding 2 the army’s highly regarded hierarchy system and acting morally. Due to this ambivalence, he frequently gets into difficulty and finds himself in challenging circumstances. As if this weren’t enough, Miles begins to feel strongly attracted to Ingrid, the wife of his best friend, who appears to feel the same way. Read Williams H. Coles’ book, Tour of Duty, to learn more about Miles Ballard’s life.

Tour of Duty is a historical novel that depicts the bureaucratic nature of the American army, even in opposition to moral precepts, in the years following the Holocaust and during the Cold War. It also explores the protagonists’ passion for the arts, music, and religion. Themes in Tour of Duty include love, goodness, sacrifice, passion, pride, and regret. These themes significantly contribute to the lessons we learn in life. Tour of Duty teaches us how to handle challenging circumstances and never to lose who we are only to appease or impress others. Tour of Duty also addresses the negative aspects of families and how to spot manipulation. Toxicity in marriage is also very effectively illustrated. This is an excellent piece by William H. Coles.

Reviewed by Kayleigh Perumal for Readers’ Favorite

William H. Coles is a realistic novel set in France during the 1940s. Miles Ballard is the charming young protagonist sent to work as a doctor in the air force. Honest, hardworking, and ambitious, Miles is liked by everyone he meets, except his superior, Colonel Barney Springer, who makes life difficult for Miles. Springer refuses to support any of Miles’s projects and continuously berates him for taking the initiative. He misinterprets Miles’s honesty and desire to do the right thing as insubordination and punishes him for it. Where Miles is ethical and kind, Springer is unscrupulous and callous. Miles also befriends Oliver and Ingrid Stern, with whom he shares many dinners and memories. From ski trips to art and French lessons, Miles’s time in France is life-changing, and the people he meets along the way leave a lasting impression.

William H. Coles uses the aftermath of the Second World War as the historical backdrop for Tour of Duty. He does not overlook the racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and atrocities that plagued European society during this time but instead weaves these themes together to enhance and aid the story’s plausibility. The dialogue is vibrant and assists in carving out the characters’ personalities. Coles should also be commended for his portrayal of the female characters in the novel. Ingrid, Alyce, Belinda-Mae, and Agnes stand out because of their depth and individual storylines. Gripping and unpredictable, anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a touch of romance will find this an uplifting read.

Reviewed by Iza Grek for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is a historical novel set in France in the 1960s. Central character Miles Ballard arrives at the US Air Force base and soon gets a taste of the French hostility towards Americans. Nevertheless, his work as a physician is all-consuming as he attends to not only General Thomas Read but many who seek his medical expertise. Miles’s life is interwoven with the other military doctor, Oliver Stern, and his wife Ingrid who is writing a book about the Holocaust. The general’s daughter, Alyce Read, is a journalist writing about the same topic. Coles’ telling of Miles’s unrequited love for Emily is bittersweet and maintains a strong thread right into later chapters when the woman who shunned him many years ago seeks to reconcile after 20 years of an unhappy marriage, an uncomfortable mirror to Ingrid who admits to being unhappy in her marriage. This is just one of the many examples of Cole’s strong story-telling ability.

William H. Coles writes with a lovely spread of rich dialogue and colorful narrative that effortlessly moves the story along. As well as literary, Coles’s work is also educational. I had not heard of the Milice, a paramilitary organization set up in France, and found this to be an interesting piece of history. His characters are quite believable and add to the contextual authenticity of the story. Coles’s knack for overlaying historical facts with a fictional narrative makes it easy for the reader to consume. I found Tour of Duty most enjoyable and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty by William H Coles is an outstanding literary historical work set during the Cold War, in post-war France. In 1960, Miles Ballard is inducted to serve in the US Air Force. He arrives in France and immediately becomes aware of the French hostility to Americans. Miles’s hope of providing patients with proper care is hindered by military bureaucracy and an antagonistic boss. His social circle includes Oliver, a fellow military doctor, and his wife, Ingrid, who is researching the Holocaust and plans to write a book about it. He becomes acquainted with Alyce Read, the daughter of a general who Miles is assigned to care for. Alyce is a journalist who is investigating the war and plans to document the atrocities committed.

William H Coles writes with a keen historical sense, bringing the setting to life through his precise descriptions of life in France during the 1960s. The characters he creates are not just ordinary figures but realistic, compelling people with authentic stories and emotional depth. I was consistently immersed in the story and found the subplots unique and captivating. I also found the dialogues entertaining. Many scenes were genuinely surprising and the story’s end was rewarding. The book is also enlightening as it delves into France’s history and the events surrounding the war. Tour of Duty by William H Coles is a masterful historical novel written with insight. It is a fine work with extraordinary characters that effectively explores Europe’s prevailing circumstances following WWII. I loved this book. It is captivating and well-written.

Reviewed by Gordon D. Durich for Readers’ Favorite

Americans in France. Not so unusual, or is it? Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is set in 1960s Europe in the Cold War era during a nuclear attack threat. Physician Miles Ballard is serving in the Air Force at US Air Station, Châteauroux, France. Ingrid, the beautiful wife of Ballard’s best friend Oliver Stern, there to locate lost relatives in the Holocaust and ascertain their fates, welcomes Miles. Enter Alyce Read, a New York Herald Tribune writer in France, on assignment to cover the war’s personal devastation. Ballard’s ambitions to serve versus his conflict with his ethics and morals make for hostility. Impeding the doctor’s challenging mission includes confronting the military hospital and his personal demons.

William H. Coles creates a world of historical intrigue in Tour of Duty. As a reader and a writer, I admired his narrative building and development of a darn good story. Written with strong believable characterization and a dialogue-driven plot, Tour of Duty is a perfect Sunday afternoon read. As an American citizen and European born, I loved the exotic backdrop and the culture climate of the period, for example, the reference to all-American “Coke” versus Sancerre Rouge pinot noir wine. I would like to experience more of this writer’s work. Highly descriptive, this novel would translate well into a solid and engaging screenplay. I, for one, would definitely pay to see the film version. Thank you for such a great read.

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty follows a set of characters at a US Air Force base in 1960s France during the Cold War. Written by William H. Coles, the book opens with Miles Ballard, a physician newly drafted into the Air Force who finds himself assigned as the GMO to Brigadier General Thomas Read of the Châteauroux Air Base. After arriving in Châteauroux, Miles soon becomes friends with fellow doctor Oliver Stern and his wife, Ingrid. When the General’s daughter Alyce Read, a journalist, arrives in Châteauroux, she accompanies Ingrid in her research for a book about her family members who suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the occupation. Meanwhile, Miles continues to battle his superiors regarding the treatment of the hospital staff. Over the years, these characters develop a special bond that will last a lifetime.

If you like to immerse yourself in slice-of-life stories, Tour of Duty is the perfect book for you. Author William H. Coles weaves an intricate yarn about a group of individuals from varying backgrounds who cross each other’s paths during the Cold War in the 1960s on an American air base in France. The plot is a slow burn but immensely delicious to consume. Character interactions primarily drive the narrative forward and lay the groundwork to show the inner conflicts and motives of said characters. Miles, Ingrid, Oliver, Alyce, and even Emily form an interesting dynamic, and every scene involving any combination of these characters was a treat to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty, a gripping novel by William H. Coles, is set in France during the 1960s. It is here that Miles Ballard serves as a doctor in the Air Force. Although he becomes the General’s physician, the hospital commander considers any suggestion insubordination. Our hero’s life interweaves with that of other characters as a Jewish woman who seeks information about her family; an ex-girlfriend who would like to reconnect; and a journalist who is the adopted daughter of the General and is not loved by her family. They and others contribute to a great story that takes place in a country where the memory of the Republic of Vichy is still alive and, at the same time, has to face the threats of the Cold War.

Tour of Duty is one of those books where the reader truly feels part of the world the author describes. William H. Coles writes the dialogues between the characters very well so that the reading is pleasant, and the narration of the events is easy to follow. Even though there are many main characters and episodes, the reader never feels overwhelmed and wants to continue reading to discover what will happen next. I do not have a favorite character because everyone is important, but I have to admit that Miles and Ingrid (his Jewish friend) are those who impressed me the most. Tour of Duty is a book that will not disappoint readers looking for a compelling story, and I am sure they, too, will be as enthralled by it as I am.