Book Review & Giveaway: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

Publisher: Silver Star (September 21, 2021
Category: Historical Romance, WW2, Family Saga, Based on a True Story
ISBN: 978-0578855288
320 pages

They Called Him Marvin

They were just kids, barely not teenagers, madly in love and wanting to be a family, but WW2 and a B29 got in their way.

Three hundred ten days before Pearl Harbor, buck private Dean Sherman innocently went to church with a new friend in Salt Lake City. From that moment, the unsuspecting soldier travelled a remarkable, heroic path, falling in love, graduating from demanding training to become a B29 pilot, conceiving a son and entering the China, Burma and India theater of the WW2.

He chronicled his story with letters home to his bride Connie that he met on that fateful Sunday, blind to the fact that fifteen hundred seventy five days after their meeting, a Japanese swordsman would end his life.

His crew, a gaggle of Corporals that dubbed themselves the Corporealizes, four officers and a tech Sargent, adventured their way across the globe. Flying the “Aluminum Trail” also called the Hump through the Himalayas, site of the most dangerous flying in the world. Landing in China to refuel and then fly on to places like Manchuria, Rangoon or even the most southern parts of Japan to drop 500 pounders.

Each mission had its challenges, minus fifty degree weather in Mukden, or Japanese fighters firing away at them, a close encounter of the wrong kind, nearly missing a collision with another B29 while flying in clouds, seeing friends downed and lost because of “mechanicals,” the constant threat of running out of fuel and their greatest fear, engine fire.

Transferred to the Mariana Islands, he and his crew were shot down over Nagoya, Japan as part of Mission 174, captured and declared war criminals.

Connie’s letters reveal life for a brand new mother whose husband is declared MIA. The agony for both of them, he in a Japanese prison, declared a war criminal, and she just not knowing why his letters stopped coming.


Guest Review by Sal

“These American boys were rowdy, reckless, full of wonder and curiosity. They sought adventure with bravado, patriotism, and testosterone. They were volunteers to a man. They came to the army in the years before World War II. They didn’t need to wait. Some would become men of oversized destiny, charter members of the “Greatest Generation.”

Over the course of World War II, countless soldiers were taken as prisoners of war by the axis powers and were never able to return home to their families. This is the story of one such soldier, Lt. Dean Sherman– a pilot, a father and a husband.

Sherman married the love of his life Constance ‘Connie’ Baldwin when the two were just teenagers, only a small handful of months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What, at any other time in history, might have been a simple love story between two young people was complicated by the war.

Soon after the two were married, and Connie realized that she was pregnant, Dean was sent overseas to pilot a B-29 aircraft in and around China and Japan. The two communicated through letters during that time, many of which are reprinted in the book.

Reading the simple, loving letters between this couple provides a very human perspective on a terrible war and gives a look into the lives of the normal men and woman living in this unprecedented time. Readers will appreciate the tender nature of the love between Dean and Connie, as well as the factual information about the war and the perspective of the Japanese soldiers of that time.

Roger Stark’s writing is not only captivating but imparts a lot of research without bogging down the narrative. ‘They Called Him Marvin,’ is a genre-defying, heartfelt story of family and love in the theater of war.

About the Author

Roger Stark, by his own admission, is a reluctant writer. But there are stories that demand to be told. When we hear them, we must pick up our pen, lest we forget and the stories be lost. Six years ago, in a quiet conversation with his friend, Marvin, he learned the tragic story of his father, a WW2 B-29 Airplane Commander, shot down over Nagoya, Japan, just months before the end of the war.

The telling of the story that evening by this half orphan was so moving and full of emotion, it compelled Roger to ask if he could write the story. The result being “They Called Him Marvin.”

Roger Stark’s life has been profoundly touched in so many ways by being part of documenting this sacred story. He prays that we never forget, as a people, the depth of sacrifice that was made by ordinary people like Marvin and his father and mother on our behalf.



This giveaway is for 3 print copies, one for each of 3 winners. This giveaway is open to the U.S. only and ends on June 24, 2022, midnight, pacific time.  Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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“This was an amazing book. This isn’t a look at war through rose colored glasses, but one that shows the reader what life was like for people from many backgrounds. A soldier, his love left behind on the home front, and those that were considered the enemy at the time.
This was an intimate story that doesn’t focus only on the war, and pulls the reader in quickly and easily. Historical fiction lovers, those with an interest in war history, and anyone just looking to take a few steps back in time will greatly enjoy reading this.”- Liliyana ShadowlynThe Faerie Review

“The fact that the premise for this book started with the story that Marvin told and then the letters from Dean and Connie shows how much research Roger Stark put into writing this book. I love how he revolves all of the events around the dates of the letters. The letters give the reader a reprieve from the atrocities of war and show the humanity of the soldiers fighting.
There are some parts of the war that are shared that are so vivid and so horrifying – both on the part of the Japanese and on the part of the Americans. It is so heart-wrenching to think that these young (barely) men were out in those situations.

My almost-93 year old grandpa, whose name is Marvin and who served in the Korean War, also read this book, and he really liked the story.
For anyone who likes to read books based on wars or just history in general, I definitely recommend this one. It is also a love story that unfolds and is eye-opening to horrors that were experienced.”-Heather2 Many Books, 2 Little Time

“Told in prose with diary-style sections of narration as well as central figure 1st Lt Dean Harold Sherman’s own personal correspondence, this is a beautiful tale of enduring romance and the heroism of those who fought and flew during the latter part of World War Two during the United States’ conflict with Japan. What results is a touching family saga that also foreshadows the great horrors and sacrifices of life in war.
Author Roger Stark has crafted an emotive work with plenty of historical richness, pathos, and heart to offer readers. One of the features which I found particularly impressive about this piece was the heartfelt presentation of the unshakeable bond between Dean and Connie, both through the curation of their own words to one another and the contextual gap-filling which Stark achieves with facts, but also emotionally sensitive additions and details.
Overall, I would highly recommend They Called Him Marvin to fans of accurate wartime accounts and for enthusiasts of World War Two reports.”- K.C. Finn, Readers’ Favorite

3 thoughts on “Book Review & Giveaway: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

  1. teddyrose1 May 5, 2022 / 1:46 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed ‘They Called Him Marvin’, Sal! I cried a lot while reading it. Thanks for hosting Dawn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sleepygirl2 May 5, 2022 / 1:53 pm

      Any time. I’m glad Sal enjoyed it!


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