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LDS author puts faces on war and those who fight it

Jerry Borrowman notes emotional drain in writing about war's reality

AMERICAN FORK — Writing about war is an emotional drain for Jerry Borrowman.

His latest book, "I'll Be Seeing You," set during World War II, targets members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while it offers insights into the LDS Church, it's not a religious novel. Rather, it depicts its characters simply living their lives in the context of their religion.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Borrowman said it was natural to write from that perspective. A love of history and a desire to share the inspiration found in the lives of those who have served our country in time of war inspired the books, he said.

"These are hard books to write," Borrowman said. "Sometimes we have to fight wars, and some people suffer more than others. For them we should be grateful."

"I'll Be Seeing You" has sold nearly 14,000 copies since April. The sequel to Borrowman's earlier novel, " 'Til the Boys Come Home," it follows the life of fictional character Dan O'Brian, his buddies and their generation as they live through two world wars.

" 'Til the Boys Come Home" sets up the main characters in a rural Idaho town early in the 1900s. While the novels graphically portray the tragedies of war they are not anti-war novels, he said. He began his two-book tale with a lengthy introduction to the characters, some of who die in conflict, so readers would get attached to them.

"Then, when they encounter the cruel realities of war the reader would feel the emotional impact. It wasn't to make a statement against war, but rather to show the price that is required to maintain freedom," he said.

"I'll Be Seeing You" has O'Brian's son and son-in-law involved in World War II. Again, Borrowman spends a third of the book developing the characters, then sends them off to war. Getting to know the characters puts a face on war. Both novels are excellent reads.

Borrowman previously co-authored three biographies from the WWII and Vietnam — "Three Against Hitler" with Rudi Wobbe, "A Distant Prayer" with Joseph Banks, and "Beyond the Call of Duty" with Bernie Fisher. As he researched WWII, he realized that the best way to tell that story was to begin with WWI, which set the stage for the second great war.

"I did extensive research from reading more than 10,000 pages of history, including general background information on the politics and sociology of the time to understand the great movements that were altering the way we think about the world (such as Freud, Darwin and Marx) as well as specific histories of World War I and World War II.

"I also got to do some firsthand research at the Smithsonian and other museums, as well as flying in an open cockpit airplane that was reminiscent of the one my character flew in ' 'Til the Boys Come Home.' I've crawled through submarines and aircraft carriers in an attempt to properly describe the technology of the period," he said.