The Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge is a powerful post-war family drama by Bernie McAuley.
Wars and armed conflicts have inspired countless stories. These novels are set on the frontlines, featuring casualties, destruction, triumphs, losses, and death. But over the years, war has also produced some of the most compelling stories about post-war narratives. They examine the trauma and pain that affect both soldiers and civilians. The focus is on the values, compromises, regrets, hurt, rage, and sacrifice of those who fought and witnessed the horrors of war. Today, we will feature a book about how war changes soldiers as well as their struggle to embrace life after the war. The Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge is a post-war narrative about a Vietnam War veteran who comes home and witnesses the changes happening all around him.
McAuley’s The Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge gives us a glimpse of a story that many of our soldiers can relate to even today.
Larry is a Vietnam War POW or Prisoner of War who arrives at his family ranch in Montana. The recent death of a loved one and his traumatic experiences as a prisoner of war have greatly devastated Larry. He finds himself left alone to raise his two kids- Jonnie and Mark. Furthermore, the ranch where he grew up is about to be sold to another. Larry could lose his career as an airline pilot to make matters more depressing because of his nightmares and other signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
While Larry is coming to grips with his new reality and role as a single dad, a person from his past shows up. Dakota is an old high school and college rodeo team member. She now works as a reporter, and they meet for the first time in many years. Though many guys tried to chase Dakota through the years, Larry is not one. But that was before. This and the many changes happening around him are what Larry must embrace while rebuilding his life after the war and captivity.
The Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge is not your typical family drama. It tackles the anxieties and realities that war veterans undergo and the private lives they must rebuild. Bernie McAuley’s book also tackles social issues- man landing on the moon, race riots, gas shortages, and the Watergate scandal.
Overall, The Shadows of Sawtooth Ridge is a feel-good movie filled with history, gripping emotions, what-ifs, a tinge of darkness, a simple yet finely written-narrative about human triumph and redemption. This is a book you probably won’t put down once you begin reading the first few chapters for those who love war and family drama.
Bernie McAuley is from Eastern Montana. He spent summers on his grandfather’s 14-000-acre ranch. Bernie spent summers working in Glacier National Park when the ranch was sold. Before starting his airline career with Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis, he also joined the Army. McAuley returned to Montana with the airline. There, he spent his free time hunting, fly fishing, team roping either on the Missouri River or along with the shadows of the sawtooth, and packing into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Soon after, Bernie McAuley transferred to Seattle, where he assumed a position in operations. He became familiar with flight crews and working MAC (Military Air Charter) flights arriving from and departing to Vietnam. Eventually, McAuley retired from the airlines after 38 years of service. Post-retirement, he began working for the Griffin School District near Olympia, Washington. Bernie McAuley currently resides in Puget Sound in Lacey, Washington, and his wife of 42 years.