May 1 marks the official release date of Final Salute, former Rocky Mountain News scribe Jim Sheeler's expansion of an article about the way families of Marines are informed that their loved ones have died, which won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for featuring writing. The book arrives on a wave of glowing reviews and publicity of the sort that's usually to be found only in authors' dreams.
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The offering has received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly that ends with the line, "Dedicated to 'everyone who opened the door,' Sheeler's book is a devastating account of the sacrifices military families make and should be required reading for all Americans." (That sounds like an order.) In addition, Sheeler and Colonel Steve Beck, the man around whom the action of the original piece and its followup revolve, appeared together on April 30 on what may be the nation's best platform for introducing readers to new page-turners: the National Public Radio program Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross. Click here to check out the results. And while Sheeler has left the Rocky in favor of a newly created position at the University of Colorado Boulder -- a move detailed in this February 28 Message column -- the paper is still doing its all to help promote the tome. He and Beck will appear together at a Wednesday, May 7, book signing at the Denver Newspaper Agency auditorium; visit Sheeler's website for details. Afterward, he embarks on a national tour that will take him to locations such as New York City and Washington, D.C.
That's the sort of salute Final Salute deserves. -- Michael Roberts