|“A favorite place in Steel Beach, the eye-opening memoir by Jeff Lee Manthos, occurs in the middle of the book, when the writer is asked by his superior officers if "your country can rely on you to deliver a nuke"--a bomb against America's enemies. Manthos has just finished reading books about the life of Gandhi, and he was deeply affected by the idea of nonviolent resistance. But Manthos was also a warrior, pledged to defend his country--no matter what the obstacles. The reader experiences the discomfort of conflicting ideas with the author. After much soul-searching, Manthos decided he could not go through with it and confessed to his superior, a chief petty officer, "I'm confused, Chief." "Son." the Chief replied, "if you are not confused, you don't understand the situation." This is the kind of ridiculous reality that Manthos brings to page from beginning to end, as he recounts his life as a naval aircrewman during the Vietnam War from 1972 to 1976. The book is written in straightforward, clean, honest prose, uncovering daily life in a combat zone in a way that is just as relevant and important today in relation to the war in Iraq as it was to military personnel decades ago.”
Lee Gutkind, author and judge, 2007 Oregon Book Awards, founder and editor of the journal Creative Nonfiction
Also From Lee Gutkind: Steel Beach makes a connection with the reader "in a way that remains memorable and establishes trust."
“In Steel Beach, Jeff Lee Manthos doesn’t tell us about his life as a Naval helicopter crewman in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, he shows us. He guides us along to the extent we’re awash in the pungent odor of jet fuel, and know the heart-racing apprehension of flying far out over the expanse of unforgiving ocean. We struggle beside him in the classroom, and sweat alongside him through rigorous training to become a highly trained rescue crewman aboard the Navy’s impressive Sea King helicopter. He places us among the high drama and tension on the dangerous carrier deck, and makes us feel the bone-jarring catapult in the cramped, stifling spaces below deck. And throughout his superbly written, masterful blend of personal insight, we share the exuberance of his youth, and his ride on the rollercoaster of young love. One does not have to be particularly fond of aviation or military life to become absorbed in Steel Beach; Manthos’s love of writing is clearly evident, making his memoir appealing to all. Steel Beach makes the reader eager for more from the pen of Jeff Lee Manthos.”
Wayne Mutza, military aviation historian and author
“Imagine it's 1972. You're sipping your morning coffee and flipping through the newspaper to the draft lottery section…and discover your birthdate is "number 1" in the draft call-up. That's how Steel Beach begins and from page one I was hooked. I couldn't put the book down until I'd read it cover-to-cover. Throughout this memoir, Jeff Manthos does an excellent job of combining honesty, humor and riveting details, ultimately giving the reader a captivating glimpse into the life of a naval aircrewman. While reading this book there were several times when my heart was pounding with anticipation over what would happen next. I wouldn't classify this book as humor, however, one particular section had me laughing so hard the tears streamed down my cheeks. I approached my husband (a U.S. Army Soldier) and tried reading that section to him, but I was laughing so hard he couldn't understand me. Finally, I handed him the book and through my fit of laughter, pointed out which pages to read. He did and had the same reactiongut-wrenching laughter. Although Steel Beach is focused on Manthos's life in the military, the prose is written in an easy-to-understand fashion, making it ideal for readers that are military enthusiasts and those unfamiliar with the military. I give Steel Beach a five-star rating because: a) it held my attention from beginning to end; and b) it made me laugh until I cried.”
Kim Wilson, author
Steel Beach “is a smooth memoir of the author’s military experiences . . .”
Marc Leepson, Books in Review, The VVA Veteran magazine, July/August 2007
“For everyone who thought a Navy seaman's job was simply swabbing the deck, Jeff Manthos can beg to differ, and he does so in great style. In his ship-shape and fine-tuned memoir, STEEL BEACH, Jeff takes the reader inside the world of Vietnam-era aircraft carriers and rescue helicopters with sailors risking their lives for each other and their country every day. I swear, I was tasting salt on my lips and smelling engine oil on my skin by the time I finished this book, but it was so much more than just that. Watching the journey of a boy becoming a man is an intense ride and a great read you won't want to miss.”
Jody Seay, award-winning author; creator, producer, and host of the TV show, Back Page.