Ms. Underwood nailed every aspect of what it feels like to be a National Guardsman, to prepare for war, to deploy and to lose a close comrade. Technically and emotionally accurate in all respects…Whether soldier or civilian, this powerful and enduring story of the Army National Guard Armored Cavalry Troop will be felt by all who read it. The title of the book only becomes evident a the full weight of emotions swell as the last paragraph of the last chapter is read. Although Ms. Underwood is not a soldier, she writes with a soldier’s heart.”
—Chief Warrant Officer #5 , Dean E. Stoops, Command Chief Warrant Officer,
Kentucky Army National Guard.
“Ms. Underwood has provided a rare insight into the triumphs, tragedies and raw emotions of a small group of citizen soldiers who gave their all during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The difficulty of transitioning from Full Spectrum Operations to Counter-Insurgency Operations is uniquely capture in this small band of brothers. A must-read for anyone who was ‘out of the gate and in the dirt’ during this volatile period for both the United States Military and the Iraqi people.
—Chief Warrant Officer #5, Robert ‘RV’ Davis, Command Chief Warrant Officer, Tennessee Army National Guard,
Military Intelligence Officer in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“(The author) tapped into the human dynamics and versatility of the Army National Guard Soldier. Sense of duty, common sense application of tactical skills and the brotherhood forged in combat are told in the story of K Troop 3/278th ACR, Tennessee Army National Guard.”
—Major General Terry M. ‘Max’ Haston, 75th Adjutant General, Tennessee National Guard.
“Beth Underwood’s Gravity is a tender but gut-wrenching true-life story… Reading Gravity had me mentally strapping on a helmet and bulletproof vest, and walking out of my comfortable home and straight into a combat zone.”
—Kathleen Rodgers, author of The Final Salute and Johnnie Come Lately.
“Beth Underwood has written a compelling tale of America’s citizen soldiers, weaving a tapestry of how demanding the strands of military and civilian life are. People who trained on weekends… are asked to step into the fire of war in a dust bowl a lifetime away. Gravity pulls the reader into the turmoil and refuses to let go.”
—Michael D. ‘Moon’ Mullins, award-winning author of Out of the Mist: Memories of War, Vietnam in Verse, poetry for beer drinkers, co-author of Kings of the Green Jelly Moon, The book, and Pass the Salt Doc.
Beth Underwood was among the crowd in tribute to local National Guard soldiers in Livingston, Tennessee on Veterans Day 2004. The soldiers represented part of the first major deployment of the Guard since World War II. They were headed to fight in Iraq, and she was impressed with their service and the community’s patriotism.
Underwood, then a recently hired reporter for a local newspaper, pitched a story to her publisher: one, she said, regarding “my unshakable interest in these Guardsmen and the deployment’s effect on the community.” The idea was accepted and when published, was well-received. That was the germination of her book, Gravity, which tells about a group of part-time soldiers from Tennessee who had things relatively easy in their native environment, morphing to individuals getting a whole lot more than they bargained for—fierce and highly dangerous participation in the Iraq War. A few didn’t come back alive.
The Lexington author captures action, comradery, clashing of cultures, fear, bravery, and the overall pathos of war within a unit called Knife Troop. Though not, she writes as if she is intimately embedded with the U.S. soldiers in the deployment, but is only so emotionally, and in the way she tells their stories–effectively.
And as for the contextual meaning of the term “gravity,” well, that’s for readers to decide, especially after reading the book’s 185 pages to the end.