Based on his Pulitzer Prize–winning story, Jim Sheeler’s unprecedented look at the way our country honors its dead; Final Salute is a stunning tribute to the brave troops who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and to the families who continue to mourn them.
Since Mr. Sheeler followed the individual stories of several military men and their families (no dead female soldiers are included in the book), Final Salute seemingly qualifies as an extended human-interest story. To some extent that's what it is, if human interest includes the pain and frustration of surviving the death of a loved one (or breadwinner) in battle. But the book is given tighter focus by the man whom Mr. Sheeler treats as a central figure: Maj. Steve Beck, a marine who specializes in helping the bereaved…Major Beck's utter dedication to his job is one thing that gives Final Salute its strong backbone. This is not a maudlin book, despite the endless opportunities Mr. Sheeler had to make it one. Instead it adopts Major Beck's quiet decency in his conduct and his empathy for people in dire circumstances.