BOTYA finalist 2009 

National Best Books finalist 2010

Military Writers Society of America 2011 Army WINNER!



  Gold Medal Winner



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About AlanAbout_Alan.html

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        Meet Alan when he is 16 and follow him as he makes the life altering decision to join the U.S. Army in April 1943. As a teen in infantry boot camp, he makes the most of his situation by volunteering for duties, asking about Officer Candidate School (it was filled to capacity), and becoming a driver. For each week of the next 19 months, he documents his adventures, frustrations, and hopes and dreams for the future in letters back to his mother.

        Although not a high school grad, Alan wrote well and with intelligent detail about the world around him. His “voice” changes from the energetic youth at the training camps, to the cautious realism of a rifleman finding himself at the French/German border with Patton’s unrivaled Third Army. Yet Alan represents all the young soldiers’ voices when he expresses a yearning for a normal home life again after the war and an appreciation of all that he has had as a youth growing up in America.

WW II Patton’s RouteWW_II_Pattons_Route.html
WW II Reader’s Theatre using ALAN’S LETTERSWorld_War_II_Readers_Theatre_script.html

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Susan ----I couldn't stop reading Alan's Letters. I felt like Alan was a family member, and I felt his loss deeply at the end. Rial has done what a lot of people have probably dreamed of doing - following in the actual footsteps of an American GI. The result is outstanding: it is an absolutely beautiful book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in World War II, and, especially in the life of an American soldier.

Kathleen M. Rodgers......I had the pleasure of judging this book in the 2011 Military Writers Society of America Book Awards. I gave Nancy Rial's "Alan's Letters" a PERFECT score. This book deserved nothing less.

             From the moment this book arrived, I opened the first page and was drawn right in. I dropped everything and curled up in my favorite reading chair and read the book in one sitting. Nancy Rial engages the reader from the first line: "My Uncle Alan was not discussed." Turns out his death was too painful a subject for the author's grandmother to talk about. The brief forward by the author, stating why she wrote this book, was better written and more interesting than many books on the market today. I was struck by her question: How do you miss someone you never knew? "My Uncle's absence was always present in my life. I cannot say why I missed someone whom I would never get to meet, but I did."

            The book contains letters written by a young soldier named Alan W. Lowell, the author's uncle. He was killed in France Nov. 10, 1944. The author has done her homework on the historical text that is interspersed between the letters. The writing is spot on and compelling, and I was in tears by the end. I wanted to jump up and contact the author and tell her the impact her story had on me. But I had to wait until the awards were announced.

           "Alan's Letters" could have easily been titled "Your Loving Son, Alan." His love and concern for his mother back home was heartwarming and gut-wrenching at the same time.

            As the mother of a soldier in today's Army, I highly recommend this book to every American who cares about our military and the families left behind during deployment. This book should be taught in our schools.

Kathleen M. Rodgers ~ author of the award-winning novel "The Final Salute."

Ranked #1 on Amazon's Top Rated War Fiction - 2012

Ranked #2 on Amazon's Bestselling Military Aviation - 2010.

Douglas ALAN House ---After reading Nancy's book about her Uncle Alan, I found out much more about what was happening at that time in our country's history than my father ever told me. As it turns out, my father, Lloyd House, and Alan were best friends during their service in the Army. It was great to read Alan mentioning my dad on page 19 for the first time. It was even better to see his picture on page 20. I believe like many men involved in war, they NEVER spoke about it. I had to find out from Nancy's book that my parents gave me Alan for a middle name to honor Dad's friendship with Alan. After reading Nancy's book about her Uncle Alan, I consider that quite an honor.

Thank you Nancy,

Timothy F. Blixt "Tim Blixt"

One of the things that today's conflicts in the Middle East thankfully bring back to us here on the home front is the stories of the men and women who are sacrificing so much for us. Telling the stories of the men and women who leave home to fight our wars was not always a given. During WWII what coverage those young folks got was often filtered through a lens that left a lot of the grim reality of war out in order to not upset those back home. As those veterans of WWII leave us at the rate of about 1000 per day, we are finally being treated to some wonderful books as these guys leave behind the stories they feel they can now share. Sadly, the subject of this book, Alan Lowell, did not survive the war to tell us his entire story. But through the very thoughtful efforts of his niece, we now have a wonderful picture of Alan and his war through the collection of letters Alan's niece has compiled. His niece, Nancy Rial, has augmented Alan's letters with period notes to help flesh out the story of a young man going off to war. I have long been of the opinion that the full story of WWII cannot be known until you really know what fighting the war was like for those who endured those horrific times. This book is geared for those readers who would most benefit by learning about WWII, young readers. If you're looking for a way to tell an essential part of American history to a youngster in your life, I encourage you to check out "Alan's Letters"---it's as good a place to start as I can think of.

Jim Greenwald MWSA Reviewer (2011) ---Alan’s Letters is both History and Life, a rare combination that allows one to literally walk in the shoes of a soldier who served during World War ll in the 5th. Infantry Division. The story combines letters written home by Alan Lowell with the researched history of the events that both surrounded and consumed a young man.
We tend to think much has been written about that war, yet, there are hundreds of battles, some with no names we would recognize that occurred and resulted in thousands of casualties. These men and women were our heroes, no less important than the names we recognize from history books and movies.
By combining historical records with actual letters written home as Alan went from raw recruit to seasoned veteran one feels and sees the subtle changes that occur in a young man exposed to the horror that is war. War leaves scars on and in the survivors to bear, and tear filled memories for family members to endure.
Alan was killed in action in November of 1944. His dreams and aspirations left unfinished, his story uncovered by his niece in the letters he wrote home.
This book is worth reading as it allows a personal look inside the life of a soldier rarely seen in the books we read or the history we are taught and opens a window for authors to pursue in their writing of this and other wars that will add a personal touch we all will find easy to identify with. The author expressed that she sees it more of a social studies interest, I agree, but it is clearly more intimate as well. You will not be able to read it without finding yourself identifying with Alan and the authors loss

  1. M.Berger---Most of us had relatives who fought in WW II, here is a way to read one young soldier's viewpoint to his family. It is a universal story that rings true across time. Ms. Rial has done a beautiful job designing this book. Her research is extensive and adds authenticity to the letters. You feel like Alan is your brother or son.   


War pushes one to grow up very quickly. "Alan's Letters" tells the story of one Alan Lowell, as author Nancy Rial pieces together many primary sources to show where a small town boy can go into Patton's army and be marched quickly into adulthood. With plenty of photos and an assortment of letters written by the solider, "Alan's Letters" is an intriguing and thoughtful dive into history, highly recommended.