Finding the Clouds and a Life
by Carl M. Robinson
Page Publishing, Inc.

"I could get a black patch to cover my eye or just leave it uncovered and cloudy; I chose the latter."

From the outset, Robinson’s fusion of memoir and biography combined with a succinct narrative writing style results in a clear and engaging portrayal of a life story that rarely lacks positive energy even in the midst of adverse circumstances. Audiences who either grew up in the 40s and 50s or learned about the decades in the history books will undeniably get an in-depth snapshot into what life was like for those who actually lived it, whether it was the anticipation of being drafted or how World War II not only affected soldiers on the front line but also drastically altered civilian life.

Remarkably, Robinson successfully integrates every phase of his life with genuine emotion without ever making the reader feel like the plotline is beginning to drag. Born in 1928, Robinson opens the book with a description of the drive his parents made from Missouri to Visalia, CA, which would eventually become his stomping ground throughout his youth. Through his description of how hard his parents worked, Robinson establishes a tone of grit and grind for his own experiences.

From romantic relationships drifting apart to the University of Nevada in Reno that became a haven of growth through sports, academics, and Greek life, Robinson’s life began to accelerate forward during his undergraduate years. Ironically, Robinson’s football scholarship and University of Nevada career came to fruition at the behest of the basketball coach; no one had seen Robinson play football. Being a part of campus sports and Alpha Tau Omega, Robinson forged lifelong relationships and those that would resurface throughout his life.

At the core of Robinson’s work is a consistent theme: mentorship. At nearly every level, in every phase of his life, Robinson has encountered timely and helpful mentors who propelled him toward his ultimate goal. Whether it was Donald D. Speed, with whom Robinson picked up basic training and aerobatic skills like loops and rolls in midair, or superintendent Proctor Hug, whom he met during his time at the University of Nevada, Robinson’s ability to build meaningful connections was always on full display.

Robinson’s journey of progression in the Air Force is a compelling read on its own, taking him from Japan and Korea to experiencing combat flights and nuclear tests such as Operation Castle, a test of six nuclear bombs, and Operation Teapot. Nestled within this portion of Robinson’s life is meeting Patty O’Hara, coincidentally as part of a double date with different people. Subtle details Robinson includes such as buying a violin in Japan or having dinner with Patty’s parents are a testament to a phenomenal recall of his experiences. On the surface, the perception, arguably, is that representing your country, be it through the Army, Navy, or like Robinson, the Air Force, is essentially choosing a different life where nothing and no one matters but the objective; however, Robinson’s journey and running commentary throughout indicate exactly the opposite: everyone wants to have life experiences ranging from love to childbirth and to laugh and smile their way through life.

If life could be captured in words, then Robinson’s text is just that—a snapshot of milestones and simple moments that convey how one should live a full life of spirit, strength, and resilience. Just when it seems like the author’s life is reaching a point where there is little left to accomplish, he surprises readers by undertaking a new challenge. Robinson’s experiences take him from Visalia to Las Vegas, but his actions demonstrate that he has been able to channel each of his experiences into his daily life. In a nutshell, Robinson embodies a dreamer who values education, love, family, friendships, etc. and is able to make ample time for all of it. Comprehensive and detail-oriented, this work accomplishes the rare feat of covering an extensive amount of material in-depth while still maintaining microscopic attention to detail, a riveting combination that invites readers to experience what Robinson has painted on the canvas of life.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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