I was skeptical at first, the hype being a bit over the top, but the book looked interesting, so I gave it a try.
What I liked immediately was that seldom do you get to read about World War II from opposite perspectives. I’ve read a number of books by Germans and Americans, but this was really the first that juxtaposed the two adversaries over the shared incident.
Having lived in Germany for 4 years, and still having some dear friends there, I was interested in seeing it from the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) perspective. Interestingly enough, this is one aspect that Hollywood depicted rather well in the Great Escape, which highlights the conflict between the Luftwaffe and the SS and Gestapo. I think Stalag 17, did also, but I frankly don’t remember it as well.
Speaking of movies, two other must see WWII bomber films are Twelve O’clock High and Command Decision, both great movies that deal with both the aircrews and the commanders who must keep them going no matter what. If you have not seen those three movies, shame on you. Since you (and I) did not live through it, it helps put our lives and our freedom in perspective. Nothing valuable comes cheaply. I wonder if President Obama has seen them??
I liked the detail and it was clear that the writer, Adam Makos, did a massive amount of research for this book. He has managed to write an engrossing story that is hard to put down. You felt the fear and terror the aircrews went through.
In one gripping scene, our American pilot, only 20 years old and the Aircraft Commander, Charlie Brown, is taxiing his B-17 on a very foggy, dark morning, there are still two B-17’s in front of him, taking off at intervals of 30 seconds. As he gets close to the runway, they can hear the first bomber speeding down the runway, when all of a sudden they see this large yellow glow at the end of the runway and then hear the explosion. Realizing that the plane just crashed and exploded on takeoff, they wait in stunned silence for instructions. Within seconds, the word comes over the radio to continue takeoffs. As they continue to taxi they see the yellow glow again of an explosion, this time higher in the sky, a midair collision. One of the planes that just took off collided with another plane in the dense fog. Within 2 minutes, three bombers and 30 aircrew are gone, just like that.
You’ll have to read the book for the rest of the story, but suffice it to say, you will not be bored and maybe you too will come away inspired and thankful.