...this story is tightly edited and all the more powerful for its brevity and focus
Some Spoilers -- Yet another WWII story (I know too many!). This one a true tale of chivalry in the air war in Germany. Using a single instance of a German fighter pilot aiding the crew of a crippled US bomber the author takes the opportunity to describe life in the German air force for those who were not Nazis. Telling the story of Franz Stigler, a Bavarian Catholic who served as a pilot we get the background on Hermann Goering’s air corps pilots, their esprit de corps, their life styles and their battles. The author opens with Franz’s love of civilian aviation and reluctant recruitment into the air force. He survives numerous crashes in Spain, Germany, and North Africa. He flies over 400 sorties for the air force and comes to question the purpose of the war. Remarkably he survives the war, the post war hardships in Germany and immigrates to Canada.
The US pilot in the story, Charlie Brown, is younger than Stigler and much less experienced than him when their paths cross in the skies over Holland. But Charlie has many of the same experiences as Stigler, dealing with fear, a sense of despair and the strong feeling he won’t survive the war.
I won’t tell the tale of their encounter because the author does it much better than I could, but it is a great story. The author (an extraordinarily lucky man to find all of the key players alive and willing to be interviewed 50 years later) does a good job of interweaving the two stories. The events that brought both pilots together 50 years later are almost as good as the original story. This story is tightly edited and all the more powerful for its brevity and focus. It continues to fascinate me that we can motivate young men (and women) to put their lives on the line in the way these two gentlemen did. A great story that would bring up a number of interesting discussions for a book club.
I read a kindle edition of this book and again am unhappy with nonfiction on the kindle. The images provided are awful and the documents shown are unreadable. Come on guys at least provide a link to some good images if you can’t get them on the kindle. No more nonfiction on the kindle for me!
I read a copy of this book that I bought