A Real Good War

Sam Halpert, Author, Byron Kennedy, Editor Southern Heritage Press (FL) $19.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-941072-30-4
Echoes of Memphis Belle and Catch-22 haunt Halpert's absorbing debut about WWII Air Force men. Sent to England in the summer of 1944, the 10-man crew of a B-17 flying fortress know they are replacements for the U.S. Eighth Air Force, which has suffered heavy casualties in the air war over Nazi Germany. Fearful and uncertain, these brash young aviators know they must complete 35 missions before they can go home, and the odds are not good. Booze, women and gallows humor help them cope with the terror of flying massive, daylight bombing missions in bad weather, heavy anti-aircraft fire and clouds of swarming enemy fighters. The characters are an unsurprising lot: the innocent, unnamed navigator (the narrator), the competent but socially awkward pilot, the unnervingly scared copilot. Others fill out a crew of frightened 19- and 20-year-olds praying to survive the conflict. Since Halpert was himself a B-17 navigator in Europe during WWII and his unnamed narrator tells the story in the first person, one can easily assume this to be a self-portrait. It is gripping fiction in any case. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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