Lightning Down: A WWII Story of Survival

Tom Clavin. St. Martin’s, $23.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-2501-5126-1
Bestseller Clavin (coauthor, Blood and Treasure) delivers a sluggish account of an American fighter pilot’s imprisonment at the Buchenwald concentration camp during WWII. Born in Ferndale, Wash., in 1921, Joe Moser enlisted in the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor, earned a Distinguished Flying Cross at age 22, and made it through D-Day unscathed. Soon thereafter, however, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to bail out over occupied France. Expecting to be taken to a POW camp where he would be protected by the Geneva convention, Moser, along with 167 other Allied pilots, was instead designated a “terrorist” and sent to Buchenwald, where the Nazis held foreign spies, Resistance fighters, and other foreign and domestic enemies. Clavin profiles the other pilots and paints the horrors of life in the concentration camp in harrowing detail, describing rats feeding on piles of corpses and guards beating prisoners to death with rocks. Eventually, the prisoners were moved to a series of POW camps and were liberated by American forces in April 1945. Though the details Clavin unearths about how close the airmen came to being executed are grimly fascinating, frequent asides slow the pace down, and Moser remains a somewhat distant figure throughout. This WWII survival story is best suited to completists. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/29/2021
Release date: 11/02/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-81809-6
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