cover image The Flying Circus: Pacific War--1943--As Seen Through a Bombsight

The Flying Circus: Pacific War--1943--As Seen Through a Bombsight

Jim Wright. Lyons Press, $22.95 (214pp) ISBN 978-1-59228-656-0

The lengthening shelf of Greatest Generation memoirs gets a pleasant if somewhat rambling and soft-focus addition in this reminiscence by the former Democratic Speaker of the House. Wright traverses the usual rites of passage, including post-Pearl Harbor enlistment, impulsive war marriage, immersion in a melting pot of fellow recruits, poignant farewell to family and, finally, combat with the Japanese as a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator. He survived his plane's run-ins with Zeroes and flak unscathed, but his unit suffered heavy losses, and he recounts the ordeals of other aircrews who were shot down and captured-and sometimes beheaded-by the Japanese. Still, Wright's was not the grimmest of wartime experiences; he was stationed at a relatively comfortable base in Australia. Much of the book is taken up with meandering, quotidian anecdotes-one chapter is titled ""Mail Call, Mess Hall and Egg in My Beer""-and it is suffused with nostalgia for a ""hopelessly romantic and very wonderful"" time. Wright is also not an entirely reliable source of information on the wider war, and rather grossly overestimates the military significance of the engagements he participated in. Not particularly interesting in its own right, his book coasts on its association with the still-potent glamour of the Good War.