cover image My Life in The Service: The World War II Diary of George McGovern

My Life in The Service: The World War II Diary of George McGovern

George McGovern, introduction by Andrew J. Bacevich. Franklin Square, $25.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-8799-5759-6

In this beautifully illustrated book, McGovern, a native of South Dakota and member of “the greatest generation,” wrote of his harrowing days as a 22-year-old pilot flying bombing missions over Nazi-occupied Europe. The youthful McGovern (who died in 2012), making entries in his handwritten diary, recalled his air-cadet days, from first lessons in self-defense through the difficult selection process as a pilot. In these diaries (which he kept from basic training until the end of the war), McGovern’s pride shows brightly as he made pilot in 1943, got his wings, and underwent combat training before flying his B-24 bomber over enemy territory. Despite the self-effacing style of McGovern’s writing, this book depicts McGovern’s rare courage as he engaged heavily defended targets—Nazi airfields, rail works, and oil refineries—sometimes losing plane engines in the process. Along the way, McGovern lost his father to illness, and in this trial too he showed remarkable courage. He wrote in his diary to celebrate his father’s “beautiful life,” while also remembering the young souls around him boldly giving their lives for freedom. The bravery McGovern demonstrated in wartime, displayed in this unique diary, was mirrored in his service of over two decades in the House of Representatives and Senate, in his 1972 campaign for president, and in his drive to speak out against the Vietnam War, making him a valiant spokesman for a nation in troubled times. (Nov.)