This historical fiction novel is highly recommended. War novels are not my usual go-to, though I do enjoy an Erik Larson historical fiction now and then. Hawser brought WWII and the Air Force’s role in the American European campaign to life, as the protagonist arrives in Britain with the 1st wave of Americans and B-17s. Hawser, an Iowa-born, Arizona-raised bombardier, gives an inside perspective into the mindset of the war-wracked soldier and into the workings of the evolving planes of the war.
The story opens on the starving shell of Lt. Hawes amid the grinding routine of an Air Force officer’s POW camp hoping to make it another day, another hour. Then, the story flashes back to his arrival into the new world of war and the various men and women he’d met along the way.
Stress is high, camaraderie is true and romance is a warped thing doomed before it begins.
It was an odd unhinged emptiness. I felt like a kite with a cut string, the wind still blowing hard but in no particular direction, no thread of resistance to guide me. I wouldn’t have been surprised to float off my cot and into the tent ceiling, continue higher still with canvas shroud until I was as far above the camp as I had been over Hamburg or Schweinfurt.
Nobody’s approach to the war and their role in it is the same. Hawser and the richly developed secondary characters feel very real, with superb use of regional accents and military jargon enjoyably appropriate.