Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wings of Morning. Thomas Childers. (01)

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in World War II. (01)

RayS: This book is nonfiction written as if it were fiction. The author uses all of the techniques of fiction to re-create the lives of the crew of the Black Cat, a B-24 bomber flying bombing missions over Germany. It is my favorite book about World War II.

Introduction from the Cover
On April 21, 1945, the twelve-member crew of the Black Cat set off on one of the last air missions in the European theater of WWII. Ten never came back. This is the story of that crew--where they came from, how they trained, what it was like to fly a B-24 through enemy flak, and who was waiting for them to come home.

Historian Thomas Childers, nephew of the Black Cat's radio operator, has reconstructed the lives and tragic deaths of these men through their letters home and through in-depth interviews, both with their families and with German villagers who lived near the crash site. We follow Childers's uncle, Howard Goodner, a Tennessee college kid, as he awaits his draft notice, trains, and travels overseas to join the 8th Air Force in its fight over the flak-filled skies of Germany. We meet Howard's crewmates: young men from Manhattan and Brooklyn, Pittsburgh and Peoria, St. Louis and New Jersey. Sons, brothers, and fathers--most scarcely more than boys themselves--they left everything behind to join the war effort. Wings of Morning re-creates the lives of these men in battle and on leave, at play and under fire, with a compelling combination of narrative craft and detailed historical investigation.

Interlaced with the story of these men is the author's search for answers long denied his family. A week before the air war in Europe ended, the Black Cat was shot down over Regensburg. The families of the crew received KIA and MIA telegrams in the midst of the joyous celebration of V-E Day. Desperate for further information, they wrote letter after anguished letter to the War Department but, caught in the chaos of the war's end, they could learn nothing more. Fifty years later, Childers continues the quest, and in so doing unearths confusion about the exact number of crash survivors and ugly rumors of their fate at the hands of the German villagers. His search to determine what really happened to the crew of the Black Cat leads him to the crash site outside of Regensburg to lay the mystery to rest.

Thomas Childers is a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. His previous work has explored the German resistance, the political culture of Germany and the language of German politics.

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