Robert Radcliffe, Under an English Heaven Reviews

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“440 page paperback 2002”


written by zoodemon on 05/04/2009

440 page paperback 2002

I generally read a good mix of fiction, and i like war time stories for their real life jeopardies and as a much needed reminder of how fortunate and ungrateful i am. I didn't know anything about Robert Radcliffe's Under an English Heaven, but the covers are packed with glowing reviews.

The story here, based loosely on first hand accounts of real events, are of American airmen based in Suffolk in 1943, beginning their daylight bombing runs in their trusty B17's. We have a mix of characters to follow, from the close-knit 10 man air crews, to the villagers who fail to understand the airmen's sacrifice, dealing with them more out of necessity, resentful of the airmen's food supplies and money. The author creates a clever background story of home life in Suffolk, tranquil rural scenes separate the raging air battles in an almost surreal way, the British strangely oblivious to the airmen's sacrifices while their own family members are away or lost at war.

Slowly the locals accept the war ravaged crews, seeing hundreds of young lives lost in a day when the bombers don't return. The sharp and frightening bomber missions, detailing everything from flak hits to the terrifying hours over Europe without escort, watching their friends spiral away to their deaths as the bombers break apart. The airmen strive only to meet their mission totals and get home in one piece.

I really enjoyed this book, it does fall down a little on characters, it creates just enough depth to portray the villagers feelings, stories needing to be told, but this is all engulfed by the flight scenes.
It's a really good book, easy to follow and an interesting read even if you're not a war fanatic.

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