Book Reviews/Recommendations

Blue&White
Posts: 3018
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby Blue&White » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:15 am

Does anyone read anymore? I still do. I love reading. And, based on some previous discussions we've had I think there are some other readers here.

Anyway, I have a book recommendation, A Higher call. I just finished it on the plane home last night and I think I'm going to read something else by the author. I really enjoyed his writing.

The book is a true story. The story is about a German fighter pilot named Franz Stigler. In December 1943 he came upon a straggler B17 bomber that was trying to get home after a bombing raid. The plane had been shot to pieces, he could see some of the crew were dead, that the plane was barely able to keep airborn, and was unlikely to make it back to England. He had a clean shot and could have ripped the plane apart and kept the crew from getting back to the UK and living to come and bomb Germany again in another plane. But, he didn't. He decied basically shooting down a crippled plane that could no longer fight back and killing the crew was tantamount to murder. So, he tries to signal them to land so they can be taken prisoner. The Americans won't do it. He tries to signal them to then fly to Sweeden - which they could have made - which was a nuetral country. The Americans would have been held by the Swedes the rest of the war but they would have been alive. They didn't understand what Stigler was telling them so ignored them. The bomber continues to fly towards the coast, where German flak gunners are waiting to blow them out of the sky.

So, realizing all this, Stigler instead escorts them over the German guns and out to sea. He figures the plane is going to crash into the North Sea and the crew will die anyway, but he won't have it on his conscience. He then turns back and hopes none of the ground gunners report him or got his plane markings because he can be shot for letting a B17 go. The B17 crew made it to an island in the North Sea that was held by the British and the surviving crew made it through the war. The book is about everything that happened to Stigler before and after that encounter, going up to the time of his death.

It's a really good book. And, given I know a lot of this forum enjoys history and WWII, I really recommend it. I learned a few things from it too. For example, I had no idea that the pilots and crews that flew bombing missions over Germany were all volunteers. They did not require you to fly in a bomber. And, you had the option to quit and go do something else (which may still have included combat, btw). I had no idea those men could quit. If you've ever seen any movies about what those guys went through up there, it's amazing that any of them did it twice.

The movie Memphis Bell, which is based on an actual WWII B17 crew, does a really good job of showing you the horror of it all. That's a movie worth watching.
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psu_dad
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Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby psu_dad » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:04 am

I don't read as much as I'd like. When I'm not working, I'm usually trying to make a dent on my 10000 Things To Do list.

My most recent read was The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. This guy's instincts for navigating the minefield of academic politics must be off the charts. It's a miracle that Harvard hasn't yet burned him at the stake for being a heretic.
Klaatu barada nikto

LioninVa
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Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:49 am

Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby LioninVa » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:40 am

I love to read. I like Clancy, Vince Flynn, Michael Connelly and a few others, but am open to many genres. I read “In Love and War” by Admiral and Mrs. Stockdale many years ago and it was very interesting. It chronicles their lives but switches from James's writing to Sybil’s frequently. He was the senior US POW in Vietnam and the way the passed information is incredible.

I may have to look into “A Higher Call” now.

Blue&White
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Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby Blue&White » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:20 pm

I don't read as much as I'd like. When I'm not working, I'm usually trying to make a dent on my 10000 Things To Do list.

I usually read at night, just before bed. I usually read a chapter just before turning in. It takes me a long time to get through a book, but that's ok. I'm in no rush. :)

I may look into the Pinker book.

Lion - Admiral Stockdale was also Ross Perot's running mate back in 1992.
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LioninVa
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Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:49 am

Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby LioninVa » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:13 pm

I remember. He did not do well in the VP debate, if you remember. He seemed distant and/or confused. It turns out that his treatment in the POW camps caused him to lose most of his hearing but he didn’t disclose that before the debate. This didn’t come out until much later, I think It was after his death but I’m not sure.
Last edited by LioninVa on Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Blue&White
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Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby Blue&White » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:37 pm

I remember. He did not do well in the VP debate, if you remember.

Yes. Yes, I do. And, no. No he did not. The punchline was "Who am I? Why am I here?". And, we did know he didn't hear well because at one point he admitted he couldn't follow along because he thought they were done talking to him and he had turned off his hearing aid.

Perot most likely chose him as his VP candidate because he figured he was an unassailable figure who wouldn't embarass him. And, sadly, Perot was wrong. That debate was an absolute shitshow. Both Gore and Quale went out of their way to be respectful to him, but it was really awful to watch. Given what Stockdale went through on behalf of his country, he shouldn't have been put in that position. The good thing was I think most people gave it a good humored pass. There were some jokes at his expense, but, generally, it was not meanspirited (SNL did their normal thing, of course). But, yep, I absolutely recall that debate.
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hbendle
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Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby hbendle » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:53 am

Sci-fi and fantasy is the norm for me, but a sprinkling of anything on top of that will do. If I had to pick a recent favorite it would be Ready Player One -- pre movie. That fed my previous addiction to Playland and Campus Casino. Lots of ebooks borrowed from the library these days so I can read no matter where, on my phone.

Blue&White
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Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

Re: Book Reviews/Recommendations

Postby Blue&White » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:06 pm

So, after reading A Higher Call I was doing some general poking around the internet about some B17s. I discovered that the 1990 war movie Memphis Belle was actually based on a 1944 documentary on the real plane. It was a propaganda film put out by the War Department to help sell war bonds. You can find it on YouTube. It's about 40 or so minutes long.

I just watched it and it's something. If you can remember that the scenes where they fly through flack and deal with German fighters really happened, it's really quite terrifying.

Worth pulling up and watching. The Greatest Generation in action. It's impressive. And humbling.
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