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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Pilots by James Spencer

An excellent book of vignettes about World War II's Pacific Theater

Consolidated B-24D Liberator
The Pilots consists of a series of short stories, mostly about American pilots of B-24s in the Pacific Theater in World War II. The stories are all related to one another but any one of them is also a stand-alone story on its own (in fact, the author notes in the back note that 5 of the stories were previously published independent of one another in magazines). The dust jacket liner notes call it a novel-in-stories.

Spencer's book consists of 15 vignettes about the lives of two pilots. The first one is about their childhood. It is by far the weakest of the stories. It has the least to do with the war, but it is a decent little story about the Great Depression. The rest of them give us a little taste of the action in the air over the Pacific but also a sense of life back on base and on the atmosphere of the pilots on leave in Australia.

The book is a breeze to read and quite enjoyable. As a memoir in fiction, one can assume that some of it really happened to Spencer, some of it is based on things he heard about and some of it he just made up. Either way, I enjoyed it.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on July 10, 2006.

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