4 out of 4 stars
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In our daily lives, sometimes we need a reminder of what true heroes are. This is what author Steve Snyder does in his book, SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth. This nonfiction text describes the story of American pilot Lieutenant Howard Snyder, the author's father, and his crew during WWII.
Snyder used Howard's letters and journal entries, as well as diaries of other men and women to compile his book. He begins by reflecting on how difficult and depressing it was for Howard to leave his wife and child for the war. Howard names the plane he pilots 'Susan Ruth' after his first child. The author then proceeds to describe pilot training and the frightening, stress-inducing experiences the men faced in air-based combat. War itself is scary enough, but flyers needed to worry about frostbite, lack of oxygen and/or clogging up their oxygen tubes with frozen spit, causing instant death. Even with these risks, Howard and his crew, the 306th Bomb group, are able to safely land at their home base in Thurleigh, England. The men quickly learned how to adjust to their new lifestyle.
After several missions in Europe, the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth meet their fate. They are brutally shot down by the Germans. As the plane is physically falling apart, the crew tries to keep their focus and start jumping ship. Some of those who survived are captured and treated inhumanly by the Germans. Others are hidden by seemingly ordinary Belgium civilians, who jeopardize their own lives to provide a sanctuary for the fallen American flyers. Howard isn't captured, but places himself back in danger by taking part in The French Maquis, a French resistance movement. Men wanting to go home to be with their loved ones, people desiring their freedom and safety, and brave people endangering their lives to help each other are all brought together in this amazingly intense novel.
I found this book extremely interesting, informational, and memorable. Snyder does a wonderful job of capturing the reader's attention throughout the book. I was able to learn more and more about WWII as I read, which is something I really enjoyed. It is easy to forget significant past events and the impact they had on people. Thanks to this book and the author, I was reminded, and all I feel is appreciation and respect for those who participated in the war.
Snyder provides the reader with a first-hand account of what those living during this harsh time had to endure by including several letters and journal entries in his book. I really liked this aspect, and it made the book unique. These letters and journal entries show the reader what a kind and loving man Howard Snyder was to his wife and child. I have no criticisms of this book. It is one that I was happy to choose, and one that I will always remember.
I rate SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth 4 out of 4 stars. Snyder's detailed account of his father and crew's story allowed me to learn as I read. It also reminded me of how grateful I am for the men and women who participated in WWII. I would highly recommend this book for adults who enjoy nonfiction text about the struggles of war and the amazing people that experienced it.
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