If World War II is ancient history to you, The Great Wounded Bird may let you know just what it was like to be in it. What it feels like to drop bombs on strangers, swim out of a bomber, not to really understand war even though you're in one. You'll learn how young men in frightening situations do things they never thought they would be obliged to do, who come to accept danger and hardship as a normal way of life and accept extraordinary events as something they had signed up to endure without question because millions of young men just like themselves had done so. Learn that being in combat had its carefree moments, that being a prisoner of war behind barbed wire was not always grim, that the enemy was not always evil, that the camaraderie of shared peril is stronger than blood ties. All this without the reader ever having heard a shot fired in anger.
Westheimer takes you with him to Brazil; across the South Atlantic to the Gold Coast of Africa; to Khartoum, across the Sahara to Palestine; to Haifa, Cairo, Tobruk, Benghazi and Tripoli; to Beirut and Damascus; and to prison camps in Italy and Germany. And in the prison camps you will meet Padre Brach, the Catholic chaplain who refused repatriation, and Feldwebel Gemnitz, the chief German guard at Stalag Luft III, who after the war was brought, all expenses paid, to a reunion of his former charges.
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DAVID WESTHEIMER, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, is the author of fifteen novels and one nonfiction book. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal in World War II and was a POW in Italy and Germany, which provided him with material for several novels, including Von Ryan's Express and Sitting It Out
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