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Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival

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An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive. On August 13, 1944, Joe Moser set off on his forty-fourth combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down tells this largely untold a An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive. On August 13, 1944, Joe Moser set off on his forty-fourth combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down tells this largely untold and riveting true story. Moser was just twenty-two years old, a farm boy from Washington State who fell in love with flying. During the War he realized his dream of piloting a P-38 Lightning, one of the most effective weapons the Army Air Corps had against the powerful German Luftwaffe. But on that hot August morning he had to bail out of his damaged, burning plane. Captured immediately, Moser’s journey into hell began. Moser and his courageous comrades from England, Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere endured the most horrific conditions during their imprisonment... until the day the orders were issued by Hitler himself to execute them. Only a most desperate plan would save them. The page-turning momentum of Lightning Down is like that of a thriller, but the stories of imprisoned and brutalized airmen are true and told in unforgettable detail, led by the distinctly American voice of Joe Moser, who prays every day to be reunited with his family. Lightning Down is a can’t-put-it-down inspiring saga of brave men confronting great evil and great odds against survival.


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An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive. On August 13, 1944, Joe Moser set off on his forty-fourth combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down tells this largely untold a An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive. On August 13, 1944, Joe Moser set off on his forty-fourth combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down tells this largely untold and riveting true story. Moser was just twenty-two years old, a farm boy from Washington State who fell in love with flying. During the War he realized his dream of piloting a P-38 Lightning, one of the most effective weapons the Army Air Corps had against the powerful German Luftwaffe. But on that hot August morning he had to bail out of his damaged, burning plane. Captured immediately, Moser’s journey into hell began. Moser and his courageous comrades from England, Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere endured the most horrific conditions during their imprisonment... until the day the orders were issued by Hitler himself to execute them. Only a most desperate plan would save them. The page-turning momentum of Lightning Down is like that of a thriller, but the stories of imprisoned and brutalized airmen are true and told in unforgettable detail, led by the distinctly American voice of Joe Moser, who prays every day to be reunited with his family. Lightning Down is a can’t-put-it-down inspiring saga of brave men confronting great evil and great odds against survival.

30 review for Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival

  1. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Lightning Down by Tom Clavin During WWII, one hundred and sixty eight Allied airmen were imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Given the name the name "Terrorflieger" (terror flyers), these men had first survived the infamous Fresnes Prison outside Paris before they were shipped in cattle cars to Buchenwald. Rather than being treated as POWs, according the Geneva Convention, their existence was kept secret and they knew their only reason to be at this camp was to die. This true story fo Lightning Down by Tom Clavin During WWII, one hundred and sixty eight Allied airmen were imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Given the name the name "Terrorflieger" (terror flyers), these men had first survived the infamous Fresnes Prison outside Paris before they were shipped in cattle cars to Buchenwald. Rather than being treated as POWs, according the Geneva Convention, their existence was kept secret and they knew their only reason to be at this camp was to die. This true story follows Joe Moser, an American pilot, who was shot down over occupied France, on August 13, 1944. After being captured and sent to Fresnes Prison, Joe and the other airmen were taken to Buchenwald. Thinking that at some point they would be treated as POWs and given food, water, and livable accommodations to sit out the war as prisoners, instead they are faced with the almost impossible trial of surviving the death camp. Even though I've read a lot of historical fiction detailing the horrors of the concentration camps, this story further shocked me with some of the most gruesome accounts of the treatment of the occupants of the camps that I have ever read. It's impossible for the mind to wrap around what occurred to so many people, on a daily basis. For the airmen, this wasn't the end, there were more horrors in store for them, as the Nazis were determined to hide their existence from the world, while they tried to determine a way to exterminate the men without Germany suffering repercussions against German POW pilots. We don't just follow Joe. The story details the heroic efforts of those who risked and gave their lives to save others throughout this war. It is thanks to the efforts of Pilot Officer Philip John Lamason, and other pilots, that this group of men held together as an organized single unit, despite the nightmare that had become their lives. For all but two of these men, Buchenwald was not their final destination, as the men were forced on brutal and deadly winter marches to other locations. Throughout all of this, Joe felt guilt for those who risked/lost their lives trying to help them but also thankfulness that he woke up each day, knowing that at anytime, he could be one of the thousands to not see another sunrise. A story that started out seeming dry had me fighting back tears by the end. Even once these survivors were rescued, most of them didn't speak out about their ordeals because they found they weren't believed. It was only decades later that all the facts came out and the surviving men could finally speak about the horrors and heroics that befell them. Publication: November 2nd 2021 Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Lightning Down by Tom Clavin was the tue story of a young farm boy, Joe Moser, who always dreamed of becoming a pilot. Joe grew up on a farm in the state of Washington. He finally got to fulfill his wish of becoming a pilot when the United States entered World War II. After a slow beginning that included too much technical details for me, Lightning Down picked up its pace. It unveiled the little known POW experience Joe and 167 other Allied men faced during World War II. On August 13, 1944, Joe’ Lightning Down by Tom Clavin was the tue story of a young farm boy, Joe Moser, who always dreamed of becoming a pilot. Joe grew up on a farm in the state of Washington. He finally got to fulfill his wish of becoming a pilot when the United States entered World War II. After a slow beginning that included too much technical details for me, Lightning Down picked up its pace. It unveiled the little known POW experience Joe and 167 other Allied men faced during World War II. On August 13, 1944, Joe’s P-38 Lightning plane had been hit by the Germans while he was completing a mission over occupied France. His plane was about to be consumed in flames. Joe jumped and landed in a field where French farmers tried to help him. Unfortunately, German soldiers were quick to arrive. Joe was imprisoned at the Fresnes Prison outside Paris, France initially. Shortly after, Joe and 167 other allied airmen were transported by cattle cars to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. This went against everything The Geneva Convention stipulated. Joe and his fellow airmen should have been brought to a POW camp. Instead they were about to face starvation, disease, abuse and the constant threat of death as they were brought to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Lightning Down depicted the harrowing details Joe and his fellow airmen faced. The Nazis knew that they had to keep the whereabouts of these 168 airmen quiet and secretive. Joe and his fellow airmen knew they were living on borrowed time. They knew that the Nazis would have to ultimately kill them. The Nazis could not risk the chance that someone would discover that these Allied airmen were being kept in a concentration camp. I have read many books about the Holocaust and the horrors of the concentration camps but I never heard of this harrowing experience that Joe Moser and his fellow airmen went through. When the men that survived the horrors of Buchenwald came home, no one believed their stories. Their governments chose to keep quiet about it. It wasn’t until decades later that Joe Moser’s story was finally told to the public and believed. Lightning Down was about courage, fear, resilience, heroism, and a determination to survive. It was the true account of the fate of 168 Allied airmen that finally has been told. I listened to the audiobook that was narrated well by George Newbern. This is a book that I would recommend to those who would like to find out more about the harrowing experiences these brave men were put through. Thank you to Macmillan Audio for allowing me to listen to the audiobook of Lightning Down by Tom Clavin through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cya_all_day_dream_about_books

    I thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with the complementary ebook in exchange for honest review. Lightning Down is a biography which describes in vivid details the life and horrors faced by military people in the hands of the Nazis. If you have an interest in history, WII and military, then this book is for you. As a reader of historical fiction of WWII, I have read plenty books based on true incidents and very few biographies and non fiction in the same genre. This is my firs I thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with the complementary ebook in exchange for honest review. Lightning Down is a biography which describes in vivid details the life and horrors faced by military people in the hands of the Nazis. If you have an interest in history, WII and military, then this book is for you. As a reader of historical fiction of WWII, I have read plenty books based on true incidents and very few biographies and non fiction in the same genre. This is my first book by Tom Clavin. This felt more like a docuserie which brings infront of you the events faced by Joe Moser and the others. The historical events, personal details, life before, during and after prison is described in detail. The stories, horrors faced during one of the darkest periods of history is unending, where we read about tragedies from survivors and this book is among them which describes accurately. We should use these books to remember periods of history, heroism, human will to survive in adverse conditions which otherwise would be lost in time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a WW2 history based on the experience of a P-38 Lightning fighter pilot. The author told much of pilot Joe Moser’s personal story and added bits of history surrounding the people and places he encountered during his service. The story was interesting but it fell a little flat for me. I didn’t get emotionally involved because I want drawn into the story as I could have been. Though many events were either tragic or fantastic, the telling wasn’t compelling. Three stars is the best I can giv This was a WW2 history based on the experience of a P-38 Lightning fighter pilot. The author told much of pilot Joe Moser’s personal story and added bits of history surrounding the people and places he encountered during his service. The story was interesting but it fell a little flat for me. I didn’t get emotionally involved because I want drawn into the story as I could have been. Though many events were either tragic or fantastic, the telling wasn’t compelling. Three stars is the best I can give this book. I would like to give it more because of the people and events it contained, but three is where it lands. Thanks MacMillan Audio via Netgalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I found this book written by Tom Clavin to be a winner. The story of Joe Moser and his experiences after going into the service is just outstanding. I enjoy many books on World War II, and this is a good one. Clavin became a fighter pilot, which was his dream, and he had some hairy times in the air. But many of his pilot friends didn’t make it back. Clavin eventually had his plane damaged and had to bail out. He was sent to a concentration camp and things became very harrowing after that. Advan I found this book written by Tom Clavin to be a winner. The story of Joe Moser and his experiences after going into the service is just outstanding. I enjoy many books on World War II, and this is a good one. Clavin became a fighter pilot, which was his dream, and he had some hairy times in the air. But many of his pilot friends didn’t make it back. Clavin eventually had his plane damaged and had to bail out. He was sent to a concentration camp and things became very harrowing after that. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Tom Clavin, and the publisher.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    I'm a history junkie and a big Tom Clavin fan. I loved his previous books on Wild Bill, Tombstone and Dodge City. So when I saw this WW II book pop up for review, I knew I needed to read this as well. What a story! I couldn't stop reading! Lightning Down tells the story of Joe Moser. Moser was 22-years old when he bailed out of his airplane over France in WW II. He was captured by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp. Buchenwald....a notorious death camp. He was one of 170 airman impriso I'm a history junkie and a big Tom Clavin fan. I loved his previous books on Wild Bill, Tombstone and Dodge City. So when I saw this WW II book pop up for review, I knew I needed to read this as well. What a story! I couldn't stop reading! Lightning Down tells the story of Joe Moser. Moser was 22-years old when he bailed out of his airplane over France in WW II. He was captured by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp. Buchenwald....a notorious death camp. He was one of 170 airman imprisoned there. It was a fight for survival as conditions were incredibly horrific. OMG -- this book is so good! Once I got sucked into the story of everything this man went through, I couldn't stop reading! I can't even imagine what he and the others at Buchenwald went through. And how so many did not make it out again. I listened to the audiobook (as well as reading my digital review copy). Narrated by George Newbern, the audio is just short of 8.5 hours. Newbern does a great job of reading. His voice is pleasant and he reads at a nice pace. Very enjoyable listen! Another awesome book from Tom Clavin! I can tell his books are just going to be must-reads for me from here on out! I read early ARCs for review and then buy the audio book afterwards for every single one. Keep 'em comin, Tom! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St Martins Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Lightning Down by Tom Clavin is a stunning account of a US fighter pilot that fought in WWII, Joe Moser, and the harrowing events that he went through, and survived, that in my mind makes him a true hero. I will save the narrative for the reader to be able to experience, however I will just say am awed, humbled, and honored to be able to read the author’s account of Joe’s experiences during WWII as a POW. To read all that he experienced, suffered through, and was able to overcome as prisoner afte Lightning Down by Tom Clavin is a stunning account of a US fighter pilot that fought in WWII, Joe Moser, and the harrowing events that he went through, and survived, that in my mind makes him a true hero. I will save the narrative for the reader to be able to experience, however I will just say am awed, humbled, and honored to be able to read the author’s account of Joe’s experiences during WWII as a POW. To read all that he experienced, suffered through, and was able to overcome as prisoner after fighting for his country is nothing short of awe-inspiring and makes me so proud to be able to be part of the amazing country that Joe Moser represents. To read one traumatic event after another, one would think that the normal person would give up, and if they didn’t, they would be angered and bitter afterwards. But not Joe. Not only was he a survivor, but he was able to still find solace and happiness afterwards. The quote from Joe below says it all: “I’ve had a wonderful life,” Joe said. “I would go through it again to keep our freedom. I know I could be angry for what I had to go through, but it made life worth living.” I am so appreciative of the author to be able to bring to light Joe’s story, along with many other’s whose lives were forever changed (and sacrificed) for our country. I also am thankful that the discussion of PTSD was also included as well. Awareness of this issue is always needed. I am thankful and honored to be able to read this account that was so tastefully and respectfully written. I cannot recommend this enough. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and St Martin’s Press for this amazing arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    Surviving the Crash Joe Mosier, a farm boy from Washington, had a great desire to fly airplanes. When he joined the Army Air Corps his dream was realized. He was flying the new P-38 Lightning one of the most effective weapons in the air corps. The book tells of missions to protect ships, other larger bombers, and to blow up bridges and such. It tells of the feelings the pilots had, that they had no joy in shooting down enemy aircraft as the pilots were humans just like themselves. They did feel gr Surviving the Crash Joe Mosier, a farm boy from Washington, had a great desire to fly airplanes. When he joined the Army Air Corps his dream was realized. He was flying the new P-38 Lightning one of the most effective weapons in the air corps. The book tells of missions to protect ships, other larger bombers, and to blow up bridges and such. It tells of the feelings the pilots had, that they had no joy in shooting down enemy aircraft as the pilots were humans just like themselves. They did feel great when a mission was complete and all the aircraft returned safely, and they were sad when one didn't return. I did not understand a lot of the talk about the airplanes themselves and all the technical stuff, but I did enjoy the story of the lives and feelings of the soldiers so far from home in a strange country. One mission turned out not so well for Joe. He was hit and had to bail out over farmland in occupied France. Although some French farmers tried to help him he was captured by the Nazi's. He was not sent directly to a POW camp. First they put him in a prison in Paris, then he was sent to a concentration camp called Buchenwald instead of a POW camp. The struggle for survival in this camp was real and hard. The unit of flyers did stay together and help each other. The threat of being sent to the crematorium which spewed ash on them every day from the murder and burning of the dead from the camp was almost unbearable. Then the unit commander got word that the order had come for them to be executed and it was only by incredible luck and means that they were saved from execution. They were sent to another camp and after a few months toward the end of the war undertook a death march in the winter in temperatures of below zero weather in a snowstorm. They walked hundreds of miles in the weather and many perished and were left lying on the ground along the way. The remaining members of Joe's camp comrades stuck together and he once again escaped death by the help of his friends fighting to stay alive. The book is the story of a will to survive, a quest for freedom and the story of one Washington farm boy that survived the Nazi's. Anyone that is interested in history, the war and the Nazi's reign of terror should read this book. It is at times emotional, it is historical and a wonderful book of the human spirit. I am glad I read this book and I would recommend it. Thanks to Tom Clavin, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of the book, all opinions are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    This is such a horrifyingly tragic story that was wonderfully written. No matter how many stories you hear of people who survived the concentration camps, it just seems impossible to grasp how these things could ever happen. Even more so, it is impossible to grasp how people could survive them. After all the horrifying things this man endured, I think it's amazing that he managed to keep such a wonderful outlook on life. This is such a horrifyingly tragic story that was wonderfully written. No matter how many stories you hear of people who survived the concentration camps, it just seems impossible to grasp how these things could ever happen. Even more so, it is impossible to grasp how people could survive them. After all the horrifying things this man endured, I think it's amazing that he managed to keep such a wonderful outlook on life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jena Henry

    "Lightning Down" by Tom Clavin is a well-researched, fact-filled historical biography, with plenty of heart and inspiration. The story of Joe Moser and his fellow flyers in the United States Air Corps during World War II is a testimony to inner-strength, determination, and love country. Joe Moser seemed to be just an ordinary guy. But he was an ordinary guy who loved planes and wanted to serve during World War II. He enlisted and was accepted in the the pilot program. After training for several "Lightning Down" by Tom Clavin is a well-researched, fact-filled historical biography, with plenty of heart and inspiration. The story of Joe Moser and his fellow flyers in the United States Air Corps during World War II is a testimony to inner-strength, determination, and love country. Joe Moser seemed to be just an ordinary guy. But he was an ordinary guy who loved planes and wanted to serve during World War II. He enlisted and was accepted in the the pilot program. After training for several years, 2nd Lt. Moser headed to England to begin his flying career in the Lightning plane he loved. After almost 50 successful runs over France and Germany, his plane was shot down. And so began the second part of his war story. Although French partisans tried to rescue him, he was quickly found by the Germans and taken to a prison in Paris. He and fellow flyers rode the last cattle car-type train out of Paris before the city was liberated by the Allies. Thus began a year of the worst possible treatment and suffering that Nazi Germany could inflict. Joe Moser and 170 flyers were taken to infamous Buchenwald, instead of to a POW camp. The Nazi's considered them "terrorists" and so Germany did not follow the Geneva Convention rules with them. Joe and his comrades, who did their best to maintain military order, suffered through daily hideous and cruel treatment. Could they survive until the end of the war? Filled with many famous figures and based on facts and records, this book is fascinating as well as a great story. The ending of the story, which updates Joe's long life, is even more amazing than the war time heroics. How proud we should be of the young men who rose up as ordinary citizens to forgo their immediate dreams and plans, and perhaps even make the ultimate sacrifice, in order to battle the evil of the Nazi regime. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advance review copy. This is my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    Lightning Down is a biographical story of Joe Moser, "An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive." And what a story of survival it is! This book hit harder than works of fiction I have read on the subject -- Moser's experiences, as well as others reported throughout the book are horrific and terrifying. Clavin leads into the horrors with backstory on Moser and other figures before we get to the cruelties at Buchenwald (and beyond). If you typically read works Lightning Down is a biographical story of Joe Moser, "An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive." And what a story of survival it is! This book hit harder than works of fiction I have read on the subject -- Moser's experiences, as well as others reported throughout the book are horrific and terrifying. Clavin leads into the horrors with backstory on Moser and other figures before we get to the cruelties at Buchenwald (and beyond). If you typically read works of fiction on the subject, the beginning may take time to work through. However, hearing Clavin's telling of Moser's story is incredibly important and I encourage you to stick with it--even though many of the experiences will be hard to hear. We also hear how Moser, as well as many other survivors, were not believed when initially sharing their stories of survival. That is why it is incredibly important that first-hand accounts like this are recorded, read and shared. George Newbern's narration was direct, clear and steady throughout the heavy information and terrors he was narrating. Amidst the cruelties, there are also several accounts of bravery and hope sprinkled throughout Moser's experiences. Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for a digital audio copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Casey Wheeler

    This is another good biography by the author in that the book reads more like a novel that a recitation of history. This one deals with Joe Moser who is one of the pilots shot down over France during World War II and eventually ends up as one of 168 pilots categorized as terrorists by the SS and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. After an extended period of time they are saved by a Luftwaffe officer and transferred to a POW camp just shortly before they are to be executed and sent to the ove This is another good biography by the author in that the book reads more like a novel that a recitation of history. This one deals with Joe Moser who is one of the pilots shot down over France during World War II and eventually ends up as one of 168 pilots categorized as terrorists by the SS and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. After an extended period of time they are saved by a Luftwaffe officer and transferred to a POW camp just shortly before they are to be executed and sent to the ovens. This is a solid story about the conditions they endured and overcame. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in World War II. I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook and my nonfiction book review blog.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    During WWII, fighter pilot Joe Moser was imprisoned by the Germans after his plane crashed. He was held at Buchenwald, "the deepest, darkest part of the heart of Nazi evil and hatred." Upon arrival, Joe was told there would no escape "except as smoke through the chimney." The prologue was very interesting but I found the first 1/3 uninteresting as it was mostly about the aircraft and its capabilities, so I skimmed much of it. After that, the story focused on Joe and then, I was hooked. I will, ho During WWII, fighter pilot Joe Moser was imprisoned by the Germans after his plane crashed. He was held at Buchenwald, "the deepest, darkest part of the heart of Nazi evil and hatred." Upon arrival, Joe was told there would no escape "except as smoke through the chimney." The prologue was very interesting but I found the first 1/3 uninteresting as it was mostly about the aircraft and its capabilities, so I skimmed much of it. After that, the story focused on Joe and then, I was hooked. I will, however, caution that the descriptions of the camp and the atrocities that occurred there (starvation, torture, death, etc) were brutal and definitely not for the faint of heart. Location: Germany I received an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    An incredible survival story that is hard to put down. Would recommend this book to anybody.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Warren

    I found this book very interesting regarding the content and chronology. Mr. Clavin did an excellent job of giving us the details of P-38 Lightning pilot Joe Moser's WWII experience. He covers Joe's early life, what peaked Joe's interest in flying as a fighter pilot and then his war time experiences. I could identify with Joe's want to fight for his country and do so as a fighter pilot. When Joe was shot down and captured his life took on an unbelievable difficult, and that is very understated, I found this book very interesting regarding the content and chronology. Mr. Clavin did an excellent job of giving us the details of P-38 Lightning pilot Joe Moser's WWII experience. He covers Joe's early life, what peaked Joe's interest in flying as a fighter pilot and then his war time experiences. I could identify with Joe's want to fight for his country and do so as a fighter pilot. When Joe was shot down and captured his life took on an unbelievable difficult, and that is very understated, existence. I am grateful Mr. Clavin took the time to research and document the horrors of Joe's survival in Nazi SS prisons. We must never forget the unspeakable horror inflicted upon Jewish people as well as other humans interred in those camps. I don't doubt that others unfamiliar with those horrors didn't believe Joe or his fellow captives' tales of the existence in Buchenwald. Frankly the treatment was so inhumane that it is difficult to believe one human can do the unspeakable to those millions. The book ends with a very nice summary of what happened to Joe and his fellow veterans so that the reader can understand the closure they finally were able to experience. No doubt not all veterans were able to experience full closure. I highly recommend this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    I liked this book, it is essentially the history of Joe Moser's experience in World War II. He was a war hero and his story is worth knowing. With as many books as I have read about World War II, I'm still learning about people, experiences and bravery that I have never known before. I'm glad we get to continue to learn about and understand this time in history. I fear too many people refuse to visit the past so we will be doomed to repeat it. I liked this book, it is essentially the history of Joe Moser's experience in World War II. He was a war hero and his story is worth knowing. With as many books as I have read about World War II, I'm still learning about people, experiences and bravery that I have never known before. I'm glad we get to continue to learn about and understand this time in history. I fear too many people refuse to visit the past so we will be doomed to repeat it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    CoffeeBreakBooks

    Lightning Down is a remarkable and fascinating biography which should be a must-read for those who appreciate military, historical, or cultural topics. Tom Clavin has created an immensely readable story about young Joe Moser, beginning with a summary of his early years growing up during the Great Depression, his desire to fly, and then his fulfilling a dream of flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning in the European Theater of Operations. The uniqueness of this tale lies in the appalling fact that Joe Lightning Down is a remarkable and fascinating biography which should be a must-read for those who appreciate military, historical, or cultural topics. Tom Clavin has created an immensely readable story about young Joe Moser, beginning with a summary of his early years growing up during the Great Depression, his desire to fly, and then his fulfilling a dream of flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning in the European Theater of Operations. The uniqueness of this tale lies in the appalling fact that Joe and a small group of other downed Allied fliers have the misfortune of being classified as "Terrorflieger" (terror flier) instead of the proper POW status, thus being treated as if they were criminals or spies. Lightning Down vividly portrays the harsh life in the prison camps while also accentuating the courage and resolve of those who sought to be free. As one who appreciates history and had family members serving in the USAAC during WWII, I found Lightning Down to be among the best biographies or memoirs I have read about the war. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Original Post: http://www.nerdprobs.com/books/book-r... **A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.** I find stories of survival from World War II to be fascinating. The situations these people were put through and the pure urge to survive no matter what always inspires me to try and live a better life. This story follows the life of a flyer in World War 2 that helped drop bombs on Nazi’s and then was caught and became a prisoner. Although it Original Post: http://www.nerdprobs.com/books/book-r... **A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.** I find stories of survival from World War II to be fascinating. The situations these people were put through and the pure urge to survive no matter what always inspires me to try and live a better life. This story follows the life of a flyer in World War 2 that helped drop bombs on Nazi’s and then was caught and became a prisoner. Although it follows the story of Joe Moser, it also tells multiple different stories of people on both sides of the war and the things they did. I felt like I learned a lot about a wide range of people that I hadn’t read about in the past. My favorite is obviously the side of good and the things people sacrificed to help save others. It’s always heart warming to read books like this that make you feel really good about humanity even in the worst of times. My biggest upset about this book was the formatting. It jumped around a lot from the beginning of the war to the end of the war and back and forth telling different side stories while telling the story of Joe Moser and his fellow flyers. Sometimes this got confusing on who we were talking about. Or they would be following the main storyline but jump forward to tell you how they ended up, but then jump back to give more details. I wished it had flowed a little more smoothly. Otherwise the story itself was amazing. It’s terrible and heartbreaking, but the pure drive to survive and the way they helped each other get from one step to the next, sometimes literally, was the best. This story will tell you the worst of the war, but shines a light on the best of those who fought it for us. Definitely one to check out.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian Alford

    A Book Review by Brian: Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival by Tom Clavin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This will not be one of my typical book reviews as this was not a typical read. This was an Advanced Readers Copy and the book will be on sale November 2 of this year. Thank you to Tom Clavin and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review. I have studied and read a lot on the Holocaust and World War II(I was a history education major in colleg A Book Review by Brian: Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival by Tom Clavin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This will not be one of my typical book reviews as this was not a typical read. This was an Advanced Readers Copy and the book will be on sale November 2 of this year. Thank you to Tom Clavin and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review. I have studied and read a lot on the Holocaust and World War II(I was a history education major in college). It still never ceases to amaze me what some people endured and what other people were capable of doing to other human beings. This book tells the story of Joe Moser, a young American Pilot who is shot down over France in 1944. He was then captured by the Germans and eventually ended up in the Nazi concentration camp called Buchenwald. What Joe, the other American pilots, and other prisoners of the camp are forced to endure while imprisoned at Buchenwald is indescribable and at times, hard to read. I don't think anyone can really understand what those men truly went through without having experienced it(and I pray no one ever has to experience anything close to the Nazi concentration camps). I would encourage all people to read this book and then do some self reflection. Joe had an incredible outlook on life, despite all that he had been put through and survived. It will really make you realize that the problems that we deal with in our every day lives are actually a luxury. We are free people and are kept free by individuals like Joe Moser, who endured horrific travesties just to keep us free. As hard as this book was to read at times, it was a very worth while read that I am glad I took the time to read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Roseborough

    This is the true story of a young man who pursues his dream, only to have it turned into an unimaginable nightmare that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Joe Moser was a young farm boy who grew up dreaming about flying. In the lean years before the start of World War II life on the farm in Oregon was demanding but also rewarding. The daily responsibilities and a good Catholic upbringing combined to give Joe the strong body and character he would need to face the future. Like many other yo This is the true story of a young man who pursues his dream, only to have it turned into an unimaginable nightmare that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Joe Moser was a young farm boy who grew up dreaming about flying. In the lean years before the start of World War II life on the farm in Oregon was demanding but also rewarding. The daily responsibilities and a good Catholic upbringing combined to give Joe the strong body and character he would need to face the future. Like many other young men after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he tried to join the armed forces as a flight cadet. He was rejected at first, but as the war progressed the demand rose for pilots to replace those who were lost in the early months of the war. He soon realized his dream, training to fly the P-38 Lighting. This unusual twin engined fighter plane would soon become known to the enemy in Europe as the fork-tailed devil. Lt. Joe Moser flew forty-four missions out of airfields in England and eventually France before that fateful day when his plane was shot down. His youthful exuberance for adventure had by this time changed to a yearning to live to once more see his mother and family. This was not yet to be. He was captured by the Germans, interrogated, and sent to a prison in nearby Paris. As the Allies approached the city, the Germans loaded all the prisoners, many Allied airmen, on trains bound for destinations deeper in German held territory. Jammed into cattle cars so tightly that they could hardly move, much less sit or lie down, the prisoners were not unloaded until many days later when they reached their destination, Buchenwald. This is were Joe’s real nightmares would begin. Allied fliers were supposed to be sent to P.O.W. camps were they would expect to be treated by the rules of the Geneva Convention, which spelled out humane treatment for prisoners of war. Buchenwald was anything but. It was a concentration camp. It’s major purpose was the extermination of as many prisoners as possible, without regard to any human rights. If the dawn to dusk slave labor, lack of sufficient food, or lack of medical aid did not kill you first, a sadistic guard would. Allied prisoners of war were not supposed to be detained in this manner, but the German’s didn’t care. They had labeled these men terrorists, accused of killing women and children in the Allied air raids. They had been left there in Buchenwald in secret and would remain until they all disappeared, one way or another. The horrific sights, the sounds of suffering, and the constant smells from the camp crematorium became a constant unforgettable part of Joe’s life. His emaciated body and tortured soul would survive this and other camps to eventually see his mother and family again. At first he tried to tell his story. The true story of all his suffering, but he was not believed. The American people had not yet been awakened to the truths of the massive suffering to which other people around the world had been subjected. Joe was to suffer with nightmares throughout most of his life, as did many other servicemen who witnessed the horrors of war. This is an excellent retelling of the life of a true American hero. One of uncounted many who served our country.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    In the course of my long public library career, I have reserved many a Tom Clavin book for patrons who count among his ardent fans, but this nonfiction book is the first one of his that I myself have read, and I am greatly impressed. In exquisitely patient prose, Mr. Clavin allows us to accompany Washington (State) farm boy Joe Moser from his starry-eyed boyhood dreams of becoming a pilot to the precipitous U.S. entry into World War II after Pearl Harbor that hastened the trajectory of that boyh In the course of my long public library career, I have reserved many a Tom Clavin book for patrons who count among his ardent fans, but this nonfiction book is the first one of his that I myself have read, and I am greatly impressed. In exquisitely patient prose, Mr. Clavin allows us to accompany Washington (State) farm boy Joe Moser from his starry-eyed boyhood dreams of becoming a pilot to the precipitous U.S. entry into World War II after Pearl Harbor that hastened the trajectory of that boyhood wish fulfillment, specifically by training to become a P-38 fighter pilot with an elite band of similarly smart, brave, idealistic, and focused young men, none more so than Joe. The reader accompanies him on dozens of increasingly nail-biting but ultimately successful missions, zipping farther and farther eastward over enemy territory in Europe, until late summer of 1944, when the worst happens and his trusty P-38 is precipitously shot down over France. Captured and uncooperative, Lieut. Moser is sent not to a Geneva-Conference-approved POW camp as he expects, but to Buchenwald, the infinitely more brutal concentration camp in Germany already bursting with Jews and others the Nazis consider "undesirables." Joe and his fellow captured Allied flyers are imprisoned in a special "Little Camp" section where sadistically gruesome treatment awaits, and where sometimes pure luck tips the scales toward a man's survival more than either his wits or his strong constitution, even in combination, could do. Buchenwald's horrors and deprivations have been well documented in scores of other books, with the unpredictability of each inmate's new day rarely proving to be anything other than even more horrendous than the day before, and thus even more gut-wrenching, but the hardest part about life at Buchenwald in particular for Lieut. Joe Moser and company may well have been the fact that their colleagues and countrymen outside the camp had no idea that they were even alive at all, let alone what immoral, illegal, and downright inhumane working and living conditions they and their fellow skeletal prisoners in the "Big Camp" alongside were being subjected to daily. It would take a courageous (and crafty) few to finally maneuver to get the word out to these pilots' Allied commanders back at headquarters, but at such a late date (near war's end, with Hitler near desperation) that it was already too late for many, who had already succumbed from the rigors of Buchenwald or the subsequent torturous "death march" for kilometers in harshest, most frigid winter weather. From first page to last, Joe Moser emerges as the most decent of men, a model of real heroism and self-sacrifice in the face of unspeakable depravity, and it is a real privilege to accompany this real-life hero and experience his ultimate emancipation. "Well done, good and faithful servant. . ." and very well done by Mr. Clavin, as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Bestselling author Tom Clavin has brought the dark past back to life and light in LIGHTNING DOWN, a stirring account of the perils faced and ordeals suffered by American airman Joe Moser, who was captured by the Nazis near the end of the war in Europe. Moser was one of many American farm boys who had dreams of becoming a pilot. It seemed like an impossible goal until war broke out on December 7, 1941. He was expediently trained and deployed to Europe to fly a P-38 Lightning, one of the military’s Bestselling author Tom Clavin has brought the dark past back to life and light in LIGHTNING DOWN, a stirring account of the perils faced and ordeals suffered by American airman Joe Moser, who was captured by the Nazis near the end of the war in Europe. Moser was one of many American farm boys who had dreams of becoming a pilot. It seemed like an impossible goal until war broke out on December 7, 1941. He was expediently trained and deployed to Europe to fly a P-38 Lightning, one of the military’s finest crafts, manufactured in answer to the call to defeat Hitler’s Luftwaffe. When the P-38 crashed in occupied France in August 1944, Moser and his cohorts from America, Canada and New Zealand were put in cattle cars and shipped to Buchenwald, among the worst of the Nazis’ notorious concentration camps. The pilots, given the designation Terrorfliegers, were to be treated as prisoners of war, a step or two above those who had entered the camp as Jews or traitors to the Reich, whose torments and extermination they would soon witness. Clavin makes starkly clear the minute-by-minute horrors observed and experienced by Moser and his companions. The men were placed in vastly overcrowded quarters, put to work in the camp’s quarry, and given worm-filled soup and bread made of sawdust for sustenance. They would watch as those around them were systematically tortured, hanged or simply shot at the slightest sign of disobedience, or merely for the sport of such evil, sadistic captors as Karl-Otto Koch and his demonic wife, given the nickname “the Bitch of Buchenwald.” Moser’s extreme deprivations ended when the camp where he was housed was liberated by American forces the following April. All cheered to the sight of the raising of the stars and stripes where a swastika once had flown. Clavin has constructed an account filled with harrowing images that will linger in readers’ minds as they doubtless lingered in Moser’s memory. In fact, his own family didn’t know the full range of those experiences until Moser, in his 80s, collaborated with Gerald Baron on his memoir, A FIGHTER PILOT IN BUCHENWALD, from which, among many other sources, Clavin has mined much material. Reading this war and captivity history as seen through the eyes of a strong, resilient survivor is a true education, surely far more disturbing than any fictional “horror story” --- because it really happened. The comfort comes as we learn that some fortunate few survived and, like Moser, came home to lives of quiet prosperity and enduring patriotism. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Are you interested in WWII aerial exploits? What about escaping pilots in the French countryside? Nasty Nazis? Survival by the skin of your teeth? Well, then join Tom Clavin as he lays out the tale of Joe Moser, Lightning pilot on his 44th mission that went very wrong and what happened after. Joe Moser grew up in Washington state on a farm who dreamed of becoming a pilot of the P-38 Lightning. He got his dream job as a pilot with the 429 Squadron of the Ninth Air Force based in England. He flew b Are you interested in WWII aerial exploits? What about escaping pilots in the French countryside? Nasty Nazis? Survival by the skin of your teeth? Well, then join Tom Clavin as he lays out the tale of Joe Moser, Lightning pilot on his 44th mission that went very wrong and what happened after. Joe Moser grew up in Washington state on a farm who dreamed of becoming a pilot of the P-38 Lightning. He got his dream job as a pilot with the 429 Squadron of the Ninth Air Force based in England. He flew bomber escort missions as well as ground attack missions. On his 44th combat mission, his plane was hit and he had to parachute out of his plane. Some French farmers tried to help, but he and two of the farmers were caught by the Germans. Joe ended up in Fresnes prison in the hand of the Gestapo. Shipped out on the last train before Paris fell to the Allies, Joe and many others ended up at Buchenwald Concentration Camp as one of 168 Allied fliers accused of being Terrorfliegers. Only due to a surprise visit by a Luftwaffe officer, did the Allied fliers escape being executed, instead they were transferred to a regular POW camp. But then with the Russians approaching, the POWs were marched out in January on a harrowing trek to another camp in Austria where barely survived until the US Army arrived. Joe returned back to the Bellingham, Washington area to marry and become the "local furnace guy." He did not talk much until late in life when he started reconnecting with fellow survivors and had his story make the newspaper rounds in 1982. In 2009, when he was almost 90, Joe collaborated with Gerald Baron to write A Fighter Pilot at Buchenwald. Joe Moser died December 2, 2015. Tom Clavin provides a narrative with plenty of asides that brings to life one of the great survival stories of WWII in Lightning Down. Joe Moser rose from humble roots to become a fighter pilot, survive not just Buchenwald, but also an epic trek in the January 1945 winter that almost killed him. Yet he came back home, found a job and raised a family without fanfare. He is a true American hero that everyone should know!

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is the story of P-38 Lightning pilot, Joe Moser and his experience fighting the Germans in World War II. He is shot down over France and captured. by the Germans and then his (mis)adventures really begin. For some reason the Germans took 168 allied pilots and designated them "terrorists" and this gave them the "right" to NOT put them in normal POW camps. Where do they all go? To Buchenwald, the German work (to death) camp. The description of Buchenwald conditions and treatment of prisoners i This is the story of P-38 Lightning pilot, Joe Moser and his experience fighting the Germans in World War II. He is shot down over France and captured. by the Germans and then his (mis)adventures really begin. For some reason the Germans took 168 allied pilots and designated them "terrorists" and this gave them the "right" to NOT put them in normal POW camps. Where do they all go? To Buchenwald, the German work (to death) camp. The description of Buchenwald conditions and treatment of prisoners is as horrific as you might imagine. The amazing part of the story is that Himmler orders all 168 pilots murdered (to hide the fact that they were being treated unlawfully according to the Geneva convention) and they get within days of being executed before a Luftwaffe pilot discovers their plight, takes it to Goring (head of the Luftwaffe) who orders the pilots moved to a "normal" POW camp. It's a remarkable story and demonstrates that the Luftwaffe was not involved with the terror of the SS camps. Are Mr. Moser's trials over? No. Not by a long shot, but you'll have to read the rest of the book for that. Mr. Moser is saved in one incident by the selfless aid of two other POWs who literally drag him through brutal cold to shelter. Mr. Moser says: "Waking up in the hospital realizing that were it not for the love—I can call it nothing else—of two men who themselves were suffering and near the end, gave me a perspective on life and living. When you truly understand you owe your existence and joys to others who had no real reason to sacrifice themselves for you, it is hard not to be affected or changed for the good." Another fascinating memoir of ordinary men acting in extraordinary and heroic ways.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Martin

    In the hands of a better author, this book could have been great. However, the odd syntax and awkward sentences made completing it, a chore. For example : "The Allied airmen continued to be confused about where they were: How could this possibly not be a camp for prisoners of war who would have the protection of the Geneva convention?" I suspect Clavin was attempting to present Joe Moser's thoughts as they occurred. This format doesn't work well for him or the story. Clavin LOVES to begin sentenc In the hands of a better author, this book could have been great. However, the odd syntax and awkward sentences made completing it, a chore. For example : "The Allied airmen continued to be confused about where they were: How could this possibly not be a camp for prisoners of war who would have the protection of the Geneva convention?" I suspect Clavin was attempting to present Joe Moser's thoughts as they occurred. This format doesn't work well for him or the story. Clavin LOVES to begin sentences with "but" & "It", often many times within the same chapter. This creates short choppy sentences that I had to ensure I had read properly. He also writes sentences that are long enough to be an entire paragraph. In pages 2 & 3 of the Prologue alone, Clavin writes: "But not far enough before they were spotterd by the German guards." "But no one moved." "But the journey would not end, day after agonizing day." "-but it was not the one the airmen expected." "But after less than five minutes of fresh air they were herded back in again." The story of airmen held at Buchenwald is riveting. The SS under Himmer considered them "terrorists" rather than "POWS" because France was technically not at war with the Allies. I was tempted to put the book down many times. This was, by far, one of the most poorly written WWII books I have read. It simply can not compare to those of World War Two historians such as Lynne Olson or Neal Bascomb. I expected a book similar to "Unbroken." I am glad to know of the struggles of these downed airmen, but very disappointed in the presentation.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Debra Pawlak

    I was given an advance reading copy of this book by NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. When Allied Pilots were shot down and captured by the Germans during World War II, they were considered 'terrorists'. Instead of being sent to a POW camps as they should have been under the Geneva Convention, many of them were sent to a notorious concentration camp--Buchenwald--located near the city of Weimer. No one knew of their whereabouts and for the most part, these men were listed as 'missing in I was given an advance reading copy of this book by NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. When Allied Pilots were shot down and captured by the Germans during World War II, they were considered 'terrorists'. Instead of being sent to a POW camps as they should have been under the Geneva Convention, many of them were sent to a notorious concentration camp--Buchenwald--located near the city of Weimer. No one knew of their whereabouts and for the most part, these men were listed as 'missing in action'. Author Tom Clavin's book is centered on Joe Moser, a young boy who grew up on a farm in the State of Washington who ended up in Buchenwald with 168 other pilots from places such as New Zealand, Canada and England. The men elected the most senior officer in the group as their leader--a twenty-something New Zealender. They agreed that no matter how dire their circumstance got, they would stand together and still act like soldiers. Their bravery in such horrific conditions is nothing less than inspiring. Most of us will never face the things that Jose Moser and his fellow prisoners did, but their story is what true heroes are made of. Tom Clavin is one of my favorite authors. His research is outstanding and his books are written in a friendly, down to earth fashion. You can always depend on Tom Clavin to tell a good story and give you the facts. I highly recommend this book and any other book that Mr. Clavin has written. And just so you know, Joe Moser and his fellow pilots are truly heroes that walked among us.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This is an amazing story by a truly gifted writer. Portions of it look at the historical parts of Joe's desire to fly, the unique aircraft, and a basic picture of our participation in WWII. The author is able to weave all the info together both from general facts and Joe's previous interviews and gives details that put me into the story. Then, the plane goes down and from that moment onward you will not read, but experience the horrors of the concentration camp as well as a POW facility. Joe was This is an amazing story by a truly gifted writer. Portions of it look at the historical parts of Joe's desire to fly, the unique aircraft, and a basic picture of our participation in WWII. The author is able to weave all the info together both from general facts and Joe's previous interviews and gives details that put me into the story. Then, the plane goes down and from that moment onward you will not read, but experience the horrors of the concentration camp as well as a POW facility. Joe was fortunate enough to have flyers from several countries to help boost his morale and to devise plans to help the men be able to endure their conditions. Their mental strength is unmatched and each chapter led me to wonder how anyone could remain positive and dare dream of the future of hopefully going home while enduring the cruel, harsh reality that their next breath could be their last. The odds were all but impossible, the flyers met and avoided days appointed for their deaths. I do recommend all readers to not give in to a temptation to read ahead or take a peek to see how the story ends. Stay and absorb each page, feel each emotion, and never forget what you read. Read it from the first word to the last. It is that meaningful. I respect the honor and dedication of these heroes, I regret the fact that they had to endure the evil they faced every day. You will be as amazed with this story as I am and will find you will never forget it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A digital copy of this book was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the story of pilot Joe Moser, who during World War II was shot down over German occupied France. He was captured by the Germans, and thinking he was heading to a POW camp in accord with the Geneva convention, he was sent to Buchenwald. Joe Moser's dream was to fly planes. Then Pearl harbor was attacked, and he was drafted. After years of training, he finally went off to Europe at the end of January, A digital copy of this book was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the story of pilot Joe Moser, who during World War II was shot down over German occupied France. He was captured by the Germans, and thinking he was heading to a POW camp in accord with the Geneva convention, he was sent to Buchenwald. Joe Moser's dream was to fly planes. Then Pearl harbor was attacked, and he was drafted. After years of training, he finally went off to Europe at the end of January, 1944. Once there, the pilots had to go through more training. Finally he was able to fly. On that fateful day, his 44th mission, he was tasked to bomb "anything that moves" - trains, tanks, cargo. I have read a few books about the Jewish prisoners in the concentration camps, but I have never read about the Allied soldiers that were contained there. This book has some graphic sections explaining some of the tortures, the meals and the overall life in camps. Some of these sections are fast little snippets. This isn't just the story about Joe. There are in depth descriptions of other Allied soldiers that were at Buchenwald and how they were captured. This tends to break up the timeline a bit as it goes back to narrate when an individual was born and how they became part of the Allies or French Resistance fighters. This book was very well researched to bring to the readers all the events from August 1944 to April 1945. Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Tom Clavin.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tom Washington

    Amazing story that is not well known of 168 downed Allied airmen shot down in German-held territory during 1944 in the Paris France area. Initially imprisoned as criminals in the Paris Fresnes prison along with captured members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) by the SS, the airman and the other prisoners were loaded on the last train to leave Paris and taken to Buchenwald concentration camp instead of to a POW (prisoner of war) camp as mandated by the Geneva Convention. After several mo Amazing story that is not well known of 168 downed Allied airmen shot down in German-held territory during 1944 in the Paris France area. Initially imprisoned as criminals in the Paris Fresnes prison along with captured members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) by the SS, the airman and the other prisoners were loaded on the last train to leave Paris and taken to Buchenwald concentration camp instead of to a POW (prisoner of war) camp as mandated by the Geneva Convention. After several months in Buchenwald and just prior to their scheduled execution date, through the intervention of a Luftwaffe officer, the remaining airmen (153 of them) were transferred to a Luftwaffe Stalag III (scene of the "Greatest Escape") near the Polish/German border. With the Russian Army approaching and within miles of liberation, the airmen were marched during a bitter-cold winter in January 1945 to Nuremberg to another Stalag and then transferred again to a Stalag in Moosburg where liberation came in late April 1945 just before the end of the European war. This book is an important look at a little known story of courage and fortitude exhibited during WW II. Nobody believed the airmen returning to home because of the suppression of news about the Concentration Camps in the USA for a long time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This was a very good world war 2 story, about one downed Airman who gets captured by Germans in the summer of 1944. The primary focus of the book is on Joe Moser, but a big point of the book is to reveal that about 168 downed allied pilots were - contrary to the Geneva conventions - imprisoned not at a POW camp but instead were held for several months at the concentration camp Buchenwald. This is a stunning admission that most people didn’t believe in the immediate war’s aftermath, and it really This was a very good world war 2 story, about one downed Airman who gets captured by Germans in the summer of 1944. The primary focus of the book is on Joe Moser, but a big point of the book is to reveal that about 168 downed allied pilots were - contrary to the Geneva conventions - imprisoned not at a POW camp but instead were held for several months at the concentration camp Buchenwald. This is a stunning admission that most people didn’t believe in the immediate war’s aftermath, and it really wasn’t accepted by most people until the 1980s. One line about the concentration camp Buchenwald from the book stuck with me that Joe says, “it’s even worse than you can imagine.” Please note that this is a world war 2 survival story, there’s no Great Escape type of adventure going on, to be clear. Although that episode and the movie are referenced in the book seeing that one of the camps the pilots were briefly imprisoned at was the camp made famous by the book and movie The Great Escape. The gold standard for this type of WW2 survival story remains in my opinion “Unbroken”, the book not the milquetoast mediocre movie. Laura Hillenbrand’s book of that title is where I recommend a casual reader interested in this subject matter to start with. Then, if you liked that, then maybe check this Lightning Down out.

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