FLIGHT OF EAGLES by Jack Higgins


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Another crowd-pleasing, if somewhat wooden, tale of steely heroism and stiff-upper-lip bravado from the prolific Higgins. Returning to the WWII settings that he knows so well, Higgins (The President’s Daughter, 1997, etc.) puts a pair of identical twin flyboys, one American, one German, on opposite sides of the war. The story begins in 1997 in Cold Harbour, a lonely Cornish village—and once a secret spy base—where the real Higgins and his real wife Denise find themselves after surviving a crash-landing in the English Channel. There, Zee Aeland, a crusty innkeeper, turns emotional when he glimpses Higgins’s teddy bear Tarquin, which the author purchased in an antique shop. Aeland tells him that Tarquin’s original owner was dashing Jack Kelso, a wealthy, thrill-seeking American vet who fought for the British before the US entered the war. Recovering from a crash- landing of his own in France, Kelso met and married his hospital nurse, the impoverished German baroness Elsa von Halder, who later—after her husband insisted on returning to the States—gave birth to twin sons Max and Harry. Because he was ten minutes older, Max also became the new Baron von Halder. Then, in 1930, Jack died, and took Max to his ancestral homeland, while Harry stayed in Boston with his rich grandfather, brooding, and finally taking Tarquin with him to fight for Finland against invading Russians. By page 60, Harry has joined the RAF (as a Finn!), and Max, a.k.a. “The Black Baron,” is clicking his boots among the Nazis. Using the two boys to show that ineffable daring, chivalric nonchalance, and the ability to execute a flawless Immelmann turn can transcend political borders and ideologies (both Max and Elsa rapidly develop sour opinions about Hitler). Women, spies, tyrants and combat buddies come and go, but teddy bears, brotherly love, and a tearjerker conclusion win out. An old-fashioned, sentimental ode to chivalric virtue and family values: Not as suspenseful as Higgins’s best, but well grounded in historical detail, lightened by amusing encounters with Hitler, Himmler, and other factual fiends. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)

Pub Date: May 11th, 1998
ISBN: 0-399-14376-9
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998


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