TUMULT IN THE CLOUDS by James A. Goodson


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James Goodson's WW II began aboard the Athenia, torpedoed off the Hebrides in September 1939, and reached its near-end in a Berlin air raid shelter: ""No!"" shouted prisoner-in-transit Goodson, at the all-clear. ""It's not over yet. More are coming. There's a second wave!"" And, as his guard confirmed, he knew: ""Goody"" Goodson, then 22 or 23, was a leading ace of America's leading Fourth Fighter Group. His story of the years between often recalls a buddyship-and-guts WW II movie: enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force; the saga of fellow-trainee Mike Sobanski, from devastated Warsaw to D-Day; absorbing RAF ""savvy and spirit""; transfer to a decimated, demoralized American squadron--insanely ordered, by its new CO, to take off from a tiny grass airfield in formation. ""That evening Blakeslee wasn't the only 133 pilot with the belligerent swagger as we arrived in the officers' mess. . . . It had become a squadron characteristic."" Goodson apotheosizes his all-American mates--the brilliant daredevils with ""natural flair,"" and the pluggers, who ""made it the hard way."" Kid Hofer: stunting with his dog in the pilot seat; acting out ""in the dog-house""; shot down by another Kid, German ace-of-aces Erich ""Bubi"" Hartmann. ""Millie"" Millikan, from Malvern, Iowa--""where his father's heavy drinking and Irish temper kept the family desperately poor""--who survived combat and a POW camp to have an outstanding postwar air career. At a pre-D-Day meeting, Goodson sees Eisenhower solicit input from everyone--but (said Ike) ""It's too late for great ideas."" He takes up issues: fighter pilot discipline or feats, bomber support or ""kills""; the England-Russia-Italy shuttle raid, showing ""that no part of Germany's world was safe from the air."" When he's knocked out, destroying a prototype jet, the story tightens, thickens--through his capture, a duel of wits with the Gestapo, the Berlin raid, an insidiously civilized Luftwaffe interrogation. Goodson believes in good and bad Germans, and misses no chance to have at the Russians. The air war was for him, with all its horror, the best of times. Forceful, romantic, comradely: an authentic reflection (if not the whole) of the way it was.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's