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A deeply moving story of the abortive and gallant gesture of the inadequately prepared British forces in Greece and Crete, as experienced through Flight Lieutenant Quayle, of the Eighty Squadron, a closely knit group of fliers sent to carry the burden of air defense just as the Germans began moving down into Greece. Through his story one virtually enters into the intensity of emotional experience, the dog fights, the unequal battle against terrific odds, the sense of personal loss as one after another pays the ultimate price, and the growing sense of futility and anger and despair and resentment of the stupidities and blindness of staff, headquarters, bigwigs away from the battle front. Interwoven with the war is the sharply etched love story of Quayle and Helen Stangou, a Greek girl with a hospital unit, first in Athens, then in Janina, and the poignancy of his need for her, a need which carries him through the Italian lines when he is shot down behind them, and back to Janina, and then on -- with her -- to Athens, and to Crete. One shares a growing understanding and affection for the men of Greece who refused to be defeated, even when the Fifth Column betrayed them. Finally, after a second escape from fallen Crete, and with a new unit in Africa, Quayle gropes his way towards a realization that a cumulative bitterness and resentment, contributed by the many, will bear fruit -- perhaps not too late. The end -- almost inevitable -- is better realism than fiction, as it should be. The publishers are backing this substantially. Serialization in Colliers may affect the immediate sales, but the book has what it takes to make a permanent place for itself in the literature of war, a merging of skilled reporting, critical objectivity, a sense of plot and people.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1942
Publisher: Little, Brown