Rough War: The Combat Story of Lt Paul J Eastman, a "Burma Banshee" P-40 & P-47 Pilot
Author: Walt Shiel
Publisher: Jacobsville Books (2011)
Binding: Paperback, 274 pages
"One of the most unusual and insightful stories of a young American at war, and it has a particular significance for today." --from the Foreword by Walter J. Boyne.
Paul Eastman was one of thousands of fighter pilots who served honorably, bravely, and with little fanfare during World War II. He did not end the war as a celebrated national hero. No air base was ever named for him. He never became an ace. He never became famous. Paul spent 20 months flying daily combat sorties in one of the most difficult environments of the war -- the China-Burma-India Theater.
Paul Eastman maintained a daily diary throughout the war, covering his life in the air and on the ground. "Rough War" is based on those diaries and the many letters he wrote to his wife. His letters professed his love, expressed his post-war hopes, documented his ongoing fears, and voiced his concerns for his wife and family stateside. Would he survive the war? What would he do afterward?
Although the CBI has been labeled the "forgotten theater" of WW II, Paul Eastman's story helps ensure that the men who fought the air war over its unforgiving jungles and mountains will never be forgotten.
"Rough War" is an important story that makes an equally important connection to the effects of war on the members of the US military today.
"'Rough War' presents a history of the making of a combat fighter pilot. Interspersed with World War II events and in-theater events from the rarely mentioned CBI theater are writings from Paul's journals and letters home detailing his journey into and through combat. While aviation technology changed for America's next war in SE Asia, the threats of the jungle, monsoon, and a determined enemy created similar issues during my own fighter-pilot experiences in Vietnam." -William H. Lawson, Brig. Gen., US Air Force, Retired
"This book brings back lots of memories of my time in that part of the world. In '66-'67 our combat maps of Vietnam and Laos still had large holes of data, and we had to work our way to the war and home just like Paul did. I really enjoyed the format -- chronological, big picture, CBI, and Paul's War helped put it all in perspective. Here's to you, Paul. As we say in 2011 -- Thanks for your service and a job well done." -Ace Rawlins, Col., US Air Force, Retired
Winter 2011 Reading List
Rough War is a very well documented, historical account of an American pilot’s experiences while flying and fighting in World War II. The story of Paul J Eastman, a young man from Wisconsin who volunteers to fight for the United States shortly after Pearl Harbor, is truly fascinating, and Walt Shiel does an excellent job in setting forth that story in this book. In 1943, as a fully trained fighter pilot, Eastman is sent to India and then onto Burma to fight the Japanese. Drawing from Eastman’s personal diary and from letters that Eastman had written home, the author compiles an “up close and personal” view of an airman’s life in the jungles of Burma along with his experiences in combat in the skies over some of the toughest environments faced in WWII. The author does a superb job summarizing events happening in the overall war, and within Eastman’s theater of combat, alongside Eastman’s personal experiences.
I liked this book and found it to be both entertaining and educational. This is a book that should be included as recommended reading somewhere in an officer’s professional military education. I specifically recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about WWII, airpower, the Chinese–Burma–India Theater of operations during WWII, and those studying the emotional impact of long exposures to combat.
Reviewed by: jim greenwald (December 2011)