Author: J. M. Taylor
Publisher: Screaming Eagle Press (2009)
Binding: Paperback, 222 pages
Faces streaked with soot or burnt cork, over six thousand paratroopers and glidermen of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles jumped or crashed into the swamps, canals, hedgerows and villages of the Cotentin Peninsular of France sometime after midnight on the sixth day of June 1944.
Over four hundred C-47 Dakotas carried the Screaming Eagles through the darkness and into a thick cloud bank that night. One load of pathfinders crashed into the English Channel. Planes were seen to explode in midair. Others crashed and burned past all recognition, probably due to ground fire. Just before dawn, the initial glider serials slammed between the hedgerows, into trees and each other. Many planes safely delivered their troopers to their designated drop zones. However, come dawn eighteen planes, each carrying a stick of fifteen to twenty paratroopers, were missing.
As so often happened that night, many paratroopers found themselves alone. Some quickly banded together, others wandered for hours, evading Germans and capture. Some were all too quickly made casualties, either by the hard landing or German fire. Others were taken prisoner. Some of the real stories are even harder to fathom than the stories in Missing Sticks, a fictional account of a handful of those missing men, representative of those declared casualties in real life.
Book of the Month, July 2009
You need to constantly remind yourself this is a work of fiction while reading Missing Sticks. First of all it reads like you are there; this event really happened. A segment of the Airborne that was supposed to be the early attack force went missing, and there has been conjecture and theory as to why. What takes place in this fictional story is what author J.M. Taylor envisions might have occurred. In a C-47 over France with the 101st Airborne, going into France on the night before the D-Day invasion, someone screws up. What results is the dropping the troops at the wrong time/in the wrong DZ and into a hostile environment, with all sorts of early warnings for the bad guys (Germans/Nazis)
Reading Missing Sticks has the reader ducking live ammo and running with the combatants for your life.This is a very believable story, from its authenticity of surroundings to its dialog between airborne soldiers. The latter generates true concern from the reader as to which characters will live or die, and that makes the telling of this story all the more real. At the end of the story, I wanted everyone to get back to their unit and then to get home after the war.
I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to others. Readers who served or lived through WWII will especially appreciate the kinship in this story (I'm a student of WWII, lived through it, and had a cousin and uncle who both served). I loved this masterful and powerful FICTION, with it's short, easy to follow chapters and very detailed, concise maps, positioned strategically throughout the story.
Reviewed by: Larry Purcell (2009)