Jerri Gibson McCloud neatly packages a love story, a family drama, and a hard-hitting shoot'em up war action into a book that entertains and informs. At various moments, The Liberators makes one misty-eyed, sympathetic, euphoric, and cringing in horror at the vivid up-close experiences of aerial combat during World War II.
The author's knack for grouping words in a dramatic, descriptive fashion makes the reader feel he is in an airplane being shot to pieces by German fighters. While reading, one feels they are in the airmen's minds as they fight to control fears so the mission can be completed. Your adrenalin pumps with a gunner's desperation of destroying an enemy plane before it destroys your plane. You feel the terror of watching your buddies go down in flames.
The Liberators follows Andrew Walters from telling his family he has dropped out of college to join the Army Air Force, to training as a B-17 bomber pilot, to combat in Europe where he meets a hometown girlfriend serving as a Red Cross Nurse, to being shot down over Germany, and to surviving the deprivation of being a prisoner of war. Walters struggles to overcome his own insecurities as he holds his crew together, completing one harrowing mission after another until their luck runs out. Captured after being shot down, Walters faces different leadership challenges against adversaries in a POW camp.
While he is in England, Walters has a reunion with a high school classmate who works at a nearby military hospital. After he is transferred to Italy, she has to cope with sexual harassment from a senior officer as she struggles to remain faithful to Walters.
Although the bulk of The Liberators follows the adventures of Captain Walters, his war experiences are skillfully interwoven with the different issues faced by his family back home in North Carolina and their emotions after receiving the dreaded telegram: Your son is missing in action.
I recommend The Liberators.
Author: Jerri Gibson McCloud
Reviewer: Joe Epley