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Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival Paperback – September 20, 2022
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An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive.
On August 13, 1944, Joe Moser set off on his forty-fourth combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down tells this largely untold and riveting true story.
Moser was just twenty-two years old, a farm boy from Washington State who fell in love with flying. During the War he realized his dream of piloting a P-38 Lightning, one of the most effective weapons the Army Air Corps had against the powerful German Luftwaffe. But on that hot August morning he had to bail out of his damaged, burning plane. Captured immediately, Moser’s journey into hell began.
Moser and his courageous comrades from England, Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere endured the most horrific conditions during their imprisonment... until the day the orders were issued by Hitler himself to execute them. Only a most desperate plan would save them.
The page-turning momentum of Lightning Down is like that of a thriller, but the stories of imprisoned and brutalized airmen are true and told in unforgettable detail, led by the distinctly American voice of Joe Moser, who prays every day to be reunited with his family.
Lightning Down is a can’t-put-it-down inspiring saga of brave men confronting great evil and great odds against survival.
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"This book is an absolute winner for your Dad, your Granddad, your uncle, anyone who’s a veteran or a World War II buff or readers seeking a tale of heroism. Find it now, and let “Lightning Down” strike you." ―Terri Schlichenmeyer for Commercial News
“Clavin’s latest, like his other histories, reads like a novel and it will keep readers turning the pages …This is an engaging and captivating story capturing the courage and strength of humanity under extreme conditions. Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
"Clavin writes Moser's remarkable story into a heartrending tale of human endurance." ―Booklist
"The journalist and bestselling popular historian returns with the story of an American soldier who survived Nazi terror...Scrupulous, squirm-inducing...A fast-paced account of a little-known POW experience.” ―Kirkus Reviews
"Clavin paints the horrors of life in the concentration camp in harrowing detail. The details Clavin unearths ... are grimly fascinating." ―Publishers Weekly
"Lightning Down is a historical biography that contains the information of a textbook while reading like a novel … Clavin’s style and structure induce enough suspense to keep readers wrapped up in the moment. And, despite the horrors that Moser experienced and Clavin describes vividly, Lightning Down has an overarching positivity and celebration of resilience." ―AP News
"A gripping tale of survival." ―World War II magazine
"Clavin has constructed an account filled with harrowing images that will linger in readers’ minds as they doubtless lingered in Moser’s memory...Reading this war and captivity history as seen through the eyes of a strong, resilient survivor is a true education." ―BookReporter.com
"Lightning Down is indeed a thriller. The writing is great, easy to read and digest with full emotions...a near perfect suspense story." ―Argunners magazine
"Lightning Down is a wonderful testament to the human spirit, an incredible story of courage and resilience, of one man's heroism both in a cockpit in the skies above Nazi-occupied Europe and in Buchenwald, the dark heart of the Third Reich. Don't miss this nail-biter from a true master, Tom Clavin." ―Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of Against All Odds
"When a quiet American farm boy named Joe fell in love with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, he had no idea that his dream of becoming a fighter pilot would catapult him into one of the most harrowing stories of World War II. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down whisked me from the rural peace of the Pacific Northwest to aviation heroics on D-Day, from a nightmare prison train to a Nazi concentration camp, from a brutal frozen death march to a German POW camp that pushed thousands of men to the outer edge of human endurance―and beyond. This shocking true tale of a small band of American flyers imprisoned by the Third Reich is at turns horrifying and triumphant, revealing the galvanizing power of battlefield brotherhood and the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit. I began rooting for Joe on Page 1!" ―Lynn Vincent, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man
"Buchenwald was the place no allied airman was supposed to wind up―but they did. In this priceless eyewitness history, one of WWII’s most incredible stories has finally found its teller. Lightning Down is a riveting read that will leave you with a cold shiver." ―Adam Makos, author of the NY Times bestseller A Higher Call
About the Author
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin (September 20, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250830389
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250830388
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.38 x 0.87 x 8.13 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #112,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Mr. Clavin has done it again. He has brought history back to life and underscored the importance of never forgetting our past.
This story is about World War II American pilot, Joe Moser.
Upon Joe Moser’s forty-forth combat mission over occupied France, he is forced to bail out of his burning plane. Captured almost immediately, his journey into hell begins.
He was imprisoned in the infamous German Concentration Camp, Buchenwald. The atrocities to humanity that took place in this camp are detailed and stand as proof of how sinister humans can become toward their fellow human beings. What Mr. Moser and others went through is pure horror.
Fortunately Mr. Moser and other captured airmen survived. When Mr. Moser was reunited with family and community in his hometown in the state of Washington, there were some that would not believe what Joe went through. It wasn’t widely known, for one the US Government didn’t want it known and for another it was hard to believe that the enemy could be that evil.
Over decades information was released that validated Mr. Moser’s and others accounts.
Mr. Moser and the other servicemen from the allied countries are true heroes and their service saved our world. The people of this generation are known as the greatest generation and thank God for them.
Thank you Mr. Calvin for this book. It is a true history lesson that should be continually shared and never forgotten.
- page 26: after leaving Boston, "The Excelsior...zigzagged its way west..." England is EAST of Boston
- page 79: "As the parachute opened, he glanced down down and saw the brown-green ground amazingly close, and getting closer as he fell at 400 mph." Really? The world record for a free fall parachute descent is 373 mph and the normal free fall rate is 120-160 mph. Once the parachute is deployed (as described in the book) the normal rate of descent is approximately 17 mph.
- page 126: "Margaret Ilse Kohler... joined the Nazi party in 1932 when she was just sixteen..." Ilse Koch (nee Kohler) was born on September 22, 1906 so in 1932 she would have been 26, not 16.
It's really frustrating to read an historical accounting that contains obvious mistakes.