Friday, February 2, 2007

Red Star Against the Swastika: The Story of a Soviet Pilot over the Eastern Front by Vasily B Emelianenko

One of the best memoirs I've read about the war. The stories in this memoir are at times very moving. The missions they had to accomplish, the sacrifices made (a pilot rams his plane into a column of German tanks and trucks), the lives lost whether to the enemy or by mere accident are incredible. The editing job on the book was quite poor, again and again I found grammatical mistakes on many pages. Yet that shouldn't take away from the great stories that this author was kind enough to share. If one wants to understand what really went on, in this war to the death on the Eastern Front, specifically in the skies, you will not be disappointed in this book.

At the end is a helpful list of those pilots who were MIA and KIA throughout the war, the sheer volume of losses is impressive. Few survived the war, yet even so they flew on mission after mission and struggled to get to the front whether from rear area services or from hospitals after being wounded. One pilot who lost both his legs trained to fly again, but in the end was rejected. Another returned to lead a regiment but perished in an accident. As much as you will be presented with death in this book you will never get used to the fact that again and again someone will not return from a mission or will be seen diving toward the ground in a burning plane.

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