Cover Image: Damn Lucky

Damn Lucky

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Member Reviews

While the description of this one intrigued me, I knew it could be hit or miss for me. It was a little to dense on the historical aspect for me and I was hoping for a little more interactive dialogue to keep it active. I struggled to find the desire to want to read this one, though it will be a big hit with strong historical fans!
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"D*** Lucky," written by Kevin Maurer, is the memoir of Major John "Lucky" Luckadoo, who flew as a pilot and copilot with the 100th Bomb Group during WWII. I've read many WWII books, and specifically books about the air war over Europe, but "D*** Lucky" contained all sorts of first-hand information that I hadn't encountered before and that only someone who was actually there could provide. Maurer apparently conducted exclusive interviews with the 99-year-old John Luckadoo, and his combat recollections--particularly about the extreme cold at high altitudes and about what a Fokker plane streaking toward you would actually look and feel like from the cockpit of a B-17--are what makes "D*** Lucky" come alive. The centerpiece of the book, a sequence detailing the 100th Bomb Group's ill-fated October 1943 mission to Bremen, was absolutely gripping. I only wish that Maurer had not chosen to include some very unflattering details about members of Lucky's first crew, given that these men, identified by name, are most likely not alive to defend themselves and that their families may be reading the book. WWII and aviation buffs will definitely enjoy regardless.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with an ARC of this title in return for my honest review.
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A fascinating study of the physical and psychological challenges facing bomber pilots and crew in WWII.   The author brings you into their world,  allowing to get to know the hero on a personal level.   I highly recommend this for anyone interested in the war and its effects.
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Highly recommend! Wow! This was one great book about a fighter pilot in World War II and his determination and luck to survive 25 missions during the bloodiest military campaign in history. I adored this book mainly because my British grandfather was in the RAF as a Uboat bomber! He didnt talk about the war & the missions so I truly loved hearing from a fellow pilot. I loved John’s story of strength and endurance & his kindness to his fellow soldiers.

I was in awe of his perseverance & powerful story! I truly couldnt put it down and was so lucky to receive this Advanced Readers Copy from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press.

Synopsis—This is the true story of a World War II bomber pilot who survived twenty-five missions in Damn Lucky, “an epic, thrillingly written, utterly immersive account of a very lucky, incredible survivor of the war in the skies to defeat Hitler”

“We were young citizen-soldiers, terribly naive and gullible about what we would be confronted with in the air war over Europe and the profound effect it would have upon every fiber of our being for the rest of our lives. We were all afraid, but it was beyond our power to quit. We volunteered for the service and, once trained and overseas, felt we had no choice but to fulfill the mission assigned. My hope is that this book honors the men with whom I served by telling the truth about what it took to climb into the cold blue and fight for our lives over and over again.”
―John “Lucky” Luckadoo, Major, USAF (Ret.) 100th Bomb Group (H)
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John "Lucky" Luckadoo was a bomber pilot in WWII. He dropped bombs over Germany under heavy fire, protected by his Bible and his girlfriend's silk stocking he wore around his neck like a scarf. He completed 25 missions and returned home after the war. 

Kevin Maurer does such a great job writing about John Luckadoo's experiences during the war. I found myself completely sucked into the story from the start. The detailed descriptions of battle, air combat and the daily life of the airmen are mesmerizing, intense,  and so interesting. I can only imagine how horrible and frightening the entire experience must have been for pilots. Anyone with an interest in WWII history will enjoy this book. 

This is my first experience with Kevin Maurer's writing. An award winning journalist and war correspondent, Maurer tells this story with skill. I'm definitely reading more of his books. I've already got 3 of them added to my TBR list! 

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St. Martins Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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I read this as an electronic version thanks to Net Galley. Because of that, I had to wait until the end to find out that it is a true story, which i had hoped was the case. The book reads like a novel. "Lucky" is 2LT John Luckadoo as the book starts. This is Lucky's story from a young man on. He hopes to be a fighter pilot, but because of his height he has to pilot bombers. Besides piloting, he is made operations officer. That was one of many things I learned in this book. I enjoyed reading a really good description of the action inside bombers under attack. At the end, there is an afterword from Lucky about his life. The author says that the narrative is mostly from interviews with Lucky in 2020. The book is very enjoyable.
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The harrowing tale of a bomber pilot in World War II, Damn Lucky tells the story of John “Lucky” Luckadoo and his training and deployment with the 100th bomber force stationed in England. Told in an accessible narrative style, this chronicle of one man tells of all those willing to fight and dreaming to fly. I could have used more in-depth primary anecdotes and quotes, but it is well done and easy to get lost in. 

Thank you to St Martin’s Press and Netgalley for my free copy. These opinions are my own.
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I received a free electronic copy of Damn Lucky from Netgalley, Kevin Maurer, and St. Martin's Press.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read the details of this historical event of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.  Both my husband and I thoroughly absorbed this work.  I am pleased to recommend it to friends and family. 

In Damn Lucky, we ride in the cockpit and on other less commodious seats contained in the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in the skies over Germany from the summer of 1943 through the end of WWII.  Damn Lucky is more like a diary of the pilot in that each section of the mission is broken down into what happened, what German pilots did, what Lucky did, and the repercussions of those actions.  

Kevin Maurer takes us there and tells it like it was.  I think I got a clearer picture of the individual sacrifices made by our military aviators from this novel than I did in all my previous readings covering this time frame.  This is an excellent book to add to your WWII knowledge base.  Maurer is an author I will want to follow.
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Are you looking for a really good true war story?  If you are, then you should definitely pick this on up!  John Luckadoo  was an Air Force pilot who flew missions over Nazi Germany to help destroy the war machine.  He flew 25 missions, way more than other pilots, and somehow survived.  This is his story, told from his firsthand accounts.  This is definitely a book to read if you are at all interested in a pilot's perspective.
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I received an advance reading copy (arc) of this book from in return for a fair review. When John Luckadoo (aka 'Lucky') was in his first year at the University of Chattanooga, the unthinkable happened--Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Like most of the nation, he was left stunned by the events that unfolded. Suddenly, the United States was at war with both Japan and Germany and Lucky did what many young men did, he enlisted in the Army. He always dreamed of becoming a pilot and was accepted into flight training. It wasn't easy, but he made it and was sent to England, where he flew multiple missions in a B17 bomber. His goal was to complete 25 missions after which he was allowed to go home. It seemed impossible as most flyers were fortunate to make ten. They were either killed in a crash or taken prisoner. Lucky flew through machine-gun fire, antiaircraft flak, and fought subzero temperatures. Remember, these giant planes were not heated and the crew flew for hours in special suits that were plugged in to keep them warm. Author Kevin Maurer brought it all to life as he described the danger, as well as the deadly discomfort. It is hard to imagine what these men endured as they flew directly into enemy territory, knowing full well they may not come back. John Luckadoo faced enemy fire because that was his job. His main concern was to bring his crew back alive and in one piece. The greatest part of this book was knowing that Lucky is still with us at the tender age of 99 and he wrote the afterword with an important message we all need to hear. Thank you, sir, for your service and for sharing your important role in the Second World War. Your heroics should never be forgotten!
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A Mesmerizing War Story

John “Lucky” Luckadoo from Chattanooga Tennessee enlisted right after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Trained as a pilot for B17s, Lucky flew 25 missions and returned home. This was in a time when most pilots flying over Germany only survived eight to ten missions. Lucky deserved his name. 

The book details the life of Lucky and his friend Sully. Sully joined the Canadian Air Force also as a fighter pilot. Both were stationed in Britain and were able to spend time together, especially on memorable weekend In London in 1943. 

The missions flown by Lucky were particularly dangerous being during the day. The British crews flew night missions. The book vividly describes the flights over targets like Berlin with German fighter planes and ground fire all around. In addition to describing the flights. The author follows the men from training through the rigors of the flights including the icy cold inside the bombers that sometimes caused frostbite. The author also discussed the officers who trained the pilots and those who commanded the squadrons. Some were good people, but as in all situations, some were incompetent and difficult.

I thought the author did an excellent job bringing the reader into the world of the pilots. I found it much better than fiction to understand what these heroes went through. The description of the psychological pressures was hard to read, but extremely well done. I highly recommend this book. 

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.
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People might live their entire lives and never have more than a fleeting idea what it was like for those veterans who fought in the skies during WWII. Personally, I never before felt the emotions that author Kevin Maurer was able to draw out with his bio-history of John “Lucky” Luckadoo. 

Luckadoo was in his late teens when he volunteered for the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor, and it was no secret that he wished to become a pilot. The story takes us through his training followed by his assignment in England where Luckadoo flew a Flying Fortress (B-17). Details of his 25 bombing runs into the heart of Nazi Germany make you feel like you are in the cockpit with him, and his experiences stop just inches short of unbelievable. Mr. Maurer’s descriptions will make you feel like you are reading a nail-biting thriller.

This is a great piece of war history. Rather than concentrating on the “glamour” of being a flyer, this book focuses on the reality of what men willo endure while performing a service to their country, their fellow citizens, and for themselves. Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this title.
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This is a story that could only be told by someone who actually experienced the fear and uncertainty of a bombing raid in WWII.  Kevin Maurer drew on interviews with John “Lucky” Luckadoo and the archives of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation to tell Lucky’s story.  It is a story from the Greatest Generation, the people who went to war not knowing what they would confront and how it would affect them if they survived.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee Lucky and his best friend Sully dreamed of flying.  Sully was able to join the Royal Canadian Air Force with his mother’s signed consent but Lucky’s father would not allow him to go.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor he was accepted into the US Army Air Force where he was trained to fly bombers.  Through training and his arrival in England the story traces Lucky’s path.  When he is finally on his first mission you can feel the sheer concentration that was required.  As he faces German fighters you witness the devastation around him from the attacking planes and the flak near their targets.  While the crews worked as a unit, Lucky kept a certain detachment, finding it easier to face the loss of a crew member rather than a friend.  With a quota of twenty-five missions before returning home, it was an accomplishment to be celebrated.  Lucky progressed from co-pilot to pilot and was finally made an operations manager with just two missions to go.  

John Luckadoo’s luck continued to hold and at the age of ninety-nine retired USAF Major Luckadoo finally shared his story.  It is beautifully told and a reminder that we can accomplish so much when we work together.  Lucky’s story is one that I would highly recommend.  It is an inspiring story that I am sure I will revisit often in the future.  I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing my review of this book.
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Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History by Kevin Maurer. It is the true story of John :Lucky” Luckadoo, a World War II bomber pilot who survived twenty-five missions over France and Germany. Pearl Harbor was worlds away from Lucky’s , hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee but when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941, he didn’t hesitate, joining many men and women to service their country. Trained as a pilot with the United States Air Force, Lucky was assigned to the 100th Bomb Group stationed in Thorpe Abbotts, England. From June to October 1943, he flew B-17 Flying Fortresses. With a shrapnel torn Bible in his flight jacket pocket and his girlfriend’s silk stocking, worn like a scarf, as talismans as well as a prayer as Luckadoo flew through unbelievable conditions: Luftwaffe machine-gun fire and, anti aircraft flak, and subzero temperatures. Knowing many pilots who didn’t make it home, Lucky realizes that his success was more luck than skill. 
Drawn from Lucky’s firsthand accounts, Damn Lucky chronicles the extraordinary tale from war to peacetime, detailing feats of bravery during the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history. It is also the story of a young man who quickly grew from a naïve idealist to realize that war is not all glory. There was fear, pain and guts. It became less about fighting the war for their country but for their buddies and to survive and go home. According to a quote in the book’s synopsis, Mr. Luckadoo says, “My hope is that this book honors the men with whom I served by telling the truth about what it took to climb into the cold blue and fight for our lives over and over again.” Damn Lucky certainly accomplished that goal and more. I appreciated Mr. Luckadoo’s honesty about his experience and didn’t gloss over the ugly parts of war and battle. If you enjoy reading military history and personal accounts, I highly recommend Damn Lucky! 

Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History 
Is available April 19, 2022 in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook.
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I love WWII fiction and have really gotten into reading biographical fiction so it makes sense that I start reading historical NONfiction. Last fall for Nonfiction November, I read my first WWII nonfiction book and really enjoyed it. So when I saw Damn Lucky, I decided to give it a try. It is also about a pilot - John Luckadoo was a B-17 bomber pilot.

John "Lucky" Luckadoo has participated in oral history projects and other projects that aim to record the stories and history of "the greatest generation" but his whole story had never been recorded. Journalist and war correspondent, Kevin Maurer uncovered part of Lucky's story in a WWII archive and went in search of the rest of it. Damn Lucky is part historical biography and part personal memoir as Maurer relays Lucky's time in the Army with a sprinkling of historical facts.

What really struck me with this book was how new air combat was during WWII. I knew the WWII era was the infancy of avionics but Lucky's story really drove it home. 

There were also details about flying during that time that I hadn't read before. Like, I never realized that the planes were not pressurized and the crew was at the mercy of the extremely cold temperatures of high altitude flying - frostbite was a common problem. If you are an author of WWII fiction, this would be a great book to provide you with real, personal details that would enrich your fiction.

A lot of the book was about various battles, which I got a little bored with, but I can see it appealing to others. I'm much more interested in the personal interactions and there are some interesting and very touching moments. 

The book was also a reminder that we are losing so many of the personal stories from this era. Luckadoo was 99 at the time of the recording. I always make it a point to read the author's note at the end of the historical fiction books I read and so many times the authors mention how they relied on letters and journal entries. Maurer was able to interview Luckado and pick his brain so to speak. Luckadoo mentions in the afterword that this is the first time that he recounted his whole WWII experience. He couldn't/didn't want to talk about it when he returned after the war. How many men and women have died without ever sharing everything they experienced and all we can know is from a few letters or diaries (if even that)?

While Damn Lucky does not read like a history textbook, it also doesn't read like a novel. It is probably more like something you might read in Slate or The Atlantic.

If you are looking to learn more about WWII air combat or hearing the personal stories of a man who served, then this is a good book to pick up.

My review was published at Girl Who Reads -
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3.5 rounded to 4

Major John "Lucky" Luckadoo was a WW II pilot who survived numerous missions. He, like so many veterans, rarely, or never, talked about their experiences.

In an afterword, we hear his voice directly:" While being terribly proud to have served my country when called upon in time of need, I now view armed conflict as a sad commentary on adversaries' failure to reach a reasonable resolution of their differences"

It might be argued that there was no being reasonable with Hitler then, just as there is no being reasonable with today's warmonger, sadly. That said, I do wish there had been more from Luckadoo directly, though I can understand why he might be reluctant to relive it all again.

Mauer does a workmanlike job, at his best with carefully researched details about the planes and the missions. He's at his best when describing what it's like to be in the cockpit of a bomber under attack, while flying the skies. These passages were terrifically evocative.

Less successful, I felt, was dealing with personalities, some of whom might be alive today. But for the reader who would like the vicarious thrill of danger in the cockpit of a bomber plane during that conflict, this is sure to make a gripping read.
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Up until recently, most of the people in the United States today have lived through a period of relative peace and prosperity.  The standard of living is much higher than generations before us and life is relatively easy thanks to technology and a myriad of other distractions.  One could say we are "damn lucky."  Nothing brings this to life more than the story of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, an American bomber pilot from Tennessee during the Second World War.  Author Kevin Maurer tells this story in the upcoming release "Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History."  

Maurer provides vivid detail of Lucky's day to day life as he tries to complete the crucible of 25 flying missions required for pilots to finish their tour of duty during the war.  Not only did the pilots have to fight the Germans in the air, they also battled the elements, extreme discomfort in the aircraft, training accidents, their own personal anxieties and fears, homesickness, loneliness - the list could go on and on.  Just a few chapters in one immediately begins to understand why this group was called the greatest generation.  

Damn Lucky is an excellent gut check for Americans today as we embark upon a time of economic and global uncertainty.  It is a great study on the importance of perseverance, endurance, and pushing past your own fears to get the job done.  The book also delves into the dichotomy between being part of a team and working in unison not just as a crew on a plane, but an entire group of bombers flying in formation, while also keeping emotional distance to protect yourself from the inevitable losses of crew mates, fellow pilots, and soldiers.  I highly recommend this book, particularly for those interested in military history and service.
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Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer

John (Lucky) Luckadoo beats the odds and fulfills his dream after enlisting in the US Air Force in WWII. Lucky had a rough start, but finishes strong. 

Kevin Maurer takes his readers through Lucky’s struggles to become a pilot and to make friends along the way. There is a lot of interesting reading about the different jobs on board a B-17 bomber and the pilots’ responsibilities. He also describes many exciting air battles against German fighters, making the reader wonder how anyone survived. 

If success is sweet revenge, the Afterword will tell you that Lucky has been lucky indeed, as he is reminiscing for this memoir at 99 years of age. This book will appeal to any WWII history buff and lover of an underdog story. 
Many thanks to #StMartinsPress and #NetGalley for this ARC.
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Divine Intervention

A gritty and heroic story of a young WWII bomber pilot from Tennessee. Once two young men, John "Lucky" Luckadoo and his friend Sully decided to join the Canadian Royal Air Force to fight the Germans in WWII. The United States had not yet joined the war and they wanted to be fighter pilots. This sounded so exciting to them both. Sully's mother gave permission and he joined the Canadian Royal air Force as a fighter pilot. Lucky's parents would not give permission so he had to wait until after Pearl Harbor and he was old enough to give his own permission and he joined the U.S. Army Air Force and was trained as a bomber pilot.

With a bible in his pocket and his girlfriends silk stocking around his neck he went off to war. He soon learned it wasn't as exciting as he had thought. With little training the young men were thrown into action. Many perished and the sights and sounds he heard were horrific for a young man. He prayed each mission and he thought each time he returned that he was damned lucky to still be alive.

This is a story of war, of fighting and of one man's life as a bomber pilot. This is the story of John "Lucky" Luckadoo. It is the story of hope, faith, and loss. It is also the story that once you read you will never forget and you will know that war is evil and it is life consuming. It serves no purpose but the loss of life.

So many do not wish to share these experiences with us but I appreciate Mr. Luckadoo sharing his life so that we might know how it felt to be a pilot in the middle of a war.

Thanks to Kevin Maurer for writing Lucky's story and to Lucky for sharing his story with all of us,  to MacMillan audio for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me.
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One Man’s Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

This is a well-crafted biography of “Lucky” Luckadoo ‘s experiences during WW11 as a bomber pilot flying over Nazi-occupied France and Germany in 1943. Drawing from extensive interviews with 99 years old Lucky at the time of the writing, journalist Kevin Maurer recounts each mission in cinematic details and the emotional toll it took by the air war.

Lucky and his team Eight Air Force 100th Bomb Group conducted high-altitude bombing. 25 missions must be completed before their tour of duty ended. Statistics shown chances of survival were 1 in 10. They actually lived on borrowed time. Lucky’s Group known as the “Bloody Hundredth” suffered high casualties. Of the 40 men from his flying class that served in the 100th Bomb Group, only four completed a tour. They experienced terrible things and saw terrible things happen. Lucky was grateful to have survived.

This firsthand account not only uncovers astonishing feats of bravery it also represents an incredible portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age during the world’s most devastating war.

Mr. Mauner delivers an account with style; his words are clear, loud and lively. This engaging read is well-thought out, well-written and flows well. I loved passing time with this incredibly precise memory.

On a side note (not included in this book):

March 2022, John “Lucky” Luckadoo, the last survivor of WW11 bombing group celebrated his 100th birthday.
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