Cover Image: Damn Lucky

Damn Lucky

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Great historical nonfiction read! Highly recommend it to fans of the genre and those looking to expand their reading circle. Purchasing for library.
Was this review helpful?
Damn Lucky takes modern readers and plunges them into John "Lucky" Luckadoo and his friend's lives as they leave Tennessee and head off to war. Told through first-hand accounts and interviews, Maurer's book humanizes the tales many have seen in the movies or grown up with being handed down through the family. Yes, people are people and not everything they did was glamorous, but it happened. This is a must-have for personal history, military, and aircraft crew tales lovers.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.
Was this review helpful?
Review of Damn Lucky, by Kevin Maurer
Chances were, John Luckadoo wouldn’t make it back. “Lucky” needed to complete 25 bombing runs before going home or taking another assignment. Most bomber crew members only accomplished ten missions before being wounded, shot down, or killed.
Lucky’s original crew completed the required number of missions before he did, so he had to make his last few flights as the senior man with an unfamiliar crew. This made the odds of Lucky completing all 25 missions even steeper.
Lucky’s memoir, written by Kevin Maurer, explores the relationship dynamics of B-17 bomber crews, as well as Lucky’s personal fears and loss of faith. 
Lucky and his boyhood friend dreamed of being fighter pilots. His friend enlisted first, joining the Canadian RAF before America’s official involvement in World War II. Lucky enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and then almost washed out in his quest to become a pilot. On the brink of failure, Lucky got the backing of a patient instructor, and Lucky found the confidence to complete the qualification requirements. This instructor would again figure prominently in Lucky’s life.
Lucky dealt with a cowardly leader who thrust him into harm’s way, and experienced red tape that stymied him in the progress toward his goals. Lucky also experienced devastating loss, and so avoided becoming too close to the men he worked with. 
At times, the text has more tell than show, conveying facts and setting up for snippets of dialogue. But if you enjoy military memoirs, you’ll like Lucky’s story.
Now available for pre-order on Amazon.
Was this review helpful?
Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History
by Kevin Maurer

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This is the incredible true story of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, who survived 25 missions as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in WWII.  The book is written from first-hand accounts and interviews the author had with 99-year old Lucky.

Right after Pearl Harbor, 18-year-old Tennesseans Lucky and his best friend, Leroy “Sully” Sullivan, are determined to answer the call to duty by becoming fighter pilots.  While the United States required two years of college, the Royal Canadian Air Force only requires parental consent for those under 21.  Lucky’s father refuses to give consent, but Sully’s mother says she will sign if he feels it is the right thing for him to do.  Sully is off to war, and Lucky attends college, signing up as soon as he is able.

As part of the 100th Bombardment Group, Lucky and his team conducted high-altitude bombings.  The statistical chances for a heavy bomber crew to be lost on a mission were 1 in 10.  A 25-mission tour of duty means that once a flyer completes 10 missions, they are literally on borrowed time.  The group earned the nickname Bloody Hundredth because when they lost, they lost big.

Lucky’s detailed accounts of his missions are harrowing, and it is amazing that any flyer reached 25 missions.  Lucky describes flying through a storm of jagged metal shrapnel from the anti-aircraft flak guns, evading bombardment from the fighter jets as well as avoiding the steel cables the enemy trailed through American plane formations in order to fowl props or cut off the wings.  All this, while dealing with high-altitude loss of oxygen and below zero freezing temperatures.  On one mission, a hole in the plane caused the cold air to rush in at Lucky’s feet, which were frozen stiff.  When it came time to land, Lucky had to use his hands to lift his black and blistered feet in order to stand on the brake.

In his afterword to the book, Lucky states his hope that this book honors the men that served with him, telling the truth about what it took to climb into the cold blue and fight for their lives over and over again.  It may be difficult to read, but it is an amazing portrayal of the courage, selflessness  and sacrifice demonstrated by these brave men.

The author suggests the website www.100thbg.com for further reading.

https://candysplanet.wordpress.com/
Was this review helpful?
"Damn 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 "Damn 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 "Damn 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.
Was this review helpful?
I am grateful that Lucky spent time with the author so that we can know what life was like during this time.  It is important that these memories are saved for history.  

A family member of mine flew as a navigator in B-17s in Europe a little later than did Lucky, but from his own accounts, this book is quite accurate--not only in the combat sections, but also in the initial training parts, as well as what these men did before and after missions.  Besides giving the historical facts of that time, the author humanized what these men went through and how the experiences molded them into what they became after they came home.
Was this review helpful?
I like history, and I like accounts of individuals, either autobiographical or third-person.

I'm sorry, but I don't like this book. Its great flaw is that the main "character" has no personality. None. We never feel like we know him. He's just a guy in the book who does stuff. The book would be improved greatly if we heard actual dialogue. Many biography writers do that, letting us know that of course there are no recordings, but the conversations are reconstructed from witnesses and recollections.

And this may seem petty, but it really is a serious flaw. We read the name "Lucky" way, way too much. The author badly needs to get on friendly terms with good ol' pronouns. At least 2/3 of the "Luckys" ought to be replaced by "he", "his", and "him."
Was this review helpful?
I have just finished reading Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer.

This is a true story of a WWII Pilot who survived 25 flights, before heading back home to the US.

The story of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, is told through the writing of Kevin Maurer.

The book is of a very interesting and important wartime story, delving into what WWII pilots must endure. It is simply written and told well.

Thank You to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Author Kevin Maurer for my advanced copy to read and review.

#netgalley
Was this review helpful?
An amazing story of a young man who joined the Army Air Corps and participated in some incredibly dangerous operations, including the daylight "precision" bombings in Germany. The losses of the Eighth Air Force were staggering -- the big bombers were vulnerable and many times entire crews were lost with overall casualty rates of 60-70%.

In an afterword, John Luckadoo comes across like many WWII veterans -- he did not talk about his war for years. Eventually a desire to recognize the achievements of his fellow warriors but also to call out strategic command errors that cost lives led him to put together a memoir.

The incredible drama of the story overcomes writing that at times is trite and repetitive. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for this honest review.
Was this review helpful?
“Damn Lucky” is one of the best World War Two veterans’ stories I have read!  Bomber pilot,  John “Lucky” Luckadoo, Major, USAF (Ret.)  was one of many bomber pilots of B-17s whose bravery helped end the war with Germany, in 1943!  His military account, from the bombing of Pearl Harbor, inspiring him and others enlisting to become pilots, to his retirement from the USAF after the post war years, is  incredible, and inspiring!  This no nonsense account of his missions,  flying over France and Germany, during the Air Force’ s infancy, shows the perseverance and bravery, piloting the huge bombers,  with minimal experience and against incredible odds, to fulfill missions, which he survives when many of his crewmen are not that ” lucky”!  An inspiring read from beginning to end!
Was this review helpful?
Damn Lucky tells the true story of “Lucky” Luckadoo who flew some of the deadliest missions of World War II during the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history. Lucky served with the 100th Bomber Group during the early days of the bombing of France and Germany from England. His story starts with his quest to join the Royal Air Force with his best friend before the war, through 25 missions in combat over Germany to the one mission—a raid over Bremen—where Luckadoo felt like his luck had run out.  The statistical chances for a heavy Bomber crew in Europe to be lost on a mission were 1-in-10. At a 25-mission tour of duty, statistically, once a flyer made it to 10 missions they were literally on borrowed time. Anyone who served a full tour and survived was remarkably lucky.  Drawn from Lucky’s firsthand accounts, acclaimed war correspondent and bestselling author Kevin Maurer delves into this extraordinary tale, uncovering astonishing accounts of bravery during an epic clash in the skies over Nazi Germany.

This was an amazing story.  I learned a lot about B-17 bombers and how they worked.  The author did an amazing amount of research. An Afterword from 99 year old Lucky Luckadoo was very interesting with his reminiscing about the flights and the friends he made and the ones he lost in battle.  This is a different look at World War II, from the sky, and well worth the read.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read it.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in WWII accounts.
Was this review helpful?
One of the most thrilling books I've read this year has described the View of a Pilot in one of the darkest times of mankind, with the light of Hope and Freedom, and the compassion and trust of Soldiers and those on duty. I really enjoyed this book, and I'd recommend taking this great adventure as there is so much that can be learned about World War 2 history, the unsung heroes of the war, as well as what their fears and dreams were during this period.
Was this review helpful?
Many, many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of this memoir.

“We were young citizen-soldiers, terribly naïve 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.”

During WWII, the skies over Europe were a terrible and deadly place to serve during the Second World War. American bomber crews in particular suffered high losses because their bombing raids took place in broad daylight.

I do not think there is anything equivalent today to what the men who flew daylight bombing raids over Europe during WWII endured. They
 climbed into a tin can and flew for hours in bone-chilling temperatures only to find German fighters and deadly flak waiting for them. Early on, they did not have Allied fighter planes, “little friends,” that could accompany them. They relied on the firepower of their Flying Fortresses’ guns and a lot of prayer. They watched friends and comrades shot down. Fortresses fell from the sky or exploded with such force that they seemed to disintegrate in mid-air, many with crew still trapped inside. Those who made it back to English soil knew only one thing: that until they completed the required 25 missions, they would be flying into the same hell day after day, never knowing if that was the day their ticket would be punched by flak or by the Luftwaffe.

John “Lucky” Luckadoo was first a B-17 co-pilot and later a pilot in the 100th Bomb Group, a group that would suffer some of the worst losses of the air war over Europe. In October 1943, over a three-day period, the 100th lost 87 Flying Fortresses and almost 900 men. Lucky flew through it all. His memoir is not only a tribute to those who were lost and those who accomplished their missions and came home, but it also tells of the terrible mental and emotional toll that such missions had on the crews who flew them. Lucky recounts the terrible attacks on their formations by German fighter planes, such as the Focke-Wulf 190s and Messerschmitt 109s, how they seemed to slice right through the tightly arranged B-17s, how he watched other B-17s begin to crash while his crew tried to count how many parachutes floated from the doomed bomber. He watched friends die, saw entire crews obliterated in explosions, and later sat through debriefings listening to how many 100th Bomb group planes and crews didn’t make it back.

“No memorial service. No closure. The casualties were too numerous to stop and mourn everyone, leaving those still fighting to continue onward.”

I think every American should have to read an account of a B-17 crewman in the air war over Europe. What these men did was so important to the war, to Allied Victory, and to the freedom of every person lucky enough to grow up in this country. People need to understand the toll that victory took on the men who carried out those missions. They need to know what those men sacrificed for this country and its people. Lucky’s memoir is an excellent account of this. I think the part that struck me the most is the Afterword written by Lucky himself. He talks of the terrible things going on in this country today, of how divided we are, and asks us to remember that we are Americans first and to not squander the sacrifices made by his generation. I couldn’t agree with him more.

After reading his Afterword, I did wish that he had written the memoir himself, from his own first personal point of view. I think it would have been even more gripping and impactful. There were a few minor things I questioned, like why the loss of his first B-17 was mentioned as an afterthought and not something discussed when it happened, and I wondered about some of the stories of other planes and crews that, until that point had never been mentioned before and were not mentioned again. Their accounts almost seemed out of place, but perhaps they were included by request of John Luckadoo. However, these are very minor things, and overall, I very much enjoyed reading about Lucky's service. I am glad this account has been recorded and that we will have it as a part of our history, so that we can always remember what Lucky and his generation did for us.

If you would like to learn more about the 100th Bomb Group, please visit: https://www.100thbg.com/
Was this review helpful?
My goodness.  As a frequent reader of World War Two history,  it is fortunate that many veterans in recent years have decided to write their memoirs.  It is not often to read such an amazing account like this well-written and astonishing story.  

Mr. Luckadoo tells a story that many Americans of his generation can tell, but his story is rather extraordinary,  He becomes a flyer and ends up flying B-17 bombers over the skies of Europe early in the war, when 25 missions was a target for completion that few ended up able to dream of achieving due to the vagaries of so many factors.   

The account here is fantastic.   I found myself really feeling the terror and tension of the flights described as "Lucky", his obvious nickname goes through the war.   

Since this is written by Kevin Maurer and not the pilot, I kept thinking the title referred to either the pilot becoming a POW, or dying on his last mission, but came to realize perhaps the man might make it through,   I won't destroy the wonderful tension in the narrative that its built up, but certainly this is not a book without horrible and sad stories,  As, of course, the air war killed so many young American boys.  As the point is made, there was a strange deal to insulate the veterans as they went along cheating death, which was not to get involved with the new crews,   But we learn in this account why that was a helpful piece of armor with a tragic death.

This is a really well-written book, and the account that is told to the reader is truly suspenseful and exciting,  It is also sad as we learn that the Lucky man is still haunted bu the tragedies and losses of so many,  '

An extraordinary account, and well-worth reading.   Highly recommended,
Was this review helpful?
Despite what they say, they are/were “The Greatest Generation”. This is the story of another one of those heroes. Thank goodness there are writers still digging out their stories so that “we may never forget” their sacrifices and heroism.
     This book is DAMN LUCKY by author KEVIN MAURER. The subject of this true story is John “Lucky” Luckadoo from Chattanooga, Tennessee. An important secondary character is Leroy “Sully” Sullivan from the same town. They were best friends and grew up together.  When WWII broke out, they both wanted to become fighter pilots. It was not to be. 
     Sully joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a fighter pilot. Lucky entered the United States Army Air Corps as a B-17 bomber pilot. Both ended up in England not far from each other. It took a while before they realized how near they were to each other. They spent a very memorable weekend in London in 1943. Lucky met Sully’s girlfriend Lady Peggy who owned a private club in London, and polo horses.
     The Eighth Air Force was the U.S. overall command unit for American air forces in Europe. Among its early leaders were Generals Curtis LeMay, Billy Mitchell and Jimmy Doolittle, icons of the world of military aviation before, during and after the war. 
     It was decided by the American and British commanders that American bombers would conduct high altitude, daylight, “precision” bombing. The British would do nighttime saturation bombing. U.S. bomber personnel had to fly 25 missions before they could return to the United States. Their life expectancy was about 10 raids. Losses were extremely heavy at times. Everybody wanted so-called “milk runs” over less heavily defended targets.
    During the course of the story, the reader gets to feel the terror of flying over targets with German fighter planes and German antiaircraft cannon fire all around the bombers. The American bombers had an aid called the Norden Bombsight that allowed the bombardier to control the final approach to a target. Unfortunately, it was NOT as accurate as it was claimed to be. Lucky’s missions took him over submarine bases in France, V-1 rocket sites, the city of Berlin and more. The reader is right there in the planes with Lucky and his crews. The British thought they were “Overpaid, oversexed and over here!”
     Not only is this a war story, it is also the story of the men who were on the frontlines and their families at home. Some of the men that flew with or commanded Lucky were great people. Others were unfit to command but that is what war does. Even after the war, Lucky had issues with the Air Force but managed to overcome them. He met his future wife in Bryan, Texas. She was the daughter of an American Ambassador. Her father never approved the marriage of his daughter to a pilot. She was destined for bigger fish.
     The author was fortunate to be able to actually talk to Lucky when he was nearing 100 years old. He also used other sources, which he documents at the end of the story.
     If you are a fan of biographies, war stories, history and/or human interest, then this is a book for you. If I could, I would give this book more than five stars. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
GO! BUY! READ!
Was this review helpful?
One Man’s Courage During The Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

The incredible true story of John “Lucky” Luckadoo, who survived 25 missions as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in WWII.

John “Lucky” Luckadoo truly was damn lucky. He and his best friend enlisted together. With John having a college degree, he was put into a bomber.

This guy flew 25 missions in combat. This was a pretty amazing stat considering what the odds were of him coming home alive.

The story is written from his firsthand accounts by Maurer. The actions scenes were incredible and the bravery of this generation is inspiring.

There was a lot of nail-biting going on in this read. Comparing the planes we have now to what they had then, I’m surprised anyone signed up for that job and came home.

Heartbreaking, inspirational, and a darn good read!

NetGalley/ April 19th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
Was this review helpful?
I would like to thank St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complementary copy of the ebook. I thank Stephen Erickson from St. Martin's Press for reaching out to me regarding this amazing book.

John "Lucky" Luckadoo was indeed Damn Lucky among the fighters who survived the WWII. Raised in well to do family in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and dreaming about being a soldier, and then almost failing one of his air force exams, Lucky , just 22, was a B-17 pilot who became a part of 100th Bomb Group, and completed 25 combat missions, in which he felt it was his luck that helped him survive all of them, which otherwise was very rare. 

The book describes in vivid details the horrors of the war, conditions of the pilots, mental emotions faced by everyone. I recently read Lightening Down by Tom Clavin, which was also sent to me by St. Martin's Press via NetGalley and both these books provided me with a different perspective about the WWII. While I have mostly read fiction based on true events of WWII survivors of holocaust, these two books provided a different viewpoint, although Lightening Down was also about surviving holocaust. Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer provided me with the viewpoint of the bombers and those who manages to survive, who otherwise were destined to die. The horrors Lucky faced were so much that he didn't speak about them for over half a century.

Kevin Maurer has described the events with his writing style that brings the scenes infront of the eyes of the reader. The language, style of writing and presentation of the details and true events are what I found interesting as a critic of the book.

This book releases on 19th April, 2022. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves to read about military, WII and life of fighter pilots.
Was this review helpful?
The story of Second Lieutenant John “Lucky” Luckadoo, a B-17 pilot with the 100th Bomber Group in WWII. Lucky flew 25 raids from England to Europe in 1943, before the fighters obtained belly tanks that allowed them to escort the bombers for the entire mission. Most bomber crews were shot down within 8-10 missions. The chance of surviving through the 25th mission and earning a trip home was about 25%.   Lucky lived up to his nickname and survived the war and is still alive and telling his story at age 99. 
The story is well written by a professional writer. It gives the inside story about bomber missions, including the extreme temperatures endured. One ball turret gunner had to urinate and suffered front bite when his rear end froze to the plexiglass turrent. He was awarded a Purple Heart but refused the medal because he didn’t want to have to explain how he got it. 
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I found John "Lucky" Luckadoo's story really interesting. it was an amazing read because of how interesting the story was done. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Was this review helpful?
War is hell. Except air war, which is flying hell. Maurer tells the story of one WW2 B-17 pilot and his experiences in the skies over Europe. 2nd Lt. (at the time) John Luckadoo lost many compatriots to the aerial battles he was involved in, yet he survived.

A non-fiction biography, “Damn Lucky” illustrates both the dangers faced by bomber crews and the make-up of their non-combat lives. It is well told by Maurer from a series of interviews with Maj. (ret.) Luckadoo, who still lives.

I rate this book 4 stars. While there are areas that are romanticized, “Damn Lucky” takes an honest look at what life was like for B-17 crews. My memory of having once met a B-17 pilot was recalled; I now have even more respect for him and his fellow airmen. 

My thanks to St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?