Cover Image: Damn Lucky

Damn Lucky

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I highly recommend this book about John “Lucky” Luckadoo an American Air Force pilot who flew 25 missions in a B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II. The book describes in detail Lucky’s experiences throughout his time in war. Some thought provoking, some ridiculous and some experiences incredibly sad. The writing style makes it feel as if the reader is part of the crew, flying along side those who fought against one of the worst inhuman mad men in history.
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In World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corp waged a brutal air war against Germany and occupied Europe by day and British Bomber Command did the same by night.  The object of this campaign was to destroy German infrastructure and bring the German economy to a halt.  For the Eighth Air Force based in England, the B-17 Flying Fortress was the main weapon.  Each B-17 had a crew of 10 men armed with bombs and machine guns.  But despite the name, the B-17 was vulnerable to enemy fighters and flak.  The goal of every crewman was to survive 25 missions and return home.  But the average crew only lasted 10 missions, so a constant stream of new recruits were needed.  Damn Lucky is the story of John Luckadoo, a pilot of a B-17 during 1943 at the height of the air campaign and his 25 missions.
John Luckadoo had planned on being a fighter pilot.  He and his friend Sully planned on joining the Army Air Corp, but need two years of college before they could apply.  Then Sully heard about the Royal Canadian Air Force and joined with his mother's permission.  Luckadoo could not get parental approval, so he stayed in college until Pearl Harbor happened.  He then joined the Army Air Corp, but he almost did not become a pilot.  His flight instructor was terrible, doing everything by rote and by the book.  Luckily, Luckadoo go a second chance with another flight instructor and passed.  Instead of becoming a fighter pilot, Luckadoo was assigned to the B-17 as a pilot in the 100th Bomb Group.  In June 1943, the 100th Bomber Group flew across the Atlantic to England.  They were based at Thorpes Abbots in East Anglia.  Luckadoo  flew missions over France and Germany from June 1943 to February 1944 when he flew his 25th and final mission.  
John Luckadoo provides just enough details for Kevin Maurer to describe the course of several missions.  Each mission had its moments of tensions, but several missions were quite harrowing and nerve-wracking to read.  If you want to know what the air war was like over Germany in World War II, Damn Lucky is one of the books to read!  John Luckadoo was damn lucky to survive!
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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* 4.5, this was a really fascinating book, learned a lot from this book. His story is pretty amazing and every time i read books like this it reminds me how strong people can be. Would recommend!
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This was a fascinating memoir of an American bomber’s odyssey into war. We definitely need more stories like this from the World War 2 generation as well.
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John “Lucky” Luckadoo was a bomber pilot in World War II in the most dangerous period of the European theater, and he survived twenty-five bombing runs, which was unusual. This is his story, told to us by the skilled wordsmith Kevin Maurer, and narrated by Holter Graham and Luckadoo himself. My thanks go to Net Galley, St. Martin’s Press, and Macmillan audio for the invitation to read and review. 

The first portion of the narrative tells about Lucky’s early years, as well as his yearning to learn to fly. I feel a bit impatient as I read this segment, because I’m dying, like Lucky, to go to war. However, some of what I think is extraneous material proves to be important later on, so I’m glad not to have skipped anything. 

A quarter of the way into the story, and we’re off. I am impressed by the descriptions, which are brief and unmistakably clear, written for general audiences of today. An example is when he tells us that a Quonset hut looks like a tin can that has been split lengthwise, then put on the ground, cut side down. Everything, from the planes, to the target, to the flying conditions is easily understood without talking down to the reader. The chapters are a good length, and the dialogue crackles. But now, we have to talk about that. 

When anyone writes military history, whether it’s a biography, a memoir, a reference book, or any other nonfiction work, there must be citations for the facts and especially for quotations and dialogue. (I am proud of myself for not using twelve exclamation marks here; if there were an audio version of this review, I would be shrieking, so it’s just as well that we’ve stuck to print.) The author provides a bibliography at the end, and it. Is. Not. Enough. No, no, no! This is why so many writers in this field use historical fiction as a vehicle; the very best historical fiction communicates the same material, but is not bound to document facts. A bibliography alone would be just dandy for a work of historical fiction…which this is not. In fact, (said the American history and government teacher,) the four star rating is evidence of my appreciation for the clarity, organization, and pacing of this story; ordinarily I would go no higher than three stars for anyone in violation of this clear requirement. (Where was the editor?) 

Moving on. The pace in the middle segment is brisk, but I have no problem putting it down and walking away when I am interrupted in my reading. That all changes at the sixty-sixth percentile, when the B-17 pilots and crews are sent on a mission to bomb Bremen. This is a huge mission, and a very dangerous one, as they are trying to bomb the canal where German U-boats are housed in broad daylight. At the same time, Goering is done watching his pilots get pounded, and he orders them to fight to the last man, and those that will not will be transferred to the infantry (note here that the German infantry is starving and freezing; pilots are much better fed.) Consequently, their aggression in the air is unprecedented, with kamikaze-like maneuvers that none of the Allies have seen from Germany up till now. During the portion of the book, I would not have left this story unless my house was on fire. 

The callous decisions by higher-ups as to what an acceptable attrition level looks like, with about sixteen percent of active American airmen making it home alive after their service is done, is horrifying. 

I have read a number of biographies and other historical works regarding this topic, but nevertheless, I learned some new information. I recommend this book to readers that are interested, but not to researchers or students. 

Although the narrators do a perfectly fine job, I realize early that I cannot keep up with this level of detail without seeing the words, so I jettison the audio version and stick to the digital review copy. I recommend the audio version for those quirky souls that understand and retain spoken information better than print.
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This was a fantastic book and I am pretty sure that I annoyed everyone I work with because I wouldn't stop talking about this book! My first question every time I had a meeting was "Do you like to read?" and even if the answer is no, I told them how amazing this story is and how even if they only read one book this year, this is the book they should read. 

I work in Civil Aviation and it was really cool to learn about the planes that John “Lucky” Luckadoo trained on and flew. I can't imagine being asked to fly a plane into enemy territory with the amount of training they received.

Kevin Maurer does a fantastic job of telling Lucky's story. I cried a lot during this book, some happy tears but most were sad tears. Lucky outlived so many of his friends and fellow soldiers. I googled the heck out of Lucky as soon as I was done reading because I had to know if he was still alive. 

Thank you Lucky for everything you sacrificed and thank you Kevin for telling the story.
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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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