Cover Image: Damn Lucky

Damn Lucky

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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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My grandfather was the waist gunner in a B-17 during World War 2. He rarely talked about it, but after he passed away we found a certificate declaring him a member of “The Lucky Bastard Club” for surviving 25 missions over Germany. When I saw this book about a pilot (John “Lucky” Luckadoo) with the same experience I had to read it.

The overall style of the book is a bit uneven. Parts read like a relatively impersonal history book and other parts seem very informal and reads a bit like a “docudrama” in that the author seems to be filling in what his subjects “must have been thinking/feeling” (unless he’s working off amazingly detailed interviews from someone with an incredibly precise memory).

Stylistic oddity aside, I found the subject matter riveting. The author manages to give a sense of the helpless doing-my-duty-and-waiting-to-die feeling of flying repeated WW2 bombing runs. It’s truly amazing that anyone survived the “magic number” 25 missions! This is well worth a read if you are into military history.
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This amazing biography of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, is gripping from start to finish.  
   Fighter pilots were the romanticized career of the time, Lucky and his friend Sully wanted to be one.  WWII was still gearing up and Lucky was unable to enlist with Sully because at his age (18) he needed his father's concent.  Then Pearl Harbor was attacked and Lucky was on his way to becoming an Army pilot, but not as a fighter pilot.  He was assigned to be a bomber pilot instead.  
  From here on Lucky's story is a fight to survive the odds and make it home.  After 25 missions bomber crews tour of duty was considered over, because most didn't live to see the end of 25. 
    This biography is full of fascinating details of the time and reads more like a novel that a documentary. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.  
   Despite his humble arrived about what he didbin the War, Lucky is a hero. He just celebrated his 100th birthday.  I enjoyed his personal note at the end of the book as well.

   Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for the opportunity to experience this e-ARC biography. And Happy Birthday 3/16/22, Lucky and thank-you for allowing your storybto be told.
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Damn Lucky is an amazing read! Author Kevin Maurer has put in the time and research to bring us the story of Lohn "Lucky" Luckadoo, an American bomber pilot during World War II. I was stunned by the detail and swept away by the actions of Lucky, a member of the greatest generation, who is a hero in every way. The fight scenes had me breathless reading in my easy chair - I can't begin to imagine what it was like to live through them!

The reality of war, the sacrifices made, all are brought to light here. Don't miss this book! Take your opportunity to read it and admire all that is within its pages. My parents were members of the greatest generation, and I doubt there will ever be another one like it. With our world seemingly gone mad, it would be wonderful if such a generation would rise again and "reset" our values and ethics.

My sincere gratitude to St. Martin's Press for publishing this fine book scheduled for publication on 4/19/22. They allowed me the privilege of accessing and e-ARC via NetGalley. All thouughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own and are given freely.
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John "Lucky" Luckadoo served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and was Lucky as his crew mates called him. Kevin Maurer wrote Lucky's memoir and did a fabulous job.

I love history and especially about WWII. My grandfather was part of the greatest generation, and I enjoy reading books about WWII. It gives me an insight into what he could have gone through while in the Marines. So, this book was just up my alley.

Maurer took me on Lucky's journey from when he first heard Pearl Harbor had been attacked ending with him being in his 90's. Lucky only had to fly 25 missions over Europe before he could come back to the USA.

Maurer wrote so that I felt like I was right in the plane with Lucky. Of course, he did some extra research, which you can tell. As well as Lucky telling his story to Maurer. I think my favorite part of the book was at the end, when Lucky wrote a message to the reader. It so resonated with what is happening today in America.

If you enjoy history or books about WWII, I recommend you read Damn Lucky. It comes out April 19, 2022.

Thanks to Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Maurer for the opportunity to read Damn Lucky. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me a digital ARC of this book.  The opinions are my own and freely given.
My review will be posted on the following sites: Instagram, Goodreads, Bookbub, and The Library Thing.  The review will be posted on 4/12/22.

This is the story of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, 21-year-old Lieutenant of the Eighth Air Force's 100th Bomb Group.  
When Pearl Harbor is bombed and America enters the 2nd world war, Lucky enlisted to become a pilot, something he has dreamed of becoming for years.  He becomes a pilot of the bomber planes, in charge of a 10-person crew.  The bombers are commissioned to fly 25 missions and can return home.  Most don't make it to 25.  This book chronicles Lucky's life during pilot school, through to his arrival at the air strip in England.  The book starts at his 22nd mission, one of the bloodiest air battles during the war.  I honestly didn't know much about the air war during World War II and this book was very informative and taught me a lot.  I highly recommend, if you are interested in World War II, Americans role in the "air war" or any surviving veteran's story.  Thank you Lucky!
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Best friends John Luckadoo (Lucky) and Sully from Tennessee were desperate to become bomber pilots after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour during WWII.  At nineteen Lucky joined the US Air Force and Sully joined the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Based in England, their tour of duty took them into France and Germany where they faced constant horrors of war, abject fear and death.  They were required to serve twenty five tours but realistically most survived only eight to twelve.  Many survived fewer.  Bomber pilots faced four major enemies which are all described in this book.  

After training Lucky became a B-17 pilot and flew through the dreaded Luftwaffe, experiencing fires, killed engines and comrades and shrapnel from flak funs.  But the author also describes ordinary daily functions from a war perspective such as going to the bathroom while flying.  Frostbite at sustained elevations was not uncommon but war made everything exponentially more difficult.  Lucky's scary missions and relationships with co-workers are highlighted.  The author ends describing Lucky's life after flying.

Military History buffs would really be enthralled with this book but it would also appeal to those who study WWII in general.  The author wrote armed with first-hand accounts, media and other resources.  I like that he met Lucky himself a few years ago when he was in his nineties.  Telling such stories is very important.  Reading this story makes me feel smarter.  Amongst other things I learned more about the Norden bombsight and specific tours.

My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this incredible story about spiritual, emotional and physical survival under nearly impossible circumstances.
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This book tells the story of John “Lucky” Luckadoo and his quest to be a fighter pilot, but ended up copiloting and piloting bombers over Germany in World War II. It also contains some information on his best friend from his childhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Leroy “Sully” Sullivan. Sully joins the Canadian Air Force to get involved in the war early, but their paths cross when both are stationed in England.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook and my nonfiction book review blog.
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The Story of John "Lucky" Luckadoo's experience as a B-17 pilot in World War II based on his firsthand recollections and personal thoughts as told to author Kevin Maurer. A great story that showed the bravery and commitment of the Army aviators even under the high casualty daylight bombing strategy of the US bomber forces (the British bombed at night) and seemingly arbitrary 25 mission tour of duty. The high crew losses, and absurdity of some actions, such as having a co-pilot stationed in the tail gun without training when his seat was taken by a mission leader, were eye opening and Lucky's conflicts with his fellow aviators and the brass of the Army Air Force and later Air Force weren't glossed over. A well written book that conveyed the bravery of flying bombing missions over Europe out of Thorpe Abbots, England with the 100th Bomb Group facing the extreme conditions of the bombers and stiff Nazi resistance as well as the honest feelings of one young pilot who made it through the war. I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley.
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A compelling tale of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, a bomber pilot for the Bloody 100th Air unit during WWII. This  work of non-fiction gives you a glimpse into what it was like to fly bombers over Europe during the early years of American's involvement in WWII. Told in 3rd person, we are taken through Lucky's early years, training days, and finally some of his missions. Beautifully told and written.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this memoir of a World War II pilot.

Kevin Maurer in his book Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History, tells of the exploits of John "Lucky" Luckadoo, who joined the service after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Trained as a pilot Second Lieutenant Luckadoo was assigned to the 100th Bomb Group flying out of England over France and Germany between June and October of 1943. The average crew lasted only about nine to twelve missions, and with a tour of duty lasting twenty five missions, Lucky as he was called, would soon be testing that nickname quite a bit. 

Major Luckadoo, was not just a lucky pilot, but a hero to his crew and those he inspired later. His forward, his afterword and many of the accounts come from his own words an are inspiring and full of real emotion. The writing of the book does not live up to this. The book is just ok, not historical, not a memoir, sort of a mix of British boy's own and men's adventure. Lucky is used way too much in the book, something again from the Wingman adventure novels, plus considering the man is around to write a pretty decent afterward, the reader just does not get a good sense of who the man was. Not to take away Major Luckadoo, but the writing does a disservice.

The book is a ok overview of the air campaign against the German forces, with a bit of information on what it was like to be a pilot during the war. A nice father's day gift for uncles and grandparents who aren't too in to history but like to read about World War II and the men who fought in it.
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This isn't the kind of book I usually read but when I read the description I found it to be very interesting.  And it was.  If you are an aficionado of World War II, you will love this book.  And if you are someone who is interested in the life story of a very interesting man, you will love this book.  Damn Lucky is an account of Lucky's 25 missions that he survived.  And stories of those who didn't.  Superb book!
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I received this as an ARC through Netgalley.  Damn Lucky is a memoir about one pilots journey from flight school in WWII to after the after war.  Lucky sure lived up to his name, surviving 25 flight missions over Germany.  I loved how even though there were details and facts about the planes, it was not overwhelming by any means.  I felt very privileged to be able to read a first hand account of Lucky's experience during WWII.  Not many of the greatest generation left and not many that want to talk about it..  If you're interested in WWII fiction and non fiction and want to read a first hand experience, pick up Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer, you will not be disappointed.
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If you are interested in World War II history this is the book for you.  The author did a tremendous amount fo research on lucky as they talked about these dangerous missions.  Wow cant believe how many they did and how many did not return or go POW.  We have so much to be thankful for in this country for the men and woman who gave it all for our freedom.  Thank you for writing this book!
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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 a very interesting and important wartime story, delving into what WWII pilots had to endure.  I couldn’t imagine the stress that being a bomber pilot. 

Thank You to NetGalley for my advanced copy to read and review.
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