A Real Good War

(Fiction; Anchor Books, 1999)


The title A Real Good War can be read with different intonations, exposing the chaos that comes from trying to make a book’s worth of meaning out of armed combat. The reader quickly settles on an ironic inflection, because this, a truthful depiction of the experience of the American airmen over Europe during World War II, is essentially an antiwar tale. The setting is the Eighth Air Force, which sustained more casualties than the entire Marine Corps during the war: more than 72,000 men. The men who flew with the Eighth were unlikely to finish their tour of thirty-five missions without being captured, wounded, or killed.

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