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Three Books About World War II: "A Higher Call,"� "Let Me Go,"� and "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed"


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Whether it's fiction or non-, my taste in books tends to anything that's well-written, no matter the subject.  Every once in awhile, though, I trip across a volume that's so compelling the quality of writing takes a back seat to the story.  Here are three I've read in the past few years.

Near the end of World War II, American B-17 pilot Charlie Brown was shocked and terrified when he realized his crippled plane was being escorted by a Messerschmitt 109.  In 1990, the two pilots actually found each other and shared their stories.  Adam Makos, a history buff and reporter who didn't understand the difference between a German and a Nazi, researched the hell out of this true story and in late 2012 published "A Higher Call".  The book focuses largely on Franz Stigler, telling the story of how a patriotic German who hated the Nazis came to commit a treasonous act as a matter of honor, but it also follows the American pilot's wartime career and delves into the aftermath. Well-researched and plainly told, It is truly one of the most compelling tales I've ever read.

"Let Me Go" (2005) is Helga Schneider's memoir.  She and her brother were abandoned by their mother in 1941, and decades later she found her mother again and heard the story of a woman who believed Hitler to be a hero and never repented joining the Nazi Party, even as she was dying in an Austrian nursing home while her daughter tried to come to terms with her mother's war crimes.  The writing is plain and no better than anything you'd find on a latter-day blog, but again the truth of this story is so compelling I recommend it without reservation.  Well, one reservation: it is profoundly disturbing.  But it is important.

Less compelling then the other two, "Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed" (1979) by Philip Hallie tells a little-known story of a village in occupied France that decided to do something about the atrocities around them, savings thousands of peoples' lives.

A Higher Call

Let Me Go

Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed

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