Shot Down (Book) Review

by Milly Wonford
Shot Down

Released: 15th August 2014
RRP: £17.93
Publisher: SeaBreeze Publising LLC
Author: Steve Snyder
Type: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0986076008
Pages: 360

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Nate Sullivan, of War History Online, perfectly sums up Steve Snyder's well-executed story of B-17 pilot, Howard Snyder and his crew:

“ A masterful work. Enjoyable for those interested in the Eighth Air Force and/or the B-17 Flying Fortress, but it is also broad enough to appeal to general history readers. Insightful, engrossing, and succeeds on every level. Bravo.”

Shot Down is not just a story, but a perfect memoir to the men that flew and cared for Susan Ruth, Howard Snyder's B-17, and to all those that fought, flew and died during the Second World War. Not only to the Americans, either. Snyder's story is equally inclusive of Americans and Brits and does not do one more justice than the other – making sure that this book appeals to readers on both sides of the pond. It is in no way patronising, and it's simply written nature allows for readers of all interests.

The amalgamation of story and historical facts is seamless, creating an informative and incredibly interesting read.

You find yourself waiting eagerly for more humorous, loving and tear-jerking letters from Howard to his wife, Ruth and laughing at how nothing has really changed from young lovers then, to young lovers now. Snyder retells the tale of how Ruth became pregnant with Baby Susan in 1941; “Ruth pleaded with Howard, 'Let's not use anything just this once.'”

Snyder's perception of the British is absolutely spot-on and brings a smile to your face. The mere mention of Britain instantly brings the story home – it is no longer about a pilot from a far-away land. It starts to have far more substance and meaning for those in Britain. Snyder is sure to mention the prudishness of us Brits and, of course, the English weather; “It has rained every day that we have been in England.”

The mention of rations further aids the readers understanding of the cruelties of war. This is no longer a Hollywood-esque, love-struck tale of two young people surviving the war, it's a harsh reminder of what war does. No longer do you think of these men as young larks, having fun being pilots. The thought of Michael Caton-Jones' Memphis Belle (1990) slips away, and you find yourself resisting the urge to skip chapters to find out what happens to Howard Snyder and his crew.

Steve Snyder has done an excellent job of documenting history in a fascinating and gripping way. This is a testimony to his parents, and all those who fought in the war. Definitely worth reading – just try and put it down.

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