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Darwin's War: Science, Politics, Warfare, Faith and Sacrifice; The 416th Bomb Group's Sacrifices to Defeat Eugenics Paperback – September 17, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Dr. Larry Smith has written a compelling testament to human faith in his WWII historical novel Darwin's War. He writes about the airmen of the US Army Air Force's 416th Bombardment Group, his father Jack Smith among them. This book is a celebration of those brave aviators who daily faced life-and-death encounters. They stayed motivated and focused by believing in themselves, each other, and a higher power.

So true-to-life is Smith's narrative, the reader will feel transported back in time to that fiery shooting gallery that was the European Theater of Operations. Smith's words paint gripping pictures of battle-ready aviators, armed and airborne. Inside the cramped cockpit of their aluminum and Plexiglas A-20 Havoc bombers, the pilots manipulate a bank of controls. Behind him, in the turret, perches the turret gunner at the ready. Lying prone beneath the turret gunner inside the bottom of the plane is the belly gunner armed with a machine gun and camera. The Navigator Bombardier guides the formation to the target from his isolated Plexiglas compartment in the front of aircraft

Enriching the frontline bombs-away context, Smith interweaves provocative details about Adolph Hitler's death dance with eugenicists. Together, they justified--scientifically, philosophically, and patriotically--the führer's Final Solution. Hitler and the eugenicists would rid the fatherland of those unfit to breathe Deutschland's air. Ultimately, their plan expanded to include all of Europe.

The Nazis were on a mission. By war's end, they had systematically killed nine to eleven million people, including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other social and political "undesirables."

Darwin's War shifts into cautionary tale mode with the author's insightful observations about eugenics. Smith cautions us not to underestimate those who preach about the "unfit"; left unchecked, eugenicists could gain fearsome support and momentum. Based on his meticulous research, Smith explains the origins of the eugenics movement, its influence on public policy, and what it has morphed into.

Darwin's War will resonate with military veterans, their loved ones, and people who simply enjoy a masterfully told story about actual Americans in wartime. The ninety accompanying photographs will enhance the reader's frontline experience.
Editor, Gail Chadwick, September 2008

About the Author

As the son of an Air Force officer and World War II veteran, author Dr. Larry N. Smith has heard the stories of the 416th for much of his life. By attending reunions of the 416th, Smith has met the many airmen who, along with his father, endured the conflict. Now he’s transformed their first-person accounts into a document that reflects his training and experience as a physician. Smith earned his M.D. from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in 1985. A member of several professional medical societies including the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Smith practiced otolaryngology for nearly twenty years. He has written numerous journal articles as well as editorials on the economics of medicine for publications such as Barron’s. He is currently drafting a history of healthcare and health insurance. Smith resides in Gainesville, FL, with his wife and children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 556 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (September 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419689053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419689055
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Wrenn on July 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was delighted to hear from my old friend, Larry Smith, after many years without contact and was more excited to hear that he had penned a book. Actually a very good book. He takes you into the cockpit of the A-20 Havoc with a level of technical detail that brings the experience to life. The format is unique in my experience with narrative chapters that bring the excitement, energy and terror of combat to life alternating with chapters that reveal the history leading up to WWII and the economic, political and social factors that produced both the "greatest generation" and the greatest horror in the holocaust. It is a great book for folks who want both entertainment and education and it delivers both in spades.
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Format: Paperback
This presentation by Dr. Smith, the son of a late pilot of the 416th, puts you right in the middle of total activities of the Group and you ride with pilots on many of their precarious missions. The book excels, in the well composed and detailed hundreds of references including anecdotes of both ground and flying personnel of the Bomb Group. Eugenecis are adequately explored and documented relating to the whys and wherefores of this subject. It is an easy read, holding your attention from page to page with multitudes of photos offered by 416th Group members. The personal visits are superbly described by the author who went to the Group's air bases in England and France, plus visits with English and French folks who resurrected parts of some downed aircraft which participated in the air assaults to enemy territory. The Book is a rare necessity for both the military and non-military historians.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the previous comments on this book, and would like to add something further. The book is easy to read, and intelligently and articulately traces a story about the war's development from the angle of eugenics. So it provides some intellectual background for the tale that it tells. Some of the best writing, though, is how the author details the stories of very young men who were thrown into air battles and had to behave like heroes in order to survive. You really feel like you're in the air battles, and you can see these men forced to bail out of the planes, forced to hold steady while explosives are blasting all around their planes, and forced to die in the service of their country. This book really brings a human element to discussions of World War 2.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My copy of Dr. Larry's book has passed through several hands now and without exception all found the book a great and compelling read. One friend who was worried he'd have the book "to long" quickly returned it with the explanation, "I couldn't put it down". Dr. Larry's individual profiles remind us that real people fight wars and suffer its consequenses. The passages on the bomb runs were gripping and real. This is from men who were there and experienced it. Lastly, Dr. Larry reminds us that bad politics, bad science and religious and cultural differences, all at the root of "Darwins War" are with us today. A sobering reminder; one we must not forget.
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Format: Paperback
This extremely well written book, documenting the missions of the 416th Bomb Group in WWII captured my attention from the first page. Dr. Smith has done a superb job of interweaving facts and anecdotes about the 416th missions, its fine men and the part the 416th played in the war. You feel like you are flying with the men on thier harrowing missions. Dr. Smith also writes about eugenics and its role leading up to WWII. This was an easy read and, as a pilot who has flown in combat, a very accurate account of flying combat missions under very difficult conditions. A must read for pilots and WWII buffs.
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