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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