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SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth Hardcover – August 15, 2014
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Steve Snyder's masterful book, Shot Down, does justice to the adventures of his father, pilot Howard Snyder, and the crew of the B-17 plane Susan Ruth. Using first-hand accounts from diary entries, letters, and family stories, Snyder revives experiences that are accessible and relevant both to historians and readers with a casual interest in WWII history. As World War II fades into history, stories like the ones in Shot Down revive the past, give it new life, and offer a link between the heroes of yesterday and the men we now call "Grandpa." Steve Snyder's extensive research, careful storytelling, and humane treatment of his subjects make Shot Down a must-read for anyone with an interest in this gripping period of American history. - Foreword Reviews Throughout the book the author is careful to set the larger context of the war without losing readers to unnecessary acronyms or overly technical discussions. This is a great introduction to the history of the U.S. air war in Europe, humanized by the experience of a single bomber crew. Maps and illus. - Publishers Weekly The author does an impressive job letting the tale speak for itself, giving center stage to the words of the soldiers and eschewing unnecessary dramatic embellishment. Snyder's contribution is an excellent one that honors both the personal and global effects of war. A gripping story for readers in search of either drama or historical edification. - Kirkus Extensively researched, packed with photographs, and neatly interwoven with background remarks, this meticulously detailed description of the airmen's daily life offers a comprehensive, yet personalized portrait of a war in which "more airmen with the Eighth Air Force lost their lives than in the entire Marine Corps." The use of excerpts from letters and journals gives a compelling, up-close account of what it was like to fly with death every day. . As the devastation of WWII fades into history, this informative and insightful account of one bomber crew's experiences serves as a cogent reminder of what individuals suffered.. It's a thoroughly satisfying and worthwhile read. - Blue Ink "Shot Down" is an informed and informative reading for World War II history buffs and for personal reading lists. Centered around the 306th Bomb Group in Thurleigh, England, it is informative, insightful and captivating. - Midwest Book Review Steve Snyder's military history book, Shot Down, reads like a novel, yet it isn't. The names and faces are all real, but their stories are presented in such a compelling manner that this thorough and painstakingly researched effort reads smoothly and fluently as Snyder and his father's journals bring the past to life. I was fascinated as I read . Shot Down is a remarkable compilation of historical data that is presented in a well-written and thought-provoking narrative. It's most highly recommended. - Readers' Favorite Book Reviews Steve Snyder's Shot Down is extraordinary. It is littered with a wide range of visual aids. The book contains photographs, diagrams, maps, and even scans of Howard's diary and telegrams. Seeing photographs of the Belgian homes where crew members stayed, and of the acquaintances they made while downed, bring this story to life. The book itself is drawn from Howard's diary, correspondence, and other first-hand accounts. It is a rich documentary. Letters written by Howard to his wife, in particular, allow readers to "get inside" the mind of a B-17 pilot. Steve Snyder's narrative is straightforward and compelling. It is a relatively easy read, and the short chapters make this book highly accessible. This book will be particularly enjoyable for those interested in the Eight Air Force and/or the B-17 Flying Fortress, but it is also broad enough to appeal to general history readers. Shot Down is a masterful work. It is insightful, engrossing, and succeeds on every level. Bravo. - War History Online --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
A great introduction to the history of the U.S. air war in Europe, humanized by the experience of a single bomber crew. -- BookLife
Foreword Clarion Review 5 Star Rating
Snyder’s masterful book puts the reader inside the cockpit, shoulder to shoulder with the pilot and crew. Accessible and relevant both to historians and readers with a casual interest in WWII history, Shot Down a must-read for anyone with an interest in this gripping period of American history. – Claire Foster
BlueInk Starred Review
Highly recommended for historians and WWII aviation buffs, it’s a thoroughly satisfying and worthwhile read. Extensively researched, packed with photographs, and neatly interwoven with background remarks, this highly engaging book offers a comprehensive, yet personalized portrait of a war.
War History Online
A masterful work. Enjoyable for those interested in the Eight 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. – Nate Sullivan
World War II Today
A magnificent job. Readily accessible to anyone not familiar with the bomber war in Europe, but also much to interest those whose real passion is wartime aviation. -- Martin Cherrett
A wonderful read and compelling story of our B-17 aircrews that flew, fought, and died over Europe to save a continent from tyranny and oppression. Gives a great sense of the heroes that made up the “Greatest Generation.” — General Duncan J. McNabb, USAF, retired 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Snyder has reached a level of scholarship few amateur historians achieve. A story that all young Americans should read. — Vernon L. Williams, Ph.D., Director East Anglia Air War Archives
A great example of young men from the greatest generation fighting to defend the cause their country asked them to. — Chris M. Kuester, Lt Col, USAF Commander, 424th Air Base Squadron Chievres, Belgium
We organize an annual ceremony at a memorial in memory of the B17 Susan Ruth crew members honoring the memory of those who crashed in Belgium on February 8, 1944. The local population still remembers the heroes who crossed the ocean to come and help people who were totally unknown to them, to free them and to restore their honor and happiness. They gave their lives, and we will be eternally grateful to them for their sacrifice. We will always remember these men as heroes of our freedom. Thank you. We will never forget you. — Christel Delahaye, President Association du Devoir de Mémoire de Momignies ‒ Belgique
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Snyder and his crew went through training in the United States before being sent overseas. Once in Great Britain, they were attached to the 369th squadron of the 306th bomb group. Missions over Germany soon followed.
In February, 1944, the Susan Ruth was shot down by enemy fighters. This was the beginning of a seven month odyssey for Howard, who jumped from the burning plane along with eight others of the crew. Howard eventually joined the Belgian resistance to fight back against the Germans. With the help of numerous Belgian civilians, Howard managed to make it out alive.
"Shot Down" is a fine book. Not only does author Steve Snyder tell his father's story, he also tells the story of the build-up of the Eighth Air Force. The reader not only learns about the bombing missions, but other ares, including flying in combat, training, and the problems faced while trying to return to base. I've read several books about the Eighth Air Force, and "Shot Down" is a worthy addition to its history. Highly recommended.
Shot Down is worthy read, plane and simple (intentional pun). if you are a fan of WWII history, this should be a must-have for your library. if you enjoy air shows and look forward to seeing the B-17, this book is essential. the author has compiled a massive trove of historical material and personal memorabilia (Howard Snyder, the pilot of the Susan Ruth, is the author's father) to fully introduce you to his family and the families of the crew as a whole.
author does a good job of making you feel the damp cold of the air base setting, the miserable freezing conditions of flying at 20k feet in an un-pressurized fuselage, the logic of group formation flying, and the very real inherent dangers of being a flight crew -- not just being shot at by enemies.
do not expect this to be a clancy-esque read; it's not. it's more of a documentary feel, a la Ken Burns. yes, admittedly there is repetition, and if you are a fast reader, you'll notice it. but Snyder jams a lot of information at you and if you've never served in the military (i have), you should find the repeated explanations helpful in processing the story he tells.
the book delves into background and training very well. the mission where the plan goes down, to me, was edge-of-seat reading. then an even more compelling story of months embedded with the Belgian and French resistance, and the immense sacrifice of the civilians who risked their own lives hiding downed airmen. let it be said, not all heroes wear uniforms!
Most recent customer reviews
Historically significant, definitely worth reading.