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Subject: "Unexpected Bonus dep't"     Previous Topic | Next Topic
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Conferences eyrie.private-mail Topic #657
Reading Topic #657
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Oct-07-15, 10:53 PM (EDT)
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"Unexpected Bonus dep't"
   So, as a lot of you probably know, one of the things I tend to collect is aviation memoirs and biographies, particularly (but not limited to) concerning World War II. Unlike many of my various interests, I can actually trace this one to a specific book, or rather a pair of books, that I was loaned when I was a kid by a man who was, at the time, my father's boss.

(Well, I say loaned. Being a kid, I mostly forgot about returning them until years later, by which point I'd lost track of both of them in various moves. I ended up tracking down new copies of both to give to the guy, who had himself completely forgotten about the whole thing by then and was pleasantly surprised. I know, my little Abe Lincoln moment. Anyway. Onward.)

One of them was Heinz Knoke's I Flew for the Führer, of which I've written before on these boards. Knoke was frankly a somewhat unsavory character - as noted elsewhere, I had completely forgotten when I based one of OWaW's original witches on him that he was an unrepentant Nazi - but he wrote a very entertaining memoir until you get to the chapter about how sorry the Western Allies were going to be that they had taken down Hitler and not Stalin. (In fairness, he was probably not 100% completely wrong about that, but...)

The other one was Robert L. Scott's God Is My Co-Pilot. Scott was one of the war's Genuine Characters, one of the generation of slightly older American airmen who was already a veteran pilot by the time the war broke out. He was involved in supply runs over the Hump in the China-Burma-India theater of operations, and eventually wangled his way into the American Volunteer Group, flying fighters, despite his advanced age (relatively speaking - he was 34 in 1942). The AVG officially shut down, and in practice became the US Army Air Force's 23rd Fighter Group, in July of that year, with Scott as its commanding officer.

God Is My Co-Pilot was published in 1943, years before the end of the war, so it has a somewhat different tempo and flavor compared with pilot memoirs written well after the fact. Being one of the earliest of its kind, it was also something of a model for later efforts; one can detect many echoes of the way its narrative is structured in other books of the kind. It was almost immediately made into a movie, which I haven't seen, but which by most accounts is a pretty typical wartime flagwaver. There are elements of that in the book as well, I must confess.

At any rate, Scott survived the war - survived, in fact, for a good long time. He died in 2006 at the age of 97, writing a bunch more books along the way (including one, 1989's The Day I Owned the Sky, that I've got a first-edition hardcover of around here someplace). That original copy of God Is My Co-Pilot is long since misplaced, and was falling apart the last time I saw it, so the other day I decided I would see about tracking down a fresh copy online. I went for one of the later reprints, figuring it would be likely to be in better condition and last longer than the '70s-vintage mass-market paperback I originally had.

I've never heard of the publishers of this particular hardcover edition - based on the name and the typography, I would guess it is or was a small specialty-subject press - but that's not really the important thing.

What's important is what I found, entirely unexpectedly, on the title page.

I don't know who Ron Reed is or why he chose to part with the book, but hey - autographed copy. (If the listing I bought it from mentioned that, I didn't notice it.)

Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.

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