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My War in Italy: On the Ground and in Flight with the 15th Air Force, by Keith W. Mason

Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 2016. Pp. x, 288. Illus.. $32.95. ISBN: 0826220592.

One Airman’s War

In this well written account, Mason tells us of a childhood fascination with aviation that took him from depression era Iowa to a commission in the Air Corps just six weeks before Pearl Harbor. Trained to fly B-24s, Mason spent nearly two years flying missions from bases in Italy against targets in Germany and all across the Balkans, including Ploesti, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross in the process.

This is a deeply personal look at Mason’s military experiences. Mason doesn’t waste much time talking about the “Big Picture” or the “Great Issues.” Instead he gives us a good look at such things as his relationships with his family, his fellow flyers, and the people of Italy. We get accounts of life in tent cities, a rather intimate look at the routine workings of a bomber squadron, and glimpses of the occasional USO show or unit party. Of course we also get a look at his missions, during which life and death were separated only by chance, and fear as well as relief were commonplace, and in sharp contrast to the often mind dulling routine of duty between missions. Mason also speaks of how his military experiences affected his maturation as a person.

Despite the need of a map or two, and an index, this is an interesting and enjoyable read, offering insights into men at war, the inner life of a bomber squadron, and more.

Note: My War in Italy is also available as an e-bok, $32.95, ISBN 978-0-8262-7346-8.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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