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April 16, 2022

Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I love WWII fiction and have really gotten into reading biographical fiction so it makes sense that I start reading historical NONfiction. Last fall for Nonfiction November, I read my first WWII nonfiction book (Lightning Down - read my review) and really enjoyed it. So when I saw the audiobook Damn Lucky, I decided to give it a try. It is also about a pilot - John Luckadoo was a B-17 bomber pilot.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

book cover of WWII nonfiction audiobook Damn Lucky by Kevin Maurer
April 2022; Macmillan Audio; 9781250839510
audio (8h 20m), ebook, print; WWII nonfiction

John "Lucky" Luckadoo has participated in oral history projects and other projects that aim to record the stories and history of "the greatest generation" but his whole story had never been recorded. Journalist and war correspondent, Kevin Maurer uncovered part of Lucky's story in a WWII archive and went in search of the rest of it. Damn Lucky is part historical biography and part personal memoir as Maurer relays Lucky's time in the Army with a sprinkling of historical facts.

What really struck me with this book was how new air combat was during WWII. I knew the WWII era was the infancy of avionics but Lucky's story really drove it home. 

There were also details about flying during that time that I hadn't read before. Like, I never realized that the planes were not pressurized and the crew was at the mercy of the extremely cold temperatures of high altitude flying - frostbite was a common problem. If you are an author of WWII fiction, this would be a great book to provide you with real, personal details that would enrich your fiction.

A lot of the book was about various battles, which I got a little bored with, but I can see it appealing to others. I'm much more interested in the personal interactions and there are some interesting and very touching moments. 

The book was also a reminder that we are losing so many of the personal stories from this era. Luckadoo was 99 at the time of the recording. I always make it a point to read the author's note at the end of the historical fiction books I read and so many times the authors mention how they relied on letters and journal entries. Maurer was able to interview Luckado and pick his brain so to speak. Luckadoo mentions in the afterword that this is the first time that he recounted his whole WWII experience. He couldn't/didn't want to talk about it when he returned after the war. How many men and women have died without ever sharing everything they experienced and all we can know is from a few letters or diaries (if even that)?

While Damn Lucky does not read like a history textbook, it also doesn't read like a novel. It is probably more like something you might read in Slate or The Atlantic.

If you are looking to learn more about WWII air combat or hearing the personal stories of a man who served, then this is a good audiobook to pick up. The narrator Holter Graham does a wonderful job. John Luckadoo also narrates the afterword. I'm not sure if a transcript is offered in the print editions, but the audiobook includes a conversation between Maurer and Luckadoo.

Buy Damn Lucky at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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