An American fighter pilot doomed to die in Buchenwald but determined to survive.
On August 13, 1944, Joe Moser set off on his forty-fourth combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. Tom Clavin's Lightning Down tells this largely untold and riveting true story.
Moser was just twenty-two years old, a farm boy from Washington State who fell in love with flying. During the War he realized his dream of piloting a P-38 Lightning, one of the most effective weapons the Army Air Corps had against the powerful German Luftwaffe. But on that hot August morning he had to bail out of his damaged, burning plane. Captured immediately, Moser’s journey into hell began.
Moser and his courageous comrades from England, Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere endured the most horrific conditions during their imprisonment... until the day the orders were issued by Hitler himself to execute them. Only a most desperate plan would save them.
The page-turning momentum of Lightning Down is like that of a thriller, but the stories of imprisoned and brutalized airmen are true and told in unforgettable detail, led by the distinctly American voice of Joe Moser, who prays every day to be reunited with his family.
Lightning Down is a can’t-put-it-down inspiring saga of brave men confronting great evil and great odds against survival.
Bestseller Clavin (coauthor, Blood and Treasure) delivers a sluggish account of an American fighter pilot's imprisonment at the Buchenwald concentration camp during WWII. Born in Ferndale, Wash., in 1921, Joe Moser enlisted in the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor, earned a Distinguished Flying Cross at age 22, and made it through D-Day unscathed. Soon thereafter, however, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to bail out over occupied France. Expecting to be taken to a POW camp where he would be protected by the Geneva convention, Moser, along with 167 other Allied pilots, was instead designated a "terrorist" and sent to Buchenwald, where the Nazis held foreign spies, Resistance fighters, and other foreign and domestic enemies. Clavin profiles the other pilots and paints the horrors of life in the concentration camp in harrowing detail, describing rats feeding on piles of corpses and guards beating prisoners to death with rocks. Eventually, the prisoners were moved to a series of POW camps and were liberated by American forces in April 1945. Though the details Clavin unearths about how close the airmen came to being executed are grimly fascinating, frequent asides slow the pace down, and Moser remains a somewhat distant figure throughout. This WWII survival story is best suited to completists.
Must Read Book
If you ever wanted to know what it was like for those brave airmen who became captives, this is the book for you. One doesn’t “enjoy” a book like this, one guts their way through it to gain an understanding of the events and heroism. I loved this book…get it.
Unbelievable what these guys endured serving this country god bless all veterans 🇺🇸🇺🇸great book couldn’t put it down