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Barefoot to Wings

Albert V. Malone (Author)

ISBN: 0-7414-3784-8 ©2007
Price: $18.95
Book Size: 5.5'' x 8.5'' , 370 pages
Category/Subject: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Military

A legacy to his family. A spirited account of life as it used to be and almost unfathomable to the uninitiated. A candid view of World War II bombing missions over Europe.

BAREFOOT TO WINGS is the story of Albert V. Malone from birth through his growing up during the Great Depression era, the droughts of 1934 & 1936, service in the Army Air Forces and completion of studies to become a chemical engineer. The hardships and challenges of living without electrical power and water-on-tap on the rural Ozark Plateau is detailed and peppered with the homilies, humor, colloquialisms, and folk tales of his family and Ozark neighbors. The fears and travail of flying 30 combat missions over Europe as a navigator of B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II are described graphically.

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Customer Reviews

  Review by Kelsey McMillan , 07/31/2007
Reviewer: Todd Malone
8th Air Force fans will love this book., June 4, 2007 By Kelsey McMillan (Houston TX United States) - See all my reviews There are two parts to the book. The first part is the author's youth, and the second part is about his WWII service as an 8th Air Force navigator. I often skip the "early years" in books like this and jump to the war years, but the photos and chapter headings of part one were so intriguing I started at the beginning. It pulled me in from page one and I came to feel like I was watching a movie about a time that the Greatest Generation reflects upon with fond nostalgia. A time when life was about getting by, rather than how many luxuries one could afford. A more innocent and less complicated time when kids didn't need Prozac, because they were too busy working or doing chores to get depressed. Malone's stories of working on his family's farm and in the family's general store/post office in the Ozarks are fascinating and humorous. The store had everything and Malone's job descriptions were many. One was testing the butterfat content for a number of farmers' wives who unofficially competed for bragging rights for producing the heaviest cream in town. These pages of Malone's early years are a treat to read. For those who are familiar with the popular book series, I would go so far as to characterize part one as "Chicken Soup for the Greatest Generation's Soul". In part two Malone details his military training and combat duty with honesty and realism. His recounting of 30 missions with the 389th Bomb Group (H) between August 1, 1944 and February 5, 1945 are entrancing, not only for their historical value, but also because they are chock-full of the real human emotion of men at war. His accounts of daily life on the airbase at Hethel, and while on leave in London are icing on the cake. His descriptions give you the sense that you are there experiencing the life of an 8th Air Force navigator. Valor, courage and success seem all in a day's work in the author's humble and straightforward style. But he doesn't whitewash the gut-wrenching horror of war or pull any punches about failures, screw-ups, or ignoble behavior. Barefoot to Wings is thoroughly enjoyable, and has everything you could want in a WWII autobiography: what it was like from the most intense moments to the mundane routines; historical accuracy; warmth and candor from the heart; unvarnished ugly truths, fear and anguish; and plenty of humor and comradeship. I highly recommend this book to 8th Air Force fans and anyone who wonders what the air war was like for combat men. For anyone who grew up in the Great Depression it's a wonderful nostalgic trip.

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