She Flew Bombers: From the Factories to the Bases During World War II
Contributor: David Stubblebine
Review Date: 6 Jan 2017
I met the author of this book, Jeane Slone, at the 2016 Wings Over Wine Country Air Show in Santa Rosa, California where she had a book-signing table. After a very pleasant but brief chat, I bought the book because I have long been interested in the topic of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots and I believe it is unfortunate that the WASP story is not being told more widely.
She Flew Bombers is a novelized telling of one young woman's experience on the World War II home-front as she followed her pre-war love for flying by joining the Women's Airforce Service Pilots. The story is as much about the main character's coming of age in the difficult circumstance of wartime as it is about the WASP program. In the novelized format, many of the book's characters, including the main character of Violet Willey, are amalgams of the real WASPs and many of the book's events reflect actual WASP stories. I picked up this book largely to get a closer look at the development of the WASP program but this turned out to be a smaller part of the plot line than I was expecting. I was happy to read that one of the characters who was not fictionalized was the very real Jacqueline Cochran; she was a very strong presence in her day, a day when women were rarely allowed to maintain a strong presence, and I was pleased to read Ms. Slone presenting the noted aviatrix in just that way.
The book was a very pleasant read in terms of its style and flow but I figured out early on that I was probably not part of this book's target audience. I was a little distracted by the fact that the novelization process rearranged some of the World War II timeline and by some other misstated facts. While these things were apparent to me, they may be less distracting for another reader.
I would recommend this book to a reader who wants a light, introductory, first-person account of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots or a description of what life was like for a young woman on the home-front in World War II. The more serious World War II history enthusiast, however, might find a different WASP narrative more satisfying.
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945