Binzer was thrilled to be assigned to China, despite it being one of the most dangerous areas to fly, on an aerial route known as “The Hump,” a passageway running through the Himalayas where topography, weather, and the occupying Japanese forces all posed constant threats. From his memory of trying to land at Chungking in difficult terrain to losing a rudder when flying through wires strung up to deter Japanese planes, Binzer’s straight-talking storytelling transports the readers d into the cockpit of his “Able Queen.” Expect to cringe at the vulnerability of Binzer and his crew as they traverse along the Aluminum Trail (the route between China and India strewn with crashed planes) and be mesmerized by their final flight—ending in parachuting from the plane after running out of fuel—that catapulted Binzer into his most dangerous adventure.
This unpretentious memoir also surveys Binzer’s memories of growing up during the hard times before the war. His admiration and gratitude for the Chinese peasants who aided Americans in the fight is inspirational, and essays by historians Carl W. Weidenburner and Dr. David T. Fletcher add welcome perspective. This well-researched memoir of a quiet hero is a gem for fans of World War II history.
Takeaway: This memoir of a World War II pilot offers a portrait of extraordinary courage.
Great for fans of: James M. Scott’s Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor, John R. Bruning’s Race of Aces: WWII’s Elite Airmen and the Epic Battle to Become the Master of the Sky.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A