During the early afternoon hours of April 24, 1944, Second Lieutenant James J. Goebel, Jr. finds himself floating alone toward the war-torn Belgian landscape below. What was his safe passage home, his B-24 Liberator, is now engulfed in flames and hurls to the ground only to report back with a distant thud upon the earth. Just moments earlier, the B-24 and its crew of ten were en route back to England after their inaugural bombing mission and the successful pounding of the Nazi war machine. At the hand of sheer randomness and bad luck, an enemy fighter selected their heavy bomber for retribution from the 230 B-24s dispatched earlier that morning.
Forced to jump for their lives, Goebel and his fellow crew members were now scattered along the Belgium countryside. Soon to be a downed airmen in a hostile enemy occupied territory, the odds of survival are against him. With two men running toward his drifting canopy, Goebel fears he may never see home again.
The Lucky Seven is a gripping true story of escape, evasion and résistance.
Holden, Goebel’s son-in-law, tells the story with some fictional liberties, but with a firm bedrock of research. Goebel-and those on the run with him-often failed to be cautious, as they took contemporaneous notes and, even, photos with those who were hiding them. Those photos, together with other family photos from Goebel and the people who aided him, help add depth and humanity to the story. Holden also provides extensive resources for others to follow his research, including an extensive reference list, endnotes and supplemental information in a series of appendices. Unfortunately, he doesn’t include a map, which would help the reader track Goebel’s escape.
Holden tells this story with tension and pathos. The reader feels the anxiety and elation of the downed airmen as they hide and journey across Europe, even as plans move forward for D-Day. Although Goebel never flew more than one combat mission, having been shot down on his first bombing raid, his bravery still stands as an inspiration to his family and, thanks to Holden’s work, to all the readers of this book. Readers interested in escape and evasion in the great wars, or simply looking for a compelling adventure, will appreciate this accomplished telling.
Takeaway: Riveting true-life story of escape and survival behind Nazi lines in World War II.
Comparable Titles: Juliann K. Pendolino’s The Story in My Father’s Footlockers, Neal Bascomb’s The Escape Artists
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A