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All Eyes Skyward
by Dan Spencer

Category: Fiction / Historical
232 pages; ISBN: 1411607201

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman


The following review was contributed by:

To read Norm's interview with author Dan Spencer, click HERE

Readers looking to find how it felt to be living in Berlin at the time of the Airlift of 1948-9 will not be disappointed with Dan Spencer’s, All Eyes Skyward.
For those of you who may not be aware, post Second World War Germany had been divided into three sectors comprising the Allied section controlled by the USA, England and France and the remaining part by the Soviet Union. Berlin, although it was situated in the eastern Soviet section, was also divided into four parts, wherein the Allied interests controlled West Berlin and the Soviets East Berlin.

In June 1948 there was an attempt by the Soviet Union to control all of Berlin. A blockade had been imposed on all surface traffic to and from the city. The result was a near catastrophic starvation of the population. This ultimately led to one of the greatest airlift operations in aviation history wherein food supplies and coal were dropped into Berlin by United States and its allies. The airlift lasted until September of 1949 when Stalin caved in, after realizing that his cruel plan was totally ineffective.
It is against this backdrop that Spencer narrates the story of an American flyer Lt. Tucker Briggs, who falls in love with a German woman, Greta Ludke. Apparently, Greta’s husband was a SS Officer and is now missing in action or dead.

This novel will probably whip up a mixture of feelings and emotional charge from its readers-always a sign of good drama. Tucker is portrayed as a very trustworthy, compassionate and naïve person believing in Greta’s sincerity, even as to her explanations pertaining to her lack of knowledge concerning the death camps. Readers, however, will question Tucker’s feelings. Were they influenced by his first encounter with Greta when she had saved him from a tight situation that could have ended in his incarceration or even death at the hands of the Soviets? To use the cliché, was his love blind?

On the other hand, Tucker’s co-pilots, particularly Roy Couglin, who lost one brother during the war and another came home without legs, is painted as someone with bitter and callous feelings towards the Germans. He fails to understand how Tucker could believe Greta and why he would even consider marrying her. After all, her husband was a SS officer from a rich German family who had contributed considerable sums of money to the German war effort.
It is his contention that she cannot be trusted and her only objective was to get a plane ticket for her daughter and herself into the USA. He questions her sincerity when he mentions to Tucker that she still wears her wedding ring, while other widows have sold theirs on the black market.

Spencer effectively uses curiosity and delay to create compelling suspense. The novel is very well researched and is not a haphazard collection of pieces randomly put together, but rather a sequence of carefully organized chapters each fulfilling the last and supporting the next. The interactions among all of the characters together with natural-sounding dialogue are realistically portrayed. All Eyes Skyward is a moving and memorable novel, and no doubt we have in Dan Spencer a powerful new voice in fiction.


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