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Reviewed by Tom Gauthier for Readers' Favorite
White Star in a Red Sky by Chris Berman is a human-interest story wrapped in history and delivered at an engrossing pace. Berman weaves a riveting tale as he relays the action of Hitler’s insane attacks on Russia with the tale of two pilots, both female, one Russian and the other American. The life story of the American pilot, Angela Moretti, intertwines her love of flying, her desire to serve as a warbird ferry pilot delivering combat aircraft to Russian crews, and her burning hatred for the Nazis fueled by the vicious SS murder of her American soldier brother. Circumstances at the USAAF field in Alaska, where transfers take place for the lend-lease aircraft to Russians, provide nineteen-year-old Angela with the opportunity to fly off to war with the Russian pilots. Helped by a female Russian pilot, Katya Leonova, at the controls of a Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter plane, she flies into the middle of a major combat offensive, intensive aerial combat, and all the death and destruction war brings.
A masterfully researched and cleverly devised plot makes Chris Berman’s White Star in a Red Sky a book you will read in one sitting. If nonstop action, deep human emotion, conflict, and resolution are what you seek, you are reading the right book. The historical military fiction elements were seamlessly woven into the poignant human-interest story of a young girl, the daughter of Sicilian immigrants to America, who is driven to heroic levels by first the murder of her brother by the Nazis, then by what she learns of the plight of the Russians amid war. As a writer, Cold War veteran airman, and shamelessly obsessed with military history myself, Berman had me. My reading of Berman’s work was rapid. The campaigns of the German armies are largely accurate but sometimes adjusted a little to the story, as are the counteroffensives of the Russian Red Army and air force. The aerial combat, flight maneuvers, and technical details are accurate and delivered in a riveting staccato matching the blazing guns and cannons of the P-39. The women at the core of the story fly into well-described combat. My recommendation is that you set aside enough time when you pick up this book as Chris Berman and Star in a Red Sky will hardly allow you a breath, much less a break for lunch.