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Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
Buried Pasts by George Stratford is a historical novel that shows how World War II continued to disrupt people’s lives long after it ended. Shortly after the war broke out, Mike Stafford, a Canadian, joined the RAF to defend Britain against the Nazi threat. With a diverse crew from all the English-speaking nations of the British Commonwealth, he took part in bombing raids on Germany. On his last mission, however, the plane he was piloting was hit and, to ensure his crew’s safety, he ordered them to parachute. One man was killed when his ’chute didn’t open. Now, it’s 1962 and Stafford, despite his initial misgivings, travels to England to attend a reunion of his squadron. It should be a happy occasion, but the violent, mentally disturbed son of the man who died holds Stafford personally responsible for his father’s death, based on a distorted view of the original bombing incident. He’s stalking Stafford -- and he’s itching to use his new rifle. Meanwhile, Stafford finds himself increasingly drawn to a German female guest at the hotel whose original home had been destroyed in the very bombing raid that Stafford had led.
Buried Pasts is extremely well written and moves along without getting too bogged down by the “blood and guts” aspect of war. George Stratford’s depiction of Alan, the disturbed young man, and of the conflicts within Alan’s mind is excellent. As an American, it is a refreshing change of pace to read about the war from the British standpoint, and to see how Brits, Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders all served together. The depiction of Siggi, the German woman, is also valuable because we don’t hear enough about how ordinary, non-Nazi Germans reacted to the war. Interestingly, Stratford’s father, George Henry Stratford, was a Canadian RAF pilot who was killed in combat. Buried Pasts is an excellent book, and I would highly recommend it.