Cold War

A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
681 Pages
Reviewed on 05/31/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Gaius Konstantine for Readers' Favorite

"They might be delivering children’s shoes instead of bombs, but the mission could be deadly just the same." That's the thing with war; sometimes, it is not fought with bombs and bullets on a battlefield but with clothes, food, and within our souls. Bridge To Tomorrow: Cold War by Helena P. Schrader is an epic tale of a different kind of war. It tells the story of a conflict that raged after one totalitarian regime had been defeated, only to see another take its place. With two and a half million devastated civilians as pawns, the Soviets attempted to snatch a quick victory from former allies by blockading Berlin. Their machinations were met with an unprecedented airlift to supply a city on the edge of starvation. Cold War is the story of the men and women who made this effort a reality and, in the process, gave hope to many shattered allies and former foes alike. Despite being a different type of war, one thing remained the same: for the heroes who saved a city, the enemy was not only the Soviets but also petty superiors without a conscience.

I was almost expecting Cold War by Helena P. Schrader to be a dry, historical read, but instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find an epic novel that delves into the human experience and belongs in the same conversation with classics like Casablanca and Das Boot. The plot is detailed, rich, and complex, exploring the characters' struggles during a historical crisis. Themes range from human frailty and wretchedness to resilience and selfless heroism. The author's skill in weaving these elements together exceeded my expectations as she brought to life an era long gone. The well-developed cast of characters added depth to the story, and I was thrilled as some of them rebuilt their lives. Cold War is the second in the series but works well as a stand-alone title. It is a captivating, well-paced tale perfect for fans of historical fiction and an ideal example of what good people can achieve despite the odds.

K.C. Finn

Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift is a work of fiction penned by author Helena P. Schrader in the historical fiction, wartime stories, and interpersonal drama genres. Forming the second book in the Bridge to Tomorrow Series, this fascinating novel continues the story from Cold Peace. Set during the Berlin Airlift, the plot follows USAF Captain J.B. Baronowsky and RAF Flight Lieutenant Kit Moran, who now deliver essential supplies to besieged Berlin instead of bombs. Two women pilots fly an air ambulance rescuing malnourished children. The story, based on historical events, highlights how former enemies became allies against Russian aggression, facing the harsh winter that nearly led to the airlift's failure.

Author Helena P. Schrader has crafted a deeply moving and educational novel that really highlights the varied lives and hardships of people in the grip of war. The book paints a vivid picture of Berlin's dire situation, with a big-picture view that is detailed and well-researched, as well as a close-up perspective of the central cast and their individual trials. The transformation of Baronowsky and Moran from bombers to saviors was particularly compelling. Schrader's portrayal of the women pilots flying air ambulances was inspiring, highlighting their bravery and compassion with brilliant speech and thought presentation to characterize them all instantly. The historical accuracy and emotional depth work in a fantastic balance with the interesting and harrowing twists of the plot to provide a powerful insight into every detail of this lesser-known element of military and wartime civilian history. Schrader's detailed writing and well-developed characters made this historical event come to life, offering a profound reminder of the impact of humanitarian efforts during times of conflict. Overall, I would certainly recommend Cold War and the series in general to fans of brilliantly penned and well-researched historical fiction everywhere.

Grant Leishman

Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift by Helena P. Schrader is the second book in the Bridge to Tomorrow series. With Berlin divided into sectors, the Soviet Union was determined to remove the Allied Powers from Berlin, and to do so, they effectively put the city under siege. Based on the famous Berlin airlift that sought to feed, clothe, and provide coal for more than two million civilians trapped in Berlin by the Soviet blockade, the Allied powers did whatever they could to ensure the needs of their former enemy were met. Bringing many of the characters from the first book together, this time they will not be dropping bombs but instead will be supplying life-preserving food, medicine, power, and hope to a city suffering horribly. Wing Commander Robin Priestman is in charge of the British Air Force Base at Gatow, crucial to the success of the planned airlift, but the runway at Gatow is not capable of handling the big cargo planes needed to supply the thousands of tons of supplies required to be ferried in every day. Somehow, without the available equipment, Robin and his team must improvise and make it work. Robin’s wife Emily is involved in an Air Ambulance service ferrying very ill patients, along with desperate children, out of a beleaguered Berlin to safety and better medical facilities. With winter and bad weather coming, the pressure is on to make the airlift succeed despite the immense odds stacked against them.

Cold War is a wonderful sequel to Cold Peace. I was fortunate enough to read Cold Peace and Helena P. Schrader has brought back many of the characters that I initially fell in love with. If you haven’t read the first installment, it is not critical as the author does a tremendous job of filling in the important details from Cold Peace at the beginning of this book, as well as dropping small gems of information regarding character background. However, Cold Peace is such a wonderful story that I would recommend it. What I particularly appreciate about this author is the way she seamlessly blends known historical events and people with fictional characters so that only when you read the notes at the end do you understand who was real and who was a literary creation. I enjoyed the relationships that developed and matured throughout Cold War and was especially moved by the love stories between David and Charlotte, as well as Graham and Jasha. The author’s descriptive writing allows us to feel the tension and fear of landing on a foggy runway with only instruments and a friendly voice to guide them. I loved that women play such a crucial role in the development and success of the ambulance service and indeed the airlift itself. At a time when women were supposed to be heading back to the kitchen, these brave and fiercely independent females stood out for more than their femininity. This is a wonderful story and I look forward to the continuation of this saga, which I hope is in the pipeline. I highly recommend this book.