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Reviewed by Steven Robson for Readers' Favorite
Where Eagles Never Flew by Helena P. Schrader is a tremendously moving tale of human conflict, be it struggles within individuals coming to terms with their mortality or sweeping battles across nations driven by territorial prerequisites. Told chronologically from the battle for France through to the Battle of Britain, this World War 2 tale of aerial warfare goes further than most, giving us a unique insight into both sides of this critical conflict. By switching the focus between France and England, the book allows us to bear witness to the individuals caught up in this maelstrom, who are trying to live seemingly split lives; normal day to day routines that may lead them into unexpected relationships, contrasted with the utter turmoil of flying operations that may end in death. It becomes shockingly apparent that the young men and women on both sides are, essentially, very similar; what delineates them comes down to no more than the noughts and crosses on their wings. The tremendous gift of this book is that it grafts a human face onto the slashing planes and bullets, that paint the skies of Europe and Britain with an abstract expression of sheer terror, and blacken the hearts of the innocent.
Helena P. Schrader’s Where Eagles Never Flew is both inspirational and terrifying in its reality and should be required reading for anyone under the illusion that air warfare is in any way glorious. The people depicted are disturbingly authentic, and how their lives become entwined is beautifully crafted by Ms. Schrader; the linkage between Ernst and Robin could have come across as forced if it wasn’t written so subtly. Another gem carried in this story relates to the information it imparts; things like J. R. R. Tolkien’s son being a pilot in the war, or even quite simple facts like how gun ports were covered by canvas before each sortie to prevent condensation. This book is also quite accurate to the events as they played out over this period, with the only license taken being some fictitious squadrons and the personnel within these. I found Where Eagles Never Flew to be a compelling read and was genuinely moved by the injuries, death, and destruction which pervaded the lives of so many very special people trapped in the horror of living in the wrong time in history. A fantastic book!