Being with Lt. Col. Arthur La Vove – – eye witnessing his amazing adventures . . .
“The Hump Drivers – An American Pilot’s Account of Flying Over the Himalayas During WW II”, by Arthur La Vove. Schiffer Publishing; 192 pages, $24.99.
Review By: Don DeNevi
Publisher’s Summary: Countless men served in World War II. In combat, on the seas, in administrative offices, and in the skies. “Hump Drivers” is a vivid and engrossing story in words and images of one man’s experience as a “Hump Driver”, a pilot who transported people, supplies, and ordnance over the Himalayan Mountains between Assam, India, and China. When the Japanese cut the Burma Road in April 1942, China’s overland supply route disappeared. The only way its armies could be supplied was at first by air. Some of the mountains were 20,000 feet high. Eventually, a new road link into India was built for the supplies to flow into China. Work on this new road began at Ledo in Assam in December 1942. It was to run south to join the old Burma Road.
With highly detailed drawings and a cogent, relatable, and compelling narrative, tales of war are presented and shared in such a way that the reader/viewer will be left with a deep appreciation and respect for the Hump pilots and their crews. Arthur La Vove presents an unforgettable collection of portraits which depict how profoundly war changes a man. With poor quality food, insanitary and uncomfortable facilities, harsh and dangerous weather, malfunctioning communications, it is easy to identify with the men who endured hardships in such a foreign part of the world. In short, we finally have a memorable memoir, an unusually eloquent and poignant account of a critical service delivering foods and supplies into China, our beleaguered ally surrounded by unassailable mountain heights and a cruel, deadly enemy.
Adding to Arthur La Vove’s harrowing, yet always objective, narration, are some 40 original sketches drawn “in – theater” opening each chapter. Somehow, without a single photograph, other than three of the author/illustrator himself, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Air Force, China-Burma-India theater of operations, the sketches intensify La Vove’s reality. War art, usually in oils carefully reproduced and presented on quality paper in book form, is rare enough. But in simple pencil drawings? Virtually nonexistent. La Vove’s sketches, often appearing as little more than outlines or rough, preliminary drafts, testify to his creative drive to essay in words and pencil lead on whatever paper was available the historical truth as it was unfolding before him, and d- – – the art critics.
Arthur La Vove, a true hero of the US Air Transport Command, died in Santa Monica in 1993. Us readers will be forever thankful that sons Timothy and Michael La Vove and daughter Susan La Vove Curley, are sharing with us their father’s gifted mind and his long shelved manuscript, a true treasure in America’s military literature.
Readability – – – 5 stars
Historical accuracy – – – 5 stars
Overall rating – – – 5 stars
Overall % rating – – – 5 stars