Being there    .     .     .    to quietly watch you ponder, purchase, wrap colorfully and elaborately  the three wonderful gifts, then carefully hide them under the living room Christmas tree until Xmas morning to hand to yourself . . .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Three of this Season’s finest narrative WW II volumes have been reviewed and are highly recommended by book reviewer Don DeNevi, who insists, “Each is an absolute vital, must-own, link to round out one’s fledgling, or well-stocked, home library.

“HOLLYWOOD VICTORY – – The Movies, Stars, and Stories of World War II”, by Christian Blauvelt, with a Foreword by Dr. Robert M. Citino of the World War II Museum. Running Press, Philadelphia; 228 pages; $30.

Now, reader, why would you who so unselfishly ensures all others receive as many gifts as possible Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning, deny yourself pure, utter, joyfulness and gaiety while reading rivetingly, and perusing countless sharply focused photographs, many in full-paged color, of old friends in motion pictures unseen for three-quarters of a century? Life is much too short to be a Scrooge to oneself.

With cogent elegance, author and Turner Classic Movies’ host Christian Blauvelt, in addition, an award-winning entertainment journalist who serves as the managing editor of Indie Wire, writes, “This book, ‘Hollywood Victory’, is an absorbing, difficult read to put down. It’s a tale of how the American film industry enlisted in the Allied effort during the Second World War – a story that started with staunch isolationism as studios sought to maintain the European market and eventually erupted into impassioned support in countless ways.”

Indeed, even before Pearl Harbor cinema output included war films depicting battles while reminding moviegoers what they were, or would be, fighting for. Superbly, Blauvelt deftly reintroduces us to the contributions of old friends, Carole Lombard, Bob Hope, Marlene Dietrich, among hundreds of others who joined the USO (United Service Organizations) and couldn’t stop performing, risking their own health and safety to entertain thousands, whole divisions at a time, near battlefronts throughout North Africa, Italy, France, England, and the liberated Pacific Ocean islands. Other stars included Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Betty Davis, John Garfield, and a cast of thousands. The sizeable photographs are rare, some hitherto unpublished. No question author Christian Blauvelt and TCM have provided us with an engrossing masterpiece of important wartime literature, perhaps the only one of its kind ever e put in print.

“NO WAY OUT – – – The Untold Story Of the B -24 ‘Lady Be Good’ and Her Crews”, by Steven R. Whitby. Schiffer Publishing: 258 pp; $34.99.

Author Whitby offers us a brilliant, masterly, and stirring account of the sad, heartbreaking story of a B-24 Liberator lost on her first and only combat mission. Essentially, on April 4, 1943, “Lady Be Good”, as was painted on her nose in bold lettering, flew out of her base on the North African coast of Libya to bomb the main Italian city of lower Italy, Naples. She never returned to base. No one could figure out what happened to her. She simply vanished, Then in the Spring of 1959, “Lady Be Good” was discovered by an oil exploration team from BP Petroleum more than 500 miles deep in the Libyan Desert from the Mediterranean coast. Surprisingly, the bomber was nearly as intact as the day she was forced to land 16 years before. At first there was no trace of her crew. Then, mummified corpses in flight suits were discovered nearby. At the time, the story of the bomber’s disappearance was one of the top mysteries of WWII.

Thanks to Steven Whitby, a photographer for the Phos-Chek Corporation, a manufacturer of retardant dropped or spread on wildfires by aircraft and firefighting equipment, we have an intelligent discussion and debate over what aviation mistakes, or aircraft failures, occurred. Whitby includes details of the intensive 1943 search for the crew, as well as, years later, the subsequent mission to find the two U.S. Army personal lost during the first search. Mesmerizing are the first unpublished photos taken of the downed aircraft and crash scene upon her discovery more than 60 years before. Sad, nay, heart-breaking, are the skeletal remains of many of crew. Chapter 12, “Mysteries and the So-Called Curse Of the Lady Be Good”, plus pre-flight photos of the men joking and horsing around before climbing aboard; maps of the bombing run and return; and the locations of where the aircraft may have missed the route home, are all presented with crystal-clear clarity. Filled with information never before published, “No Way Out – The Untold Story of the B-24 ‘Lady Be Good’ and Her Crews” deserves a prominent display on any buff’s library shelf.

“THE POLISH AIR FORCE AT WAR – – The Official History, 1939-1943” by Jerzy B. Cynk. Schiffer Publishing: 327 pp;; $59.95.

Several months ago, this reviewer introduced in his column, “Volume 2. The Official History, 1943-1945, The Polish Air Force At War”, by the same author, Jerzy B. Cynk. So many favorable accounts were received about,“At long last, a recognition of the contribution of the Polish Air Force to the Allied Victory, while epitomizing its entire war record”, Schiffer ordered the publication of Volume 1. Superior to Volume 2 as a powerful historical record, Volume 1 includes the origins of Polish aviation; the air war against the Luftwaffe during the initial Blitzkrieg; the air battles over France and the formation of the Polish squadrons; the establishment and development of the PAF squadrons in Britain; PAF units over Dieppe and North Africa; expansion of the PAF and operations in 1941 – 1043; and PAF bomber squadrons and bomber operations, 1940 – 1943.

Author Cynk has provided aviation readers of World War II a priceless, authoritative two volume set documenting a subject long shunned and ignored. If a concluding statement is necessary to praise this extraordinary contribution to the war literature of Poland directly, and the Allies, indirectly, it is this: with the Polish Air Force on our side, flying and battling side by side with our aviators, and those of the British and French, there was no doubt who would win the war.

Hopefully, the sound of sleigh bells can be heard, whether you live in the snow or not. It’s still Santa, and you, for the moment are the roly-poly gentleman carrying the heavy sack loaded with books, three with your name addressed on them, gifts you’re giving yourself.