In 1944 as WWII rages across Europe, 15 Yr old Jack Raab dreams of being a hero. Leaving New York City, his family and his boyhood Jack lies his way into the US Air Corps. Shot down and taken prisoner, Jack is sent to a POW camp where his experiences are more terrifying than anything he's ever imagined.
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(178mm x 108mm x 20mm)
Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc
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US Kirkus Review »
In 1944 Jack Raab, 15 but big for his age, a Jewish boy from the Bronx, joins the Air Force with his older brother's ID and is soon a staff sergeant making regular bombing runs out of England. After 19 missions the pan-ethnic bomber crew, now close friends, congratulate themselves on their group survival (you're sent home after 35). But the next time out the plane is shot and Jack, the sole survivor, parachutes into captivity in Germany shortly before the end of the war. Back in the States, with Pacific duty still ahead, he tells his age to get out. (Why now? Simple. "I'm sixteen, sir. I haven't seen my family in over a year. And Hitler's dead.") Back in high school, he gives a Veterans Day speech about the stupidity of war. Although realistic, this is essentially a competent YA reduction of a genre that is best met at full strength. Mazer doesn't flinch from the bloody death of Jack's best friend, and after the plane is shot down the story takes a somewhat more individualized course. Still, the occasional simplistic conversations and too-explicit statements of themes are reminders that this is a second-hand literary experience despite Mazer's evident and convincing first-hand acquaintance with the material. Nevertheless, it's well enough done to leave you questioning YA conventions, not Mazer's skill in following them. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Harry Mazer
Harry Mazer's The Last Mission is drawn closely from his experiences as a seventeen-year-old in the Army Air Corps. Like Jack, he was a Jewish boy from the Bronx full of fantasies about heroism, and like Jack, he became a waist gunner and never fired his guns. He remembers, "I was scared every time we flew....On our 26th mission we flew over Pilzen, Czechoslovakia, to bomb the Skoda Munitions Works. We missed our target, turned over the target again, and were hit. I saw Mike, who was our radio operator, frozen in the door of the radio room. He never made it out of the plane. Only three of us parachuted....No one in the plane lived." ( ALAN Review, Fall 1980) Harry Mazer is the editor of Twelve Shots: Outstanding Short Stories About Guns, where twelve authors explore the extreme emotions that guns provoke in all of us. Walter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Richard Peck and other well-known authors create a riveting collection of short fiction that explores the emotion-driven world of guns."