Midnight Flight to Nuremberg
Marcus A. Nannini
Air World (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (12/2021)
Before you start thinking that this is “yet another WWII book,” think again. Yes, if I went on Jeopardy tomorrow, I would fail. Why? Because with my luck, the categories would be math, physics or both math and physics, because irony follows me around like an evil poodle. However, if an angel was on my shoulder the day of the competition and made WWII one of the categories (along with easy stuff like, authors, book titles, movies, and Disney, of course), I would walk away with a whole lot of money in my pocket because I’ve read more WWII books during my lifetime than anything else. (Thanks again, Mom!)
Of course, with this book, I was also looking at an autobiography which, oddly enough, is not among my favorite genres. I have a perfectly good excuse for this; they’re usually about wealthy men who suffer from ‘greed’ or people who want to share their journey to faith. After a while, this can get boring. But when it comes to this particular ‘real’ tale, I was riveted by the C-47 pilot and instructor, First Lieutenant Harry E. Watson, Jr, USAAF. And I mean, riveted! Not only does the author talk about this heroic man’s rich history of being a pilot during WWII, he also delves into Watson’s life in the U.S. Army, and even includes a more personal look into his home life and all the challenges, pride, and emotions that came from it all.
When Harry Watson, Jr. was a young man, he could see his future being that of a worker in a coal mine and wanted nothing to do with that career. Instead of following this path already etched in stone, Harry grasped his lifelong dream of being a pilot and enlisted in the U.S. military. Amassing many awards for his work, his amazing bravery, and his integrity and dedication, Harry Watson also made history when he took to the skies on a secret mission to pick up U.S. soldiers and prisoners of war and take them from Nuremberg back to base… without getting hurt. One of these prisoners was Franz Von Papen.
For those who may be unaware, Papen was high up in the German government and he believed Hitler could be controlled, so he persuaded the right people and eventually got Hitler appointed Chancellor while he served as Vice-Chancellor in 1933. Turned out Papen was wrong; he and his allies were tromped on by Hitler and the Nazis and Papen left the government after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. Although Papen was later indicted in the Nuremberg trials of war criminals, he was acquitted of all charges. (See? That Jeopardy category would so be mine…)
This author, Marcus Nannini, focuses on Watson, and translates his tale in perfect fashion, making the book a truly action-packed story that holds the reader’s attention. But this is not only for military history fans, because Watson’s friendships with fellow crewman, Lang, and other people who supported him during his years—from the Army to the Air Force to his hometown—are also told with passion and depth that makes you want to shake Watson’s hand, thank him for his service, and learn even more about his incredible background. In addition, the old photographs that include various Air Force planes, as well as sights of endless roads of death and destruction left by the Germans, touch your soul. And the loving letters Watson wrote to his first wife and son also brought extra emotion into the tale.
In the end, however, Harry Watson’s risk-taking stole the show. Not only Nuremberg, we’re talking about a man who did not back down in the face of any danger. From taking supplies to Army nurses in the field; to evacuating a hospital just moments before the evil SS arrived; to his horrific times during Operation Market Garden, where he lost one of his close friends to anti-aircraft fire while taking hits to his own plane – Watson was a true hero.
If you wish to read an exciting book filled with harrowing escapes and a great life that pays homage to one of America’s bravest, “Midnight Flight to Nuremberg” by Marcus A. Nannini is the book you want! “5 Stars.”