By Jennifer Niven. 368 pp. Plume, 2012. $15.
In 2009’s bestselling novel and Emmy- winning film, Velva Jean learned to drive. In her next adventure, she learned to fly and, after Pearl Harbor, joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Now it’s 1944, and she’s ferrying a B-17 across the Atlantic. Next up, Velva Jean wrangles her way into copiloting a planeload of special agents to Normandy with hopes of finding her brother, MIA. When her plane is shot down, she learns to survive and fight in the field, becoming Clementine Roux. Thus she enters the labyrinthine world of the French Resistance, where she falls for Emile, a handsome spy. Then the Gestapo arrests her, and our irrepressible heroine discovers the depths of human loyalty and cruelty.
Promoting the War Effort: Robert Horton and Federal Propaganda 1938–1946
By Mordecai Lee. 304 pp. Louisiana, 2012. $39.95.
For the year before Pearl Harbor, Robert Horton headed the federal Division of Information, hammering out the template for much subsequent U.S. wartime propaganda. He hitched his morale-boosting, production-building messages to movies, posters, radio, even the barely born thing called television. Of course it wasn’t all upbeat. The classic “He’s Watching You” poster dramatically frames a German soldier’s penetrating eyes beneath his distinctive helmet, resembling Darth Vader.
How did Horton walk the line between information and propaganda in a free society? Unfortunately, author Mordecai Lee’s bureaucratic prose flattens the impact of his suggestive research.
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.