Boots from Heaven, Cross Roads Books, Notre Dame, Ind., 1994, $28.95
This very thoroughly researched 270-page book presents French and American personal perspectives of the events surrounding an American bomber pilot’s imprisonment in Germany’s Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II and his reunion with his French Resistance rescuers nearly 40 years after the war. The genesis of the work was a reunion attended by co-author Howard’s father, who got together with his French Resistance rescuers 40 years after World War II. The meeting was dominated by discussions of the events surrounding 2nd Lt. J.D. Coffman’s rescue by French civilians after he bailed out of his stricken Consolidated B-24, his subsequent capture after a Gestapo collaborator betrayed them, and his imprisonment. The realization that neither the French community nor the pilot was aware of all of the related events prior to the reunion, and the coincidence that led to re-establishment of contact between the aviator and the family that hid him from the Germans, spurred the writing of this book. Boots from Heaven is told from both the American and the French perspectives by pilot Coffman’s daughter and the granddaughter of the French Resistance family who hid him in their home until he was captured by the Gestapo.