author: William Peter Grasso
published: 19 March 2011
genre(s): alternate reality, historical, military, romance
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A young but veteran recon pilot in WW2 finds the fate of the greatest invasion in history—and the life of the nurse he loves—resting perilously on his shoulders.
East Wind Returns is a story of WW2 set in July-November 1945 which explores a very different road to that conflict’s historic conclusion. The American war leaders grapple with a crippling setback: their secret atomic bomb does not work. The invasion of Japan seems the only option to bring the war to a close. When those leaders suppress intelligence of a Japanese atomic weapon poised against the invasion forces, it falls to photo reconnaissance pilot John Worth to find the Japanese device. Political intrigue is mixed with passionate romance and exciting aerial action—the terror of enemy fighters, anti-aircraft fire, mechanical malfunctions, deadly weather, and the Kamikaze. When shot down by friendly fire over southern Japan during the American invasion, Worth leads the desperate mission that seeks to deactivate the device.
Turning back the clock to 1942, follow John Worth’s exploits as an eager rookie pilot in Grasso’s Operation Long Jump.
Being an Army vet, I absolutely love military fiction of all kinds. East River Returns is a unique take on the genre in that it is an interesting blend of actual history and a “what if” path that history could have taken. The story centers around John Worth, a photo recon pilot in WWII, a part of the aviation of the time that has always been largely ignored in the genre. Worth fell into the photo recon arena during flight school when his instructors decided he wasn’t “aggressive” enough to be a fighter pilot. Instead, Worth has flown more missions in the same areas than the average fighter in his plain f-stop, always without any kind of armament.
While there was a lot of technical detail when describing missions or equipment, I never felt that it was overwhelming. Instead it enabled the reader to really feel as if they were present in the story with the characters. The characters, both fictional and actual, were blended seamlessly, making it easy to forget that this was, in fact, a fictional novel. I loved Worth’s character because he had a sense of honor and nobility about him, the epitiome of a hero of the time. Not only was he dedicated to his job and his mission, he was humble. The romance between himself and Margie, although secondary to the thrust of the story, kept the human side of the story alive and kept those technical details from becoming overwhelming.
I also liked that the story often switched between the American side of the story and the Japansese. Most books I have read in the genre generally tell the story from one side or the other, so this was an interesting mix. There were also a lot of sub-plots throughout the story, mimi stories that really added to the realistic feel of the novel. They may not have directly related to the main plot, but they showed sides to military life at the time and really filled out the story. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes the military fiction genre!