BookBrowse Reviews The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck

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The Women with Silver Wings

The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

by Katherine Sharp Landdeck

The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck X
The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2020, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2021, 464 pages

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In her nonfiction debut, aviation historian Katherine Sharp Landdeck tells the stories of the daring female pilots that ferried supplies across the U.S. during World War II.

An engaging and comprehensive history, The Women with Silver Wings received 4- or 5- star reviews from 24 out of 27 of our First Impressions reviewers for an overall average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

What it's about:

This is a superbly researched and written book about the brave young women who were eager to serve their country during World War II by ferrying new aircraft from the factories to the military pick-up point. As most able-bodied males were off fighting in the war, there was a serious shortage of pilots. These gutsy women rushed in to fill the void (Betty T). The WASP, a select group of 1,102 women who earned their silver wings having to achieve far more than male pilots, flew more than 60 million miles in 77 different types of aircraft, served as test pilots and trainers, ferried planes, and performed every task other than combat missions that men performed. I was nearly brought to tears on several occasions reading how Congress, the Army, the commercial airlines and the American public marginalized them because they were women (Vivian H).

Virtually all of our First Impressions reviewers were inspired by the stories of these brave women:

It was amazing to me how brave and dedicated these women were and how quickly our nation forgot them when their services were no longer in high demand. Truly a great read for book clubs, for those that enjoy highly readable WWII history, and anyone looking to be inspired by the courage of those that have come before us (Deborah H). The WASPs make me proud to be an American woman and I plan to go to the Air Force Academy museum to see the display on their achievements (Jeanne W). I marveled at the courage and confidence of these women who were our grandmothers and even great grandmothers, who stepped forward to transport aircraft during WWII. They were pioneers and this book chronicles their stories in a very readable way. I felt a personal strength and glory seeing the glimmers of a new dawn for the women today and our struggles for equal status (Evelyn G).

Readers felt the WASPs bravery was particularly impressive due to the sexist attitudes they were up against:

It must have been so frustrating to perform so well and then be told that you're not needed anymore, go back to your knitting and having babies. It is galling to look back and realize that even in the 1970s there were men (and some women) who didn't think these pilots should receive military veteran status. (Jeanne W.) Even though most of the women pilots were better qualified than the male pilots they were not recognized for their service to their country and designated veterans until November 1977. Having served in the USAF in the mid-70s, I could relate to some of the skepticism they encountered, not only from the military men, but from society in general (Betty T).

Many readers lauded the author's research and writing skills and recommended The Women with Silver Wings to others:

How fortunate for us and for Ms. Landdeck that she was actually able to interview these women of various backgrounds. Through these interviews, we learn of their personal difficulties and sacrifice, finally setting the record straight with grit and persistence—just like a woman! (Diane T). This is truly an untold story. You're brought into the details of these women's lives and suddenly you're right there with them (Jeanne W). While there have been other books written about the WASPs, what sets this one apart is the exhaustive effort by the author to meet and interview these women and become a trusted part of the WASP community. Highly recommended (Jeff M). Due to the quality of the writing, I found myself reading through the night and well into the next day. This is a scholarly and compelling landmark book that validates these women's struggles (Sara S). An engaging, inspiring history of the many women who served the WWII war effort and their decades-long fight for respect and recognition. This is a fascinating read, I highly recommend it (Carol C).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in April 2020, and has been updated for the April 2021 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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