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Posted September 1, 2014
Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
Jitterbug Lift by Oliver Flynn is a spellbinding novel which depicts substantial research on the part of the three authors who collaborated to write it. In 1945, Berlin, Germany was being pummeled by the Allied Forces and escape was nearly impossible. But a small band of Jewish citizens managed to smuggle out treasures. The hunt to save those treasures would become the sole focus for a varied group of individuals for the next three to four years. You will meet skilled American airmen, who not only take part in the bombing of Berlin, they return to participate in the food and supplies airdrops which literally save the lives of millions of Berliners. Defying the Russian blockade on goods, pilot Chance Mitchell and his best friend, Nevada, risk life and limb to try to help starving Germans while an enraged Soviet officer attempts to hunt down the treasures as well as the small group invested in keeping the treasures safe. Chance meets Sophia and is immediately smitten with her and yet he does not trust her elusive behavior and information. Nevada goes on a secret mission and, when his plane crashes, Chance has a mission. I found the beginning of the book a bit lacking in suspense as there was a great deal of information about the mechanics and specifics of the airplane. But, when the plot did develop, it was filled with suspense and intrigue to the point that readers will wonder who is working for the good guys and who is trying their best to undermine the good guys' efforts.
Chance and Nevada were both lovable and devil-may-care characters and they just beg for the reader to be in their cheering section. Author Flynn did an outstanding job of keeping the roles of the Nazis and the Russians true and frightening. The character of Sophia was the most intriguing as the reader had a sense of goodness of purpose about the woman, despite her obvious callous and stern exterior. Although it is not until the last few chapters that the reader gains information about what the Jitterbug Lift is really all about, I advise you not to peek and spoil a surprise that will leave you with a "feel good" feeling. A big applause is due for the research in this fascinating historical novel.
Posted April 9, 2014
Jitterbug Lift had me by page 5. As a history buff I was thrilled with the attention to detailed research For the youth of today this book should be a must read. Learning about history, in novel form, will keep them revited. It is about sacrifice and what a person will do to survive and what one will do for revenge. It shows a time in history that is not well known. A time of unsung heroes. A time to hunt for treasure and bring it home where it belongs. Man at his worst and man at his best. This book is truly a gift to the reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 8, 2013
Reading “Jitterbug Lift” was like watching a great movie in Smell-A-Vision on a roller coaster while trying to balance a bucket of popcorn on my knees. It had me at page 1. A riveting page-turner, its themes of forgiveness and solidarity resonate in our 21st Century as ever more lines in the sand are drawn politically, globally, sexually, and racially. These days when someone can lose their life for wearing a “hoodie” or a turban, it’s important to remember the Berlin Airlift—when the same pilots who dropped bombs over Berlin volunteered to save Berliners from starving at the hands of the occupying Soviets three years later.
Jesus advised us to turn the other cheek. But just how challenging is that really? The answer fuels “Jitterbug Lift.”
As a baby boomer, I knew about the Cold War, but not what started it. Despite my Southern teachers’ insistence that Communism was a “Red Menace,” I was not sure if that was entirely true. I don’t know why I remained ignorant of the sadistic “Berlin Blockade” engineered by the Soviets to force post-war Berliners into submission through deprivation.
Oliver Flynn (actually 3 authors) has crafted a masterpiece that boldly tackles an aspect of Western Allies’ involvement in the Cold War that goes beyond spy vs. spy. Not only is “Jitterbug Lift” historically accurate, it offers a fun read with delicious writing. Some of my favorite lines include:
“Years of flying mixed with an almost spiritual understanding of what keeps planes in the air moved his hands and eyes.”
“It took an hour for the doctor with them to separate Ivanoff’s charred back from the remnants of the cockpit seat.”
As a Jewish woman who lost most of her family in the Holocaust, I was a tad wary of a story that may be “pro-German.” I found that the story is pro-human life. Jewish and otherwise.
And the best part? Women save the day. Feeble, starved, strong women. The storyline runs on contradictions, paradoxes and ironies. Our Kraut-hating American hero, Chance, trades bombs for food cargo as the former bomber pilot takes on missions with the Airlift to rescue his friend whose plane has gone down in enemy territory. The Allies’ new enemy (Soviet Union) is their former friend and vice versa. And there’s a mysterious femme fatale who will do anything for a “higher cause”—and I mean anything. Even ordinary furniture takes on a sinister use when it’s used as a torture device.
A friend asked if “Jitterbug Lift” is a “bodice ripper.” Well, buttons do pop off from time to time, but at its core, this is a Love Story. The love of one man for his best friend; one American for one German; citizens for their country; parents for children; the religious for their religion; prisoners for freedom; and the most moving of all:
The love of humans for humanity.