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A Tribute to Daring WWII Pilots - an Editorial Review of "Moral Fibre"



Book Blurb:


Riding the icy, moonlit sky-- They took the war to Hitler. Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent. Their average age was 21. This is the story of just one Lancaster skipper, his crew, and the woman he loved. It is intended as a tribute to them all.

Flying Officer Kit Moran has earned his pilot's wings, but the greatest challenges still lie ahead: crewing up and returning to operations. Things aren't made easier by the fact that while still a flight engineer, he was posted LMF (Lacking in Moral Fibre) for refusing to fly after a raid on Berlin that killed his best friend and skipper. Nor does it help that he is in love with his dead friend's fiance, who is not yet ready to become romantically involved again.



Author Bio:



Helena P. Schrader

Award-Winning Historical Novelist

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced and sophisticated historical fiction based on sound research. Her inspiring novels offer refreshing insights into historical events and personalities.

Helena P. Schrader holds a PhD in history and was a career diplomat. She employs her skills of observation and communication to convey the drama and excitement of the events and societies described. She delivers her stories through the eyes of complex and compelling characters—male and female—drawn from the pages of history.

She earned a PhD in History (cum Laude) from the University of Hamburg with a ground-breaking dissertation on a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler, which received widespread praise on publication in Germany. Her non-fiction publications include "Sisters in Arms: The Women who Flew in WWII," "The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift," "Codename Valkyrie: General Friederich Olbricht and the Plot against Hitler," (an English-language adaptation of her dissertation), and "The Holy Land in the Era of the Crusades: Kingdoms at the Crossroads of Civilizations."

Helena has published eighteen historical novels and won numerous literary awards, including “Best Biography 2017” from Book Excellence Awards and “Best Historical Fiction 2020” from Feathered Quill Book Awards. For more on her publications, works-in-progress, reviews and awards visit: http://helenapschrader.com

Her most recent release, "Moral Fibre" has won widespread critical acclaim and is already the winner of a Maincrest Media Award for Military Fiction.

Helena's novel on the Battle of Britain, "Where Eagles Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel," won the praise of Wing Commander Bob Doe -- one of the few surviving RAF aces of the Battle of Britain. Doe called it the "best book" he had ever read about the Battle of Britain, adding that Helena "got it smack on the way it was for us fighter pilots." It was re-released in an updated illustrated edition for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2020 and won the Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction and a Media Crest Award for military fiction. It has also won critical acclaim from Kirkus and Clarion Foreword Reviews.

"Grounded Eagles," a finalist for the Book Excellence Awards, is an anthology of novellas set in WWII. Disfiguring injuries, a single a parent balancing family and career, and PTSD are the focus of these three heart wrenching tales.

"Traitors for the Sake of Humanity: A Novel on the German Resistance to Hitler" was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Awards, a reflection of its relevance in a world where fascism is on the rise. It highlights the difficulties and costs of opposing an established totalitarian regime.

The Greek and Polish language rights to her three-part biography of Leonidas of Sparta have been purchased by Greek and Polish publishers respectively.

Her Jerusalem Trilogy, a three-part biography of Balian d'Ibelin, earned a total of 11 literary accolades, including Best Biography 2017 by Book Excellence Awards and Best Christian Historical Fiction 2017 by Readers' Favorites. All three books in the Jerusalem Trilogy were awarded B.R.A.G. medallions.

Her series on the baronial rebellion against the autocracy of Emperor Frederick II in thirteenth century Outremer (the Rebels of Outremer series) has to date won nine awards including Best Historical Fiction 2020 from Feathered Quill Awards and Distinguished Favorite for Military Fiction 2020 from the Independent Press Awards for "The Emperor Strikes Back."

For a complete list of awards and review excerpts visit Helena's website at: http://www.helenapschrader.com


Editorial Review:


All the rumours about what happened to men like him who “lacked moral fibre” crowded his brain – court martial, demotion to aircraftman, assignment to humiliating duties such as cleaning latrines or working in the morgue, or a dishonorable discharge and industrial conscription to the coal mines or a munitions factory. Whatever they did to him, the blot on his record would be forever.


Helena P. Schrader's choice of title is as perfect a choice as one could hope for for a historical novel; a title which weaves the thread of the theme through the entire lives of the characters involved... and not just the characters but it also takes on a literary tone as the book calls to question the world's moral fibre, especially in light of the atrocities of war, racism, duty, and enduring love. What would a person do when faced with the innumerable choices raised in the midst of the chaos of all of these?


Don't plan on building a future here, Kit,” his father warned. “When the Colonies go up in flames, you don't want to be anywhere on this continent.”


At the outset, Christopher “Kit” Moran faces a dilemma after being tagged as LMF, lacking moral fibre, after refusing to continue flying sorties after a dear friend is killed. Instead of the “get back on the horse” mentality, he chooses to suffer the consequences, and tries to deal with the possibility that his career is over. After all, most LMFs are reduced to 'grunt' work and suffer stark humiliation from other pilots, from family, and from former friends. But this is not his only concern, for he finds himself strongly attracted to his friend's fiancee, and after spending some time at her parent's home inYorkshire, their attraction for one another blossoms, and he is given the opportunity, quite unexpectedly, to return to operations and train a crew.


Kit didn't plan to die, but he couldn't escape the feeling that his chances of survival were poor. Statistically, more than half the men in this room would be dead before they completed their first tour. Kit's unease, however, extended beyond the statistics.


It is during these training sessions that a reader truly gets to know Kit Moran, and his background which brings to light the other issues he has faced all of his life as a young man growing up in Africa, with a white British father and a black Zulu mother. The themes of injustice, tolerance, hatred, and resiliency in the face of the horrific racial genocide suffered by the Jews brings the core thread of a person's moral fibre to the forefront. Georgina, Kit's former friend's fiancee, and now his true love, also shows her worth by sticking by him even with the weekly knowledge that every sortie he flies might be his last. She never waivers in her loyalty and love, and looks beyond any possible strife the two of them might face as a mixed-race couple in the time period in which they live.


And as if that weren't bad enough, sitting only a few feet away was an Englishwoman, his own flesh and blood, who, despite everything this appalling war should have taught, was just as bigoted as any Nazi. His own sister was ready to insult, isolate, and discriminate against people purely on the basis of their race. He was acutely aware that in less than a decade the Germans had gone from the Nuremburg Laws, that inhibited Jewish participation in the economy, to full-scale genocide. … Far from being a specifically German problem, Auschwitz illustrated the fact that all societies and nations could commit acts of gross inhumanity when manipulated by evil leaders. Which, Edwin concluded, meant that the most dangerous 'Nazis' were those at home.


The author's ability to draw in a reader is evident from the very first, with absorbing dialogue and first-rate scene-setting, especially when the reader is able to soar through the heights as again and again, Kit's crew bombs essential German targets over the enemy lines. You, indeed, get a sense of flying in these heart-pounding episodes full of incredible descriptive narration and real-life emotions... and not just with Kit's character, but with every one of the crew members, such as the handsome navigator, Adrian, who has difficulty choking at very inopportune moments and faces his own questions of lacking moral fibre. The research done for this type of book is immense and while the end notes gives a full accounting of some of the author's knowledge of these cloud-bound battles, you can't help but feel as if she, herself, sat in the cockpit and experienced them first-hand in order to relay them in such a believable way to the reader. Very very well done. This along with the ability to charge the reader to look into themselves in regards to their own moral fibre, bringing up such questions as – when faced with racial injustice, will you stand up to the wrongness of this vice? When faced with life or death, will you show your courageous strength or cower ignobly? Will you stick by someone, showing the truest depths of love and loyalty, even when faced with possible tragedy, or will you run away as a coward? All these, this book tackles in a very authentic way, wrapping the theme in a lovely heart-warming love story. Very highly recommended.


Perhaps He granted us longer life for a purpose. Perhaps rather than forgotten, we were chosen. Might He have given us a second chance to demonstrate our moral fibre?...”


*****


“Moral Fibre” by Helena P. Schrader receives five stars from The Historical Fiction Company and the 2023 “Highly Recommended” award.


Award:





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