Arts & Entertainment

Millburn Library Hosts Author John Lanza; Discussion of "Shot Down Over Italy"

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MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Free Public Library is hosting John Lanza in collaboration with the NJ WWII Book Club on April 11. At this free program is open to the public starts at 7:00 pm and will focus Lanza's book "Shot Down Over Italy." Lanza, a Caldwell resident, wrote his first novel after hearing stories from his 90-year old uncle William Lanza and eventually traveled to Italy to meet the men that helped the airman evade capture in Nazi occupied Italy.

“Thank you for listening to your uncle, and for writing this true story of courage and survival. You have made his recollections into an outstanding, definitive, carefully-researched and thoroughly-documented history of those life-defining times." said Victor J. Hancock, the editor of Men of the 57th Bomb Wing. "The book flows in such a way that the reader will feel the psychological effects of combat. Those who read it will appreciate, in detail, the risks of flying combat missions, and what it took to be a combat crew member. It is a fitting tribute to your uncle and his crew, and thus to all men who served with the 57th Bomb Wing in North Africa, Sicily, Corsica and Italy during the war.”

The 368 page novel is described on Amazon as: 

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On May 26, 1944, a B-25 Mitchell bomber with a seven-man crew was shot down over Nazi-occupied Italy. At the time, Italy was a battleground in a bloody war of attrition. This crew trained long and hard to prepare for combat, but nothing prepared them for evading the enemy, surviving a prisoner of war camp, or worse still, death. Little was known about the experiences of each crew member after the plane was shot down, even by their families, because evaders have to certify in writing that they will remain silent, prisoners of war choose to remain silent about their hellholes, and the war dead can't tell tales. This all changed in 2006 when the nephew of one of the crew members became curious upon learning that his uncle and another crew member survived the war thanks to the courage of his pilot and two Italian partisans and their families. During the ensuing four years, the author bonded with his uncle, visited the two Italian families, and connected with the only other surviving crew member as well as the families and friends of the deceased crew members. Along the way, he pieced together a captivating true story with many fascinating aspects, including a pilot who put his crew's safety above his own, airmen who trusted partisans with their lives, partisans who risked their lives to honor this trust, airmen who as prisoners of war survived inhumane conditions, and families who struggled to deal with the cruel realities of war.

For more information visit the website at www.njww2bookclub.com

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