Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis

Today Mandie takes over with a blog tour review of Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis, part of the Imperial War Museum Classics collection. Our thanks go to Anne Cater for the tour invite and to the Imperial War Museum for the advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 20 May 2021
Publisher: Imperial War Museum

About the Book

Over the course of one night in 1942, the crew members of Wellington bomber ‘P for Pathfinder’ each reflect on the paths of their own lives, as they embark on a fateful mission deep into the heart of Nazi Germany.

Cecil Lewis’ novel examines the life of every man in turn, rendering a moving account of each as not merely a nameless crew member, but as an individual with a life lived, ‘a life precious to some, or one… these men with dreams and hopes and plans of things to come’.

Mandie’s Thoughts

I have a great fascination for history so when given the opportunity to read another book that has been republished by the Imperial War Museum I jumped at the chance. Pathfinders was originally published in 1944 so if it had not been for this reprinting, I would probably have never come across it.

Pathfinders explores the lives of the crew of a Wellington bomber as they prepare to go on what turns out to be their final mission so if you are expecting a book that details the mission itself then this may not be quite what you expect. Often books about the war focus on the mission and all that it entails but you don’t necessarily really get to know the men at the heart of it. Cecil Lewis used his own experiences to form this book and it certainly shows as there is a sense of realityabout these fictional characters.

The crew of the plane are certainly all different, they have different nationalities and backgrounds and each one has their own reason for being part of the bomber crew. In a confined space they have to learn to trust each other and work together pulling on their individual strengths to ensure each mission is completed and they return safely. As with any book there are some characters you take to more than others, but you still want them all to live beyond the war they are fighting.

This may only be a short book, but it is one that adds that human touch to a time that was often brutal and stark and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for more than just a war story.

About the Author

Cecil Lewis (1898 – 1997) was a British fighter ace in the First World War and a flying instructor for the RAF during the Second World War. One of the founding executives of the BBC, he enjoyed friendships with many of the creative figures of the day including George Bernard Shaw, winning an Academy Award for the 1938 film adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion. Lewis was a prolific writer and his novel Sagittarius Rising became a classic of First World War literature, considered by many as the definitive account of aerial combat. He retained a passion for flying all his life, and was the last surviving British fighter ace of the First World War.

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