At the same time exciting, historically accurate and emotional story
By Denis Vukosav
‘Shot Down’ written by Steve Snyder tells a true story about the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth and its crew during the World War II. The reason for writing this book lies in the author’s family inheritance, precisely because of his father who was the pilot of the airplane that was named after his baby daughter, and took part in the incredible events that have befallen the crew of this aircraft.
Steve Snyder’s work is well-researched and offers story not only rich in details about this airplane and its crew, but goes even further, providing a numerous details and less known facts about the people and events of the Second World War. I was very surprised that Snyder even made the effort to find the German pilot who shot down a plane piloted by his father, showing his desire to present the events in detail and from multiple angles, which is why his story is authentic and comprehensive.
The B17, the four-engine heavy bombers produced during the 1930s for the US Army Air Corps, were extensively used during the World War II bombing of occupied Europe. Their crews were therefore very courageous groups of people that have taken a huge risk because of overflight of enemy territory, resulting in many deaths due to destruction of aircrafts or as a result of capture by the Nazis.
The B-17 aircraft piloted by Steve Snyder’s father, Howard, was one of those destroyed planes – on February 8, 1944 they were hit and shot down between France and Belgium. In his book, Steve Snyder tells a story about everything that happened to his father and other brave people from his crew after they had been shot down.
What I especially like is that the author has not fallen into the trap to write a story that would be of interest only to historians; instead Snyder’s story is at the same time exciting, historically accurate and emotional, while especially touching are the letters author’s father wrote to his wife when far from each other.
The level of detail together with quality of description is exceptional, showing how much courage was required to participate in the events of those turbulent years, as well as the fear that is present among the crew not to end up as German prisoners of war.
Therefore, Steve Snyder must be congratulated on a job well done in writing not only the history of his family, but also the work that far exceeds these boundaries – an extremely powerful and detailed faction work that remains permanently in memory of reader
Therefore ‘Shot Down’ is a must-read for historians and people who like to read about WW II, a well-made book that besides providing an exciting family history brings lot of unknown and interesting information based on extensive research Steve Snyder conducted.
I was given a copy of this book by the author for the purpose of unbiased review, while all the presented information is based on my impressions.
It is our duty to remember
California author Steve Snyder studied and gained his BA in Economics at UCLA, using that training in national sales and sales management. Since retiring he has focused his fascination with World War II history, especially those of his father, pilot Howard Snyder and his crew of the B-17, Susan Ruth, named after his older sister. After nearly five years of research he penned SHOT DOWN, and for an `amateur historian’ he has won awards and applause form distinguished authors and historians and he now participates in many World War II associations, in addition to being Vice President of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association. In 1994 and 2004 he participated in the Anniversaries of the Liberation of Belgium. All of this comes home in this immensely interesting history of an important event too few of us know.
Not only has Steve achieved a meticulously researched book, recreating this moment of military history when on February 8, 1944 The B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Roth was shot down, landing in Belgium, but he also molds an empathetic novel that allows the reader to be there, terrified and surviving along side men we come to know through Steve’s exceptional writing. SHOT DOWN Shot Down was created from the vast number of letters and journals of Howard Snyder; diaries of men and women on the ground who rescued, sheltered and hid the crew; and interviews conducted by historians. The build up to the tragedy details training tactics, the increasing tension of the war as it built toward 1944, and the aftermath of the downing of the plane under the beneficent care of Lt. Howard Synder. There is more information here about the underground support of US troops in Europe and the interaction between the citizens of Belgium and the crews of airmen whom they aided in providing protection and friendship.
Another aspect that makes this book so very fine is the inclusion of many photographs taken during the war, from intimate images of the crew members to planes in flight to battles to images of telegrams and letters – Steve covers his story pictorially as well as with the written word. This book is a film waiting to be optioned, one of the war films that hopefully will encourage us never to forget the valor of the fighting forces not only in WW II, but in all wars where men and women offer their lives for their country. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, April 15
Felt like you were on the mission
I just finished this good read. Having flown in the Navy, and being a WW ll history buff, the book was hard to put down. The author paid great tribute to his Dad and the crew of the Susan Ruth. He laced his Dad’s incredible experiences with historical facts that I did not know. Loved the book and highly recommend this fast, but well put together story. I can’t get the young Mormon bombardier, who was betrayed by a Belgian citizen, and executed in the woods, by Germans, out of my thoughts.
We enjoy our freedom
I couldn’t put it down. No pun intended. Shot Down is a must read by every American, not just World War II aficionados. We enjoy our freedom, in large part, because thousands of young American men, against steep odds of survival, had the courage and commitment to get in an airplane, risk mechanical failure, pilot error and enemy fighters and flak, to honor their country’s call to defeat Hitler and his gang of thugs.
Author Steve Snyder, in dramatic detail, tells the story. He sets forth the history and wartime experience of the 306th Bomb Group of the U.S. 8th Air Force and, in particular, that of Snyder’s father, Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth. The Group was based in England and flew missions over occupied Europe to hit German targets. Singled out by a German Focke Wulf firing 20mm cannons, and hit by flak that took three feet off the left wing, the Susan Ruth was shot down on Howard’s 6th mission on February 8, 1944. Miraculously, Howard was able to bail out though the B-17 was crippled, on fire and beginning its plunge to earth. Landing in a tree in Belgium, Howard was hidden by brave Belgian citizens, eventually joining the French Resistance, participating in the D-Day invasion by blowing up rail lines and harassing German forces.
It was not easy to sleep after reading Snyder’s account of the Bomb Group’s action, which makes plain the terrible odds of U.S. airmen ever seeing home and loved ones again. These young men, after their buddies and friends were lost to German fire, day after day, would step up and one more time face death or bailing out into enemy occupied territory where capture and sometimes execution by Nazi SS criminals was likely.
Snyder’s account of the Susan Ruth’s fate and the attempts of the crew to escape the burning plane are searing. He quotes his father:
“…I could hear 20 mm [cannons] striking and exploding
as they hit the ship. Pieces of equipment and parts of the
ship were flying about, striking my feet and legs…As I
looked around in a half-dazed state, I became slowly
conscious that the entire cockpit was filled with smoke
Howard, the last man out of the burning plane, jumped at 20,000 feet and was “missing in action” until meeting up with allied forces well after the Normandy invasion. Two of the Susan Ruth crew were killed by the German fighter’s attack, three were captured, spent time in German prison camps and came home alive, three crew members were captured and executed by the Nazis, and two were successfully hidden, including Howard Snyder, and repatriated by American forces after D-Day. The account of the courageous Belgian citizens, hiding and protecting the fliers and the close calls they experienced with the Gestapo searching and always on the lookout for the Susan Ruth’s survivors, is riveting.
Snyder speaks of the preparation and education of airmen, their deployment to a part of the world unknown to them and their stoic acceptance of their role in defeating the Nazi’s. I can’t imagine being challenged by the choices these young Americans faced. My heart went out to the gunners, the navigators, the bombardiers and the pilots who sacrificed for us, much of their experience unknown to Americans today. Snyder thankfully closes that gap as best one can in a book of this sort.
I warn you: this book will make you cry, cry for those who never came back, for their families and loved ones who sent them off, never to see them again. And care deeply about those who were lucky enough to see our shores once more and who did their duty to take the war to those who started it. It also reminded me of the evil humankind is capable of imposing and the perils of averting our eyes lest we shrink from opposing it.
If you like your freedom, read this book and thank those who made it possible. Thank you, Steve Snyder, for telling the story!
A fascinating and intimate view of the experience of a B17 pilot, his crew and fellow airmen during World War II
A fascinating and well written book about B17 Flying Fortress’ crew training, the plane itself, the war experience and trials of different pilots, plus the story of heroes that were shot down into enemy territory, and who were rescued by Belgian and French citizens.
I loved the insight given by Howard Snyder (Steve’s dad) through his letters and diary excerpts, and the photos of family, crew members and the people of Belgium and France who helped Howard and his fellow airmen once they were shot down.
Included are actual love letters to those back home
VERY WELL DONE. The author had to have done a mountain of research to accurately and historically describe the events that surrounded the main character (his Dad) as he flew a B-17 over Europe, was shot down, and evaded capture. The book is as much a factual history text as it is a human interest story of how the war impacted the lives of those who fought and their families back home. Included are actual love letters to those back home, actual photographs of those involved and diagrams to help the reader visualize events. The overall story puts a very deft human touch on the impact the war had on countless lives. A VERY GOOD READ.
A masterful addition to the History of WWII
This life story of Howard Snyder, the author’s father, is a great addition to the history of the Mighty 8th Army Air Forces and its successful impact on the final defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII. Steve Snyder’s unique perspective and extensive research has produced an historical masterpiece which should be part of every library in America and in England, to complete the “History of the Mighty 8th” and WWII itself! Hopefully it will eventually become a movie so that as many people as possible will learn of the heroism of the crews of the B-17s to bring that horrendous war to a quicker, proper ending.
I loved it Steve. My past few years of research into the downed pilots and crews in the area has been an amazing journey. Shot Down opens the history books on a little remembered event just an hour from my current home. Other than family of the crew and the people directly impacted by them, few know the tale. I am proud that you were able to put this piece together. Proud to know my co-workers played a small part in telling this story and proud that we will once again recognize Howard Snyder and his crew once again this year.
I generally avoid getting personal in Amazon reviews, but the story brought tears to me eyes. I know it so well, but reading it from a new perspective filled so many gaps. Thanks for finally getting this story to print so many years after the event. It had to be told. Lest we forget.
A joy to read
I was delighted to be given an opportunity to read this book. I have been reading around a lot of the subject matter of WWII and this synopsis immediately drew my attention, I do love a true story. I really loved the way that the book was written and the extracts from the authors father to his mother when he was overseas are touching and I feel privileged to have been able to read these. The descrptions in the book are fantastic and it really goes in to the detail of what it would have been like to be fearful of becoming a POW and the threat of being caught by the Nazi’s that were patrolling over Belgium and France at the time. It really does bring it home what these servicemen went through to assist a wartorn country hundreds of miles from home. They truly were very brave gentlemen
An excellent explanation of a B 17 crew training and preparation for missions.
This book is the story of a B 17 crew from the first days of their training through their first missions in England with the 306th Bomb Group I particularly enjoyed the description of training as this was new to me. The description of missions and the equipment the crew used was also very informative. The story of the crew after the plane was shot down is also interesting but the best part for me was the informative sections about the training in the US and the equipment and preparation for missions. It’s highly recommended.
Snyder hits a home run, must read
Educational yet touching, Steve Snyder hits a home run with his freshmen effort in Shot Down. I enjoyed reading about the training these men went through in the States and England, as well as the different jobs each man had in the B-17 plane. The personal and touching part comes into play with the many letters Howard wrote home to his newlywed and pregnant wife during the war. The stories of the WWII POWs are exciting, nerve wracking and anxiety-ridden as Snyder puts the reader in the front seat describing what happened to the men in his Father’s crew. I highly recommend this book and feel every American should read it to learn about where we come from as a nation, and the steep price we’ve paid along the way.
Easy to Read
The American B-17 bomber was shot down over Belgium. The crew parachuted out. Yet the pilot himself landed awkwardly, and was left hanging from the limb of a tree, dangling twenty feet above the ground. German soldiers were looking for the flight crew, but the recent snow fall made it difficult for their dogs to find the scent. First, however, people from the Belgian underground found the pilot. They cut him down, took him in, and sheltered him and other crew members until peace came many months later.
The story is well told and paced, easy to read, with evident research, including many apt photographs and reproductions. Members of the Army Air Corps had arrived in England. A major challenge was mastering the difficult art of all-weather flying in tight formations, maintained for protection from enemy fighter aircraft. A view of the private lives of the American airmen is presented. The author, being the son of the pilot Howard Snyder, can give insider perspectives, and indicates the emotional quality and intuitive realities of live in these historic circumstances.
Great book, couldn’t put it down. Very well written and very interesting subject matter.
This is truly an amazingly personal story. It is …
This is truly an amazingly personal story. It is a “must read” for anyone with an interest in WWII. Steve Snyder is to be complimented for his thorough research and really heart-warming story of one of the true heros of the war.
Great Story of Real Heroes
I was very interested to read this book as my grandfather was a pilot in the same bomb squadron that the Susan Ruth’s crew member’s were in.
The book did not disappoint. It perfected that hard to find balance of being a bit of a history book, conveying the day to day aspect of being a bomber crewman, and telling an emotional, exciting, gripping story that is hard to put down.
I personally really liked that Steve told the story/process of training to become a bomber pilot very effectively. I have read a good amount of books on B 17 bombers and a lot of them skip or give scant information about that part and start in England. I learned a lot more about that. The book really tells about normal people that you can relate to who rise to become heroes due to living through the war.
I really liked the exciting, but mostly scary flying/combat parts, but another element is added to the story after they are SHOT DOWN- survival and the hard decisions people had to make during WW2, where each choice had huge effects for everybody. If you are interested in WW2 or the bombers you will enjoy this book!
It was very quick and easy read as you wanted to see what was going …
This book as a person not familiar with this war was very insightful and could tell it was written with heart. It was very quick and easy read as you wanted to see what was going to happen with the war and the love Steve’s Dad had for his wife and family. I love nonfiction books. Great read even for younger generations.
By Melissa W. See all my reviews
I received this book from my Uncle and once I got started, I could not put it down. Having just returned from Belgium where I visited several World War II sites, I especially enjoyed reading a narrative that was well researched and rich in detail. I have read several fiction and non-fiction World War II era books and this one stands out because of the accuracy in detail and the personal stories woven into the bigger picture. It was interesting to see the impact that the American military had, not only on Americans but of the Belgian and French people they encountered. I only wish that I had read this book before my trip to Belgium, not after. I would highly recommend this book to anybody looking for a great World War II era book.
I gave copies to my sons, a must read.
Thank You Steven Snyder- a must read. My understanding of WW II was limited to some history and Hollywood, enjoying movies like Twelve O’clock High and Memphis Belle. I enjoy seeing old planes at air parks and memorials, driving past the parked B-17 on Hwy 99 in Tulare CA, thinking that I have lived my life in peace, thanks to the service of our Servicemen. Reading Shot Down, I have some understanding of how the war affected so many lives. This is more than a story of the crew of the Susan Ruth. Shot Down shares the story of the Belgian villagers who lost all that was theirs and risked their lives for the support of the bombers. The history in the book told of the horrors the Nazis inflicted on towns and villages. The notes and letters provided made the story very personal for me. The factual information, statistics, drove home the magnitude and impact of the war. This is a history lesson I consider as world events unfold today. I gave copies to my sons, a must read
I really enjoyed the is book for the following reasons:
1. I learned a lot about the bravery of the Belgian resistance. At times, my jaw dropped when I read about the incredible risks they took to save downed Allied airmen.
2. The personal letters between the crew of the Susan Ruth and their loved ones back home brought the story to life.
3. Finding and interviewing the German pilot who shot down the American B-17 demonstrates the author’s enthusiasm for research.
4. This isn’t just a personal tribute to the author’s father, but a serious attempt to explain the air war in Europe, from the American point of view.
In his video interview on Goodreads, the author says he was trying to appeal both to military historians and the general public. I would say he has succeeded with flying colours!
Shot Down is a great read for those interested in the history of our …
Shot Down is a great read for those interested in the history of our Army Air Force through the eyes of Howard Snyder. The book takes us from training, to flying missions, to being shot down then to Howard’s story of evading the enemy for months. The sacrifices of so many to make that happen. A truly enjoyable read.
This is an easy read, and what a way to learn some WWII history.
By Margie E. Brown
This is an easy read, and what a way to learn some WWII history. Mr. Snyder makes it all very real. His research was extensive. Traveling to Belgium for reunions gave the locals who aided his father and crew a chance to assist in the telling of this epic tale. A movie should be next on the agenda.
4 and a Half Years in the making an Important Historical piece.
By John Fish
As the title suggests, this is the true story of what happened to the B-17 bomber ‘Susan Ruth’ and its crew. The difference is it is written by the Pilots Son so it is a very personal account.
The crews of the B-17 bombers were some of the bravest, flying daylight missions over enemy territory, hitting important targets to deplete Germany’s fighting capacity so many young men were lost flying deadly missions over Germany and occupied Europe.
On February 8, 1944 Howard Snyder’s B-17 was shot down over the France/Belgium border so here is the real story of ‘Shot Down ‘ of what happened to the crew, this is no ordinary true story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the crew that was shot down while on a mission.
Steve Snyder must be congratulated on the immense task in writing what is a truly an ‘outstandingly detailed historical account’ of what happened to his father.
When you first open the book the author brings us some family history and then the incredible detailed account of what the crew and how they arrived in England and the training, also what went on behind the scenes with the crews of the B-17 Squadrons were they went during rare days off.
This is not just an account of the crew, there is also the research that has gone into what it was like to fly a B-17 and the preparation of each mission and the detail of the aircraft is what makes this book such a vital historical piece of work.
Then of course we must look at the bravery of each crew member and also the people on the ground who looked after those that made alive. Of the ten man crew some sadly died some were captured and taken prisoner and then there is Howard Snyder the Pilot of ‘Susan Ruth’ who evaded capture and was missing in action for seven months, this is what then happened.
The story is emotional and packed with bravery and tragedy, the book is packed with photographs and letters from those involved. When you read the account of when the Bomber was hit and the crew had to bail out you become involved and share the sheer terror and confusion.
Finally at the end of the War Howard Snyder pays tribute to those that sheltered him from being captured and how they put their own lived in danger by doing just that, knowing that if they were caught they would have been shot. Imagine if you can evading capture for seven months.
This is truly an outstanding account and also an important account of what happened to the Crew and pays tribute to all those brave airmen that gave so much so that we could enjoy the freedom we take for granted today. If you enjoy reading military history, then this is one book you must add to your library. You will not be disappointed.
I am pleased to enclosed a copy of my review as promised for ‘Shot Down’ and to congratulate you on an outstanding piece of work. It is also an important historical piece of work that gives an insight into what life must have have been like flying in a B-17 Bomber. A real honour and a pleasure to have been asked to review your book.
I can remember as a youngster building a B-17 from a plastic Airfix kit and used to wonder what it was like. Well now I know and the bravery of your father and the crews is something that should be shared. Thank you.
My best wishes, John
READ JOHN’S REVIEW (PDF)
Excellent! A must read.
Excellent book. I have read a number of the books of this Genre, From Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s Enemy Coast ahead, to Adam Makos’s A higher Call, both factual accounts of personal experience that inform and educate. “Shot Down” is the equal of either in the way it tells the story of Howard Snyder and his crew who are thrown to the winds of fortune over occupied Europe.
Gripping, informative and humbling. A must read if you are interested in first hand WWII history.
Fascinating tale of heroism
Beautifully written and fascinating. A genuine insight into the life, challenges, tragedy, and emotion of a B-17 pilot and his crew… The author somehow manages to grasp the feelings, the heroism, the excitement of the time… A great book…
Amazing book!!!! I read a lot of World War Two history but this is a first for me reading a fathers story told by his son. Stories about U.S. military men being shot down and evading capture are rare because it didn’t happen to often. If you’re into WW II history get this book!!!
**I was gifted a copy of this book for review purposes**
As the title suggests, Shot Down tells the story(s) of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth and its crew. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to pilot a flying fortress, you are about to find out.
Snyder displays an impressive knowledge of the subject matter and is keen to present his story with a high degree of historical accuracy. The stories are based around the experiences of his father, and Snyder’s passion for the subject shows. He has left no stone unturned in his quest for authenticity, and I must take my hat off to him for his Herculean effort.
My biggest issue is the blurb – it seems rushed with excessive superlatives and grammatical niggles. I expected largely the same from the rest of the book; how wrong I was. Maybe it’s because the work has been professionally edited and the blurb overlooked, but where it matters the writing quality is immaculate.
Snyder shows us real photographs and letters, he gives us every technological detail, shows us how the people lived, and provides a real sense of the time period. I have read the other reviews on this book, one from a historian who has validated the historical details, and although I am no historian myself, I see no reason to question this. As such I feel it is near impossible to criticise this book, and I have no doubt that readers will not be disappointed. Exceptional work.
… and what a great read it was
Just finished SHOT DOWN ,and what a great read it was! I would encourage anyone interested in U.S. history or World history to pick up a copy. It is chock full of detail about the aircraft used in WWII, the flying conditions,the targets, and why it was necessary to bomb them. Additionally the bios of the crews and the anecdotal asides are informative and add a touch of humanity to the inhumane experience that is war. I have been there (Viet Nam) and can appreciate how jokes, nick names and naming planes and even weapons somehow helps the men maintain their sanity. The authors attention to such detail is commendable.
Howards story is a microcosm of what makes America the greatest and most beneficent country in the history of mankind. This is a truly great story well told by the author. I hope other stories are in the works. Get a copy and enjoy! dms
Once again in awe of the greatest generation
The story of the Susan Ruth and her crew is both heart warming and heart wrenching. The detail and research done to convey this adventure does honor to the brave men who fought for freedom in Europe. It makes me wish I could have known each of them and makes me once again in awe of the greatest generation.
The Greatest Generation
This is a compelling book about people doing their duty amidst incredible adversity. The author’s personal story of his father will resonate with anyone that has suffered the loss of a loved one to war. Readers will meet real people dealing with the grim reality of flight, combat, and enemy occupation.
This was a great book, and I learned a lot about our …
This was a great book, and I learned a lot about our history and World War ll, with our “greatest generation” and their enormous courage and bravery. As painful as certain parts were, (the reality of war), this book shows the strength of the human spirit, and to what lengths the soldiers, and civilians, would risk their lives for their freedoms, against Nazi Germany. It’s especially enjoyable, as its written about Howard Snyder and his crew by Steve Snyder, Howard’s son, with actual notes, letters, and thoughts written by Howard Snyder. It should be made into a movie!
… and supporting each other at times when the fate of loved ones was unknown
I give SHOT DOWN a well deserved five star rating. It is well written, and its subject matter is significant because it personalizes the lives of not only those who fought so bravely to save the world from tyranny, but also of those who fought the war on the home front by raising families, working in the factories and fields, and supporting each other at times when the fate of loved ones was unknown. The book also has historical significance.It will help preserve the record of war for future generations. I highly recommend this book.
Just finished this book and I must say it is worth every penny! Steve Snyder did an exceptional job bringing a new dimension to the air war in Europe. His dad, like so many men in service at that time, sacrificed so much for America. I am glad these vets are getting the recognition that afforded our generation so much. God bless America! Thank you Steve for sharing your dad’s story.
An excellent, well-written and researched
An excellent, well-written and researched, easy to read book. I served in the USAF from 1952-1979, and was fortunate to serve with many of those who survived these dangerous and all-to-often fatal mission. My greatest hero, friend and mentor was one of those who was shot down in Jan, 1944 and held POW for 15 months in a POW camp. Steve Snyder captured the essence of the courage of those who got up on ech mission day, felt the fear, overcame it and climbed aboard those B-17’s. I was also highly impressed with his coverage of an often-forgotten band of heroes who put their lives on the line, to protect and assist those aircrews that went down in their home countries. In spite of the certain fate that awaited them if caught, their love of freedom overcame those fears. Our nation owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude.
CMSgt Edward C. Beard, USAF, Ret
… generation that responded to the world threat of the greatest evil of our time along with recognition of those …
A Compelling story of the heroics of the generation that responded to the world threat of the greatest evil of our time along with recognition of those Europeans more directly affected who selflessly supported the cause of their liberation.
The fact that this was a detailed history of a father’s contribution, detailed by his son behind exhaustive research and corroboration makes it even more compelling. The primary story of heroism coupled with the family recognition of a contributor makes it a great read
Loved it !!
Great read…filled with historical references !!
Their memory must be preserved and this book does it!
I loved this book! My mother is the widow of the co-pilot, George Eike. Today is her birthday(93) and I thought it was a good time to tell everyone to read this book! It’s about real people! It is not a fiction but an account of what actually happened to the crew of the Susan Ruth. The memories of those young men will be forever memorialized on these pages. The story is as important today as it was in history. Not just WWII buffs will enjoy this story but anyone who wants to learn about the sacrifice that all our men and women in the armed forces face each day. Well done!
“Shot Down” is a real page-turner and gives a great perspective of what could and did happen to these …,
This outstanding book contains riveting tales of the extraordinary bravery exhibited by the bomber crews during WWII. The extensive research into and the detailed explanations of the demise of the crew of the B-17 “Susan Ruth” of the Eighth Air Force, as well as other crews, is a remarkable example of the danger of flying missions in the perilous skies over enemy territory as well as the hardships faced after bailing out of a doomed bomber.
“Shot Down” is a real page-turner and gives a great perspective of what could and did happen to these young heroes who put their lives on the line for us! I loved the way it was woven together and would recommend the book to all! Steve Snyder has written a great tribute to his Dad and all those heroes who sacrificed for our freedom!
I would give this a full five-star rating. Excellent book. Everything written in the other reviews is accurate and expresses my feelings as well. It was an easy read and made me feel like I was actually there. Steve did a masterful job.
I recently read Steve Snyder’s excellent book about his father and the B-17
I recently read Steve Snyder’s excellent book about his father and the B-17, Susan Ruth, that he flew in combat during WWII when he was shot down over enemy territory. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book when I picked it up but I was very pleasantly surprised. The author provided a good foundation about the history of his father and the crew of the Susan Ruth without making the reader wade through excruciating and boring details of their lives. Instead, he provided a broad background of his father’s history and the crew with just enough detail to interest you in these men and their mission flying combat over Fortress Europe. The author also does not limit the story to just this one plane and crew, but also includes chapters on what flying combat was like for B-17 crews, how the war was progressing as it related to the daylight precision bombing of Germany, and a broad historical perspective of the war. Then of course, the book finishes with the aircraft being shot down and the stories of the crew after they were either captured and imprisoned or were able to evade capture, and in the case of Steve’s father, join the French underground to fight against the Nazis on a different level. All in all, a very good read.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Required reading for anyone who knows anyone who lived during World War II
My husband and I just finished the book. Could not put it down! I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the history of the war, but obviously, I had no clue.
Daddy was in the Merchant Marines toward the end of the war and spent some time around the Indian Ocean. I got some stories out of him but wish I had dug for more details. Mom told stories of the boys that came home to her little coal town in Wyoming and were damaged beyond repair and about the boys that didn’t come home. They were always just stories – your book really helped me to put it all into perspective.
Reading it was a very humbling experience. It truly was the “greatest generation” – to go through what they did, to come out the other side and then completely rebuild their lives – pretty monumental.
I also appreciated all the technical information. It was all very relatable and nothing so geeky that I got lost in the details. And I can’t get enough of 1940’s photos – priceless!
Thank you for putting down such an interesting, concise and important historical reporting. I’m going to share it with all my family and friends.
Can’t wait for the movie!
Absolutely wonderful book!
Two Thumbs Up! Shot Down is a wonderful true story written by Steve Snyder that needs to or should be made into a movie. After purchasing this book, I had a hard time putting this book down. It has all the ingredients of best selling books and movies. Adventure, romance, detailed emotions, true historical data, and heroism are all portrayed in this book.
A great book that will make you feel like you are in the cockpit with Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth. It gives great detail to how these young men prepared for flight, up in flight, and the dangerous events of being shot down and landing in Belgium. It tells how certain people embraced them on the ground and the events that followed. The risk and danger of what these citizens and crew encounter will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Great read – well written
Shot Down is a captivating story that combines the history of WWll with the personal story of Howard Snyder and his crew. The combination of the great historical documentation and story of Howard Snyder makes the book difficult to put down. Shot Down is personalized from a large number of letters and journals that Howard wrote to his wife Ruth. The story draws you into the drama that takes place over Europe during a bombing mission and then shares the compassion and bravery of the Underground. This is more than just another book about WWII – it’s a must read for everyone!
Anyone interested in World War II history will love this book
Anyone interested in World War II history will love this book. This is the account of his father who was a B-17 pilot and how he was able to avoid capture by the Gestapo. It is not only a story about the Susan Ruth, but also the story of eight airmen and two Belgian resistance fighters who lost their lives hiding downed airmen who were shot down over Europe. There were many people in Europe who assisted these airmen and that is their story of risking everything to help our men get back to England.
I could not put the book down wondering what would happen to Howard Snyder next.
This is a great book, one that can be enjoyed by readers …
Steve’s presentation of his father’s WWII experiences drew me in from the first page. This is a great book, one that can be enjoyed by readers of all generations. My family is passing this one around and we are looking forward to what might be next (movie?). Steve was thorough in his research and did a fantastic job telling the story of his father’s experiences through a lens that helps a reader fall right into the period, getting to know the stories of the men, their sacrifices, their successes and their failures. This book details an incredible journey, the personal journey of Steve’s father and his crewmates. The book highlights what it took to be in the Army Air Corps during WWII, the training to become a pilot and included historic details, interesting facts about the aircraft and the sincerity that comes from the personal artifacts available to assist Steve with his research!
But does an excellent job of covering the times and the very real …
This is a very enjoyable book. loaded with facts and an accurate account of the times and the very real problems experienced by families and the US Air Forces during WWII. The book is about the experiences of the father of the author, but does an excellent job of covering the times and the very real experiences and sacrifices that so many went through. very well written. hard to put down. once you start you find yourself back in the timeframe it talks about and experiencing the hardships they faced. The book was truly a book that the author wrote out of love and respect for his father.
Great book, well written
Great book, well written. Must have if you want to know how live was during WW2 on a B17
Best Book I’ve Read in a Very Long Time!
This book is simply amazing! What a story of courage and perseverance. Beautifully written… I couldn’t put it down!
Author Steve Snyder has captured a moment of WWII history that is personal, well-researched and factually documented.
A maniacal Third Reich dictator’s plan for world domination, was eventually crushed by superior air power by U.S. and allied forces. We owe our freedom and prosperity to the many young men and women who gave their lives to save our future.
As a young boy of ten, in 1945, I witnessed the return of hundreds of wounded tattered U.S. bombers while sitting on the curb at 223 E. Bellvue Ave. in San Mateo California. The sky was dark with a blanket of aircraft, the roar shook the ground, a synchronous rhythm accompanied the incoming wounded machines. These aircraft were representative’s of the mechanical survivors coming home. Looking back at that moment, Howard Snyder’s B-17 G was not one of them.
Gary Mullins, A grateful civilian patriot.
A must read for anyone who likes history and a good story
This book tells a very personal story of a American pilot and his crew, from the early days in training in the U.S., assigned to a base in England, shot down over Belgium, to being safely returned to his family. Through Steve Snyder diligent research, he was able to find servicemen diaries, military accounts, and civilian diaries that were pertinent to Steve’s father wartime experience. What was amazing to me, Steve was able to locate and speak to the German pilot that shot down his father’s plane. He was also able to locate the Belgium people that hid his father at great personal risk. However his father didn’t stay hid, he eventually became part of the Belgium resistance that fought the Germans behind enemy lines.
Once I started reading the book, I found it quite captivating and could not put it down.
… this book is one of the if not the best an most informative books I’ve ever read
I am a WWII bomber buff and this book is one of the if not the best an most informative books I’ve ever read. Steve Snyder done his homework on this one. He tells the story like no other has told it before. its more like a eye witness account of the B17 Bomber groups and rightfully so. It is told through his fathers notes and letters from the war. Yep, His father was the pilot of the B 17 this book was written about. Make sure you have plenty of snacks and beverages at your side when you open this book..Its that hard to put down..
This is one of the best written books I have read. It is spellbinding. It is an absolute must for most Libraries. I collect books, in particular those on WWII and this one is aces. I highly recommend “Shot Down.” If you buy it, you won’t regret it
I’ve wanted to know what my dad’s life might have been like at that time
Although not a military buff, I am the daughter of a B-17 pilot who arrived in England in December 1944 to fly bombing missions over Germany and Europe. I’ve wanted to know what my dad’s life might have been like at that time. Steve Snyder’s book, Shot Down, gave me what I was looking for, a well rounded overview of all aspects of a pilots life on the European side of the WWII.
This is not a book that bogs you down in endless military, mechanical, and aviation terminology that sometimes have made many other books about this era somewhat incomprehensible for a novice to WWII and flying. Instead it weaves a rich tapestry of story threads together bringing in many viewpoints and locations from a new enlistee going from the farm, to training, to England, and up into the flak filled skies of Europe, to the wives and children and parents left behind, to the families “holding their breath” when the MIA telegrams begin arriving telling them their husbands and sons had not returned home from their last mission and are missing in action, to the overview impact that World War II had on families, women, minorities, factories, and society in general. Shot Down sets the entire scene in perspective for the reader.
Snyder meticulously tracks the fate of each and every member of the Susan Ruth crew. The research he did must have been almost overwhelming, yet the book is very readable! He leaves no stone unturned in finding those in Belgium and/or their descendants that helped his father and many crew members of the Susan Ruth try to escape out of Belgium to return to England. The harrowing close calls in the sky and in hiding on the ground keep the reader riveted to the story, yet the interwoven threads of historical content, background, and photos give the reader a ‘breather” between air battles.
The most surprising aspect of the story to me I’d never thought about before, was the amount of courage and the incredible mental battle within the pilots it took to go back up into the smoke filled skies of battle over Germany when you had almost not returned from the previous mission! I was also amazed at the tremendous amount of battle damage a B-17 could take and still manage to straggle home to base without a fighter escort which was a testament to the teamwork of the 10 men on the mission. In closing, Shot Down gave me the best insights I think I’ve read to date of all the interrelated stories woven together in the danger and drama of war in the skies over Nazi Germany. I highly recommend this book!
Most detailed and best written book I have ever read
Without question, Shot Down was the most interesting, most detailed and best written book I have ever read. It is hard for me to imagine the considerable research required by Steve to obtain the information on not just his father’s plane and crew but the many others as well, their flights through heavy flak and enemy fighters attacking them, bailing out of damaged planes into the complete darkness nor knowing what was below them or who might see them. The work of the French Underground was fantasticly written.
This true story is indeed a dramatic memory of all those brave men and could be come an outstanding film.
Rod Bechtel, Sarasota, FL
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I have just finished reading SHOT DOWN and I wanted to tell you how very much I appreciate your writing it. History is important. Thank God for people who are motivated to record it, to preserve it in a meaningful way. You have certainly done that. I especially appreciate the fact that your book seemed to be geared to us lay persons – those of us who are not true military buffs and who know little about the details that went into conducting WWII. You enlightened me on dozens of facts about military operations that I really had never thought about before. You were able to share the horrors of war without it being overwhelming to me. And I could actually hear the sounds you described, and feel a chill when you describe the freezing conditions, and so on. You made your book human.
All this is to say that your book has been a true personal experience which I can relate to. I really enjoyed it – I learned a lot – and I will be sharing this with other people.
This is such a great personal story but also great historically
This is such a great personal story but also great historically. Steve has done a wonderful job and I congratulate him. This is a must read. I agree with some of the other reviews in that it should be made into a movie.
I’d like to add my own which is not going to …
After reading some of the reviews written by literary scholars and history majors, I’d like to add my own which is not going to be as eloquent or precise. All I know for sure is what I like and what I don’t. I like biographies and autobiographies, I like to feel like I’m there at that time period. This book did that for me. I felt like I was there, jumping out of a burning plane at 20,000 feet, hiding from the enemy, not knowing about my fellow comrades. I had to do a lot of flipping back to check on characters mentioned more than once but I didn’t mind. The experience was worth it. (you can’t know the players without a scorecard!) as they say at Padre stadium!
Steve Snyder does a great job telling the story of his father’s experiences flying …,
In Shot Down, Steve Snyder does a great job telling the story of his father’s experiences flying during World War II. I read it after reading Donald Miller’s excellent book, Masters of the Air. I found that Shot Down gave me a better sense for what the flying experience was like for one person, from the time Steve’s father started training at multiple places in the U.S., to getting to England and then flying missions — when those weren’t scrubbed because of the weather. My father-in-law also flew in the Eighth Army Air Force, and reading this book gave me a better sense for what his years during the war (especially in England) were probably like.
I was also fascinated by the description of what it was like in Belgium for the downed flyers there, and was amazed at the number of stories about times they were forced to move from one house to another (or one hiding place to another) and ran into German soldiers. I hadn’t realized the amount of sympathy among some Belgians for the Nazis, which certainly complicated things. All in all, this is a well-told story full of interesting and enlightening anecdotes.
‘Shot Down’, by Steve Snyder, is first and …
‘Shot Down’, by Steve Snyder, is first and foremost a comprehensive account of the commitment and the courage of the men who flew the giant Flying Fortress bombers over the flak and fighter infested skies of Europe during World War II. Their daring and sacrifice was monumental by any standard of measure, and ‘Shot Down’ details the journey made by these regular guys… from their very first days of training, to, what for many, would be their final days at their posts in the iconic B-17’s. But what really makes this book special are the intimate stories of these men, and here is where Mr. Snyder’s book soars. He writes with passion and humanity about their personal struggles. And of course, there is much at stake. Lt. Howard Snyder, whose B-17 was shot down over Belgium, was Steve’s dad. Act II of the book weaves the story of Lt. Snyder’s many months in hiding with updates of the broader war. We meet Belgian citizens, who took in Lt. Snyder and other American flyers and protected them. And make no mistake, their strength and courage was as remarkable as the Americans. This book is rich with humanity and historical context, and Steve Snyder’s passion is deeply felt in each chapter.
I finally had the time to sit down and read your book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I wound up very pleasantly surprised! I was afraid that the focus might be too narrow, but to the contrary you had a nice touch with enough detail in the right places while painting a broader picture with your chapters on flying combat and the background for what was going on in the war and the stories about the other members of your father’s original crew.
I was almost as frustrated as your father must have been waiting to get beyond the first three combat missions in three months time. I still wonder how the the operations officers decided who flew, when they flew, and especially where they flew in the formation. If you ticked someone off did you wind up in purple heart corner?
I am not much of a reader, but found Shot Down such an easy read that I finished it in two days, highly unusual for me. Anyway, it was a really good book. Hope that the sales are going well.
Heartfelt and engaging!
Written with obvious affection, yet candor and humor, Shot Down is a son’s well researched account of his father’s experiences as a pilot in WWII. Shot down in Belgium, Howard Snyder not only survived, but with other men from his B-17, encountered good people while in dangerous situations, the stories of which make fascinating reading. Providing insight into what it was like to fight war from the air, Shot Down also gives the reader a very personal look into the experiences of those who made it through. An engaging read for any audience, Shot Down is a book any WWII buff will thoroughly enjoy.
A harrowing story well told
“Shot Down” by Steve Snyder is the true story of the “Susan Ruth”, a B-17 shot down over Belgium on February 8, 1944. Steve’s Dad, Howard Snyder, was the pilot and on this fateful day, as the burning plane began to fall apart, each crew member suffered a distinctly different fate.
Steve has done a great job of following the footsteps of his Dad beginning with his training to become a pilot, life at Thurleigh through all the harrowing experiences after their plane literally crashed and burned. I anxiously awaited the fate of each airman.
What was especially endearing to me was the love story. Howard and Ruth married shortly before he went to war. Susan Ruth was their baby daughter, and of course there was no other name considered for his new flying fortress than hers. Steve is fortunate to have every letter that his Dad wrote home. I enjoyed reading about all his crew members’ hijinks while Howard was writing to Ruth about how much he missed her and their daughter. He wasn’t interested in anything but her.
“Shot Down” takes us from England to the skies over occupied Europe to the underground resistance in Belgium and in France. These young men were struggling to stay two steps ahead of the Gestapo while the brave citizens of the small villages risked their lives to help them.
Years later, the families of these citizens are still remembering with gratitude the young men who lived and died among them.
Snyder does a great job telling the incredible story of his father and …
Snyder does a great job telling the incredible story of his father and his crew’s contributions to the war effort in Europe. It is amazing how those young men came together from various backgrounds to learn how to fly and confront the enemy. What they did is only part of the story. What also interested me is the background in the book setting the stage as to how people felt and the impact on their families. The research brings life to the book written by a proud son. Great read.
Could not put it down.
Excellent account — A book those interested in World War History should read.
Steve Snyder has written a well-researched account of his father’s ill-fated World War II mission from Thurleigh, England to bomb Frankfurt, Germany on 8 February 1944, and the subsequent efforts it took to evade the enemy and return to American forces. Shot Down is a highly readable volume that is not just the story of Lieutenant Howard Snyder and the crew of the Susan Ruth, but an historical account of that time and place in history when thousands of men and women, both at home and abroad, recognized they had a job to do in defending our nation. Author Snyder has given us a glimpse into the impact of such devotion. Because this book is so personal, the author captured the human element, writing with the compassion and pride only a son can convey. Beyond the personal information, the author includes details that illustrate World War II conditions, facts, and events, augmenting information provided in Howard Snyder’s personal letters and diaries, and interviews conducted by the author.
This mixed biography/history genre is entertaining and educational. Its insightful accounts give us the opportunity to see more clearly the sacrifices made by American airmen and those who sought to protect them. Shot Down should be read by anyone who has a personal connection to the war or anyone who wants to know more about the people who served and supported the Armed Forces.
A must read!
This book is a must read for anyone with an interest in WWII. Basically Steve Snyder places you in the cockpit of a B17 bomber and you begin to understand the tremendous dangers that our soldiers faced during the war. The insight into the lives of the crew of the Susan Ruth was very inspiring as you realize they were all true American heroes. This book was so engrossing that you invest your emotions into what happened to these brave airmen and the Belgians that protected them. Thank you Steve for sharing your fathers amazing story!
This is a very engrossing account of the ” Susan …
This is a very engrossing account of the ” Susan Ruth”. It transports one to that time and era. Thoroughly enjoyable on many levels.
The lessons and sacrifice of WWII should not be forgotten.
With Veteran’s Day around the corner (November 11th) I read your book. It is a great read and helps the all American citizens born after the “Greatest Generation” appreciate the hardships endured by great Airmen like your father. It is hard for us to imagine the sacrifice and anguish felt by families who would learn of their family members dying through a 6 lined telegram.
Books like “Shot Down” remind citizens of the world their country could be taken over by a group who simply want to kill everyone that does not believe in the same religion.
The most personal WWII story I’ve ever read!
A superb story! I like to think that I’ve read quite a few books on WWII since the subject has always fascinated me but SHOT DOWN is different because it is intensely personal. The author does a wonderful job of making me feel like i actually knew the people who lived this. It is a heart-wrenching story or heroism, betrayal, sacrifice, and honor. Even though i could hardly stand to put the book down (I confess I may have taken it to work with me) the part that I will remember is how I felt like I could feel the emotions of the crew.
Detailed Descriptions of military aircraft and crew with a touch of romance
If you love history, detailed descriptions of military aircraft and crew, and war experiences with a touch of romantic inscriptions, this is the book for you. The terrifying account of the Susan Ruth and its crew is described so vividly, it’s as if you are there. Reading “Shot Down” provides an understanding of what our brave men in the military withstand. The pictures and hand written letters by Lt. Howard Snyder were a bonus to this compelling story.
A great historical account for anyone
A great historical account for anyone, not just WWII buffs. More than that, it has a great personal touch being the story is written by Howard Snyder’s son. An amazing story of survival, escape and evasion, and unfortunately atrocity. The story is both unique, but also not in many ways not unique. All in all it is another tribute to the Greatest Generation that just “did what we had to do”. May we never forget. Thanks Steve.
Shot Down is a great book! It tells the story of the men …
Shot Down is a great book! It tells the story of the men who flew with Howard Snyder in the B-17 Susan Ruth during the Second World War.The author did an excellent job of weaving portions of letters, maps and photographs into the novel. I felt that I knew the crew and was constantly impressed by the courage they displayed.. They were all heroes!
Thoroughly Enjoyed “Shot Down.”
The book provides a unique perspective of the lives of World War II airmen and their families that the reader can easily grasp and that demands one’s rapt attention. Documenting the experiences of the B-17 crews provides a revealing commentary on the price of freedom paid by those in military service. The impact on families and the contributions of the underground provide further depth of understanding.
A “must read” for WWII buffs! Shot Down gives the reader detailed insight into the plight of the crew of the Susan Ruth. It also provides extensive information of the B-17 Flights out of England and the hazards they faced. The book provides historical information which I have not found in any other WWII book I have read. Shot Down is a fitting tribute to The Greatest Generation.
This review was written by Bob Smith.
A gift for generations to come!
Shot Down is an excellent account about a pilot, his crew, our country and the world during WWII. The author does a phenomenal job pulling together personal accounts and historical facts. What a gift to have all of this captured in a book (and hopefully a movie one day) for generations to come!
A personal account of a global war
If you are interested in a story of family, perseverance, good will in the face of death, from first hand sources and accounts, about the greatest war of our time, and the greatest generation that fought it, you must read this book.
This isn’t a book just for history or war buffs. The story spans over the life of Howard Snyder, B-17 pilot, friend, husband, father, as he enters the war to battle against tyranny, in a personal account that goes so far as to include excerpts from the love letters he wrote back home to his wife. It’s filled with photos that allow you to relate more closely to the topics and moments discussed, and while it never digresses too far, it fills you in on interesting facts that give more context to the story.
The amount of time Steve dedicated to research was incredible, and it shows. And while it is retelling a personal story, there is hardly any subjectivity, if any. He set out to tell a truthful account of a WWII pilot shot down over Belgium, but as his research continued he couldn’t help begin to include the stories of the other crew members, the Belgian helpers, families at home, and the precedents and aftermath of the war.
I’d highly recommend this book. May we never forget the efforts of the brave men who fought.
A very well researched and authentic account of the author’s …
A very well researched and authentic account of the author’s father’s experiences and exploits as a B17 pilot.
The extreme courage and sacrifice of those bomber crews must never be forgotten and such books as this continue to honour them.
I could not put it down once I picked it …
I could not put it down once I picked it up. Steve obviously did his homework. The story is touching, personal and informative all at the same time. The way he provides the historical context and background for events and the people involved is riveting. There are very few books I can say this about but I will read it again!
Kudos to Steve Snyder for bring this story to America!
We can show our pride in American GI’s!
This is an awesome story and my hats off to Steve and The Crew of the Susan Ruth–Thanks to them we are still free! We have many men to thanks and be proud of this is just a grand story of a few of the Greatest Generation.
Terrific history. Steve Snyder effectively brings hours of research …
Terrific history. Steve Snyder effectively brings hours of research and first hand contact with survivors to present a true story that affected so many people during that time. So much of dedication to freedom and the sacrifices everyday people made during those days has been forgotten or at least diminished. It was inspirational to hear see for ourselves the challenges overcome by the courageous crews and the civilians on the ground who protected them risking death themselves. Only a person with Steve’s perspective through his relationship with his courageous parents and his encounters with survivors could bring this story to life. Great job, Steve. Definitely should be made into a movie with your screenplay.
Outstanding factual account
Outstanding factual account of what it was like to train, fly in combat and then be shot down over Europe in World War II. My father flew in World War II over France as a bomber pilot. The author’s description of his father’s training, deployment and experiences as a bomber pilot opened my eyes to the real experience these young men went through. You wonder throughout the book, “Could I have done that?” The courage of everyone involved, the men, wives and family is truly amazaing. It’s no wonder their called, “The Greatest Generation.”
great read…personal touch, and highly informative.
Appeals to a wide 21st century audience – including women and young adults
As a former middle school teacher, I want to commend Steve Snyder for writing a compelling WWII book that can appeal to a wide audience of 21st century readers: including women and young adults. To me, Snyder wrote each chapter of the book with a novice WWII reader, like me, in mind. Each of the 40 chapters is clear and succinct – complete with explanations, interesting photos, helpful diagrams, and letter excerpts. I knew I would like the human interest aspects of the story. Unexpectedly, I found myself drawn into the description of the B-17 and the duties of the crew members. As an example of the teachable aspects of the story to young adults, “Shot Down” reveals that letters and telegrams were the mode of communication in WWII.
Ultimately, this is a book intended to help a 21st century reader better understand and appreciate the experiences and sacrifices of “The Greatest Generation”. Snyder succeeds in his motive for writing the book: “It is our duty to remember – never forget.”
Shot Down is the true story of a man and …
Shot Down is the true story of a man and his suspenseful and extremely dangerous experiences. But, it is also a story about families at home in the USA and families in the Resistance in Belgium. I just can’t imagine the feelings of Howard’s family during his 7 months of being “Missing”. Nor can I imagine the heroic risks that so many Belgium families took to hide and protect our airmen.
The book provides a vivid description of all of the people involved, from Howard and his flying companions, to family, to protectors, and even to the German pilot who shot down the Susan Ruth.
Steve Snyder’s research is thorough. He is a true historian on World War II. He also has that unique talent to be able to write a story where the reader knows about the ending, but can’t stop reading the book because it is so suspenseful and interesting.
Read This Book!
I found the this book is outrageously great on several levels. The author has masterfully crafted an integration of well researched facts and beautifully written descriptions of events, so compelling that I truly could not put it down. I was deeply touched by the incredible courage of the young crew and amazing efforts of the Belgian underground. The facts, as told by crew members and villagers, then substantiated by both 8th
Air Force and Luftwaffe official records, creates a account of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. All in the face of Nazism. It is a life affirming story everyone should read. I encourage you to get your own copy. This book will be in my library forever in the area reserved for “not to be loaned”.
A Truly Inspirational Tribute
The prodigious amount of research and the meticulous attention to detail in Shot Down shines brilliantly throughout Steve Snyder’s inspirational tribute to his father, Howard Snyder, to all the courageous U.S. pilots and crews, and to the heroes from the French Resistance and local Belgium population during WWII.
Chapters 25 through 28 are exceptionally riveting, as they vividly recreate the events and the raw emotions the crew of the Susan Ruth was experiencing as the Susan Ruth was being shot down.
On a personal note, my late father was a decorated Air Force officer of both WWII and the Korean Conflict. My late father-in-law was a decorated naval ship captain during WWII as well. Like Howard Snyder, they were members of “The Greatest Generation”. Undoubtedly, they would have especially appreciated reading this memorable work.
I thank and commend Steve Snyder for a job extraordinarily well done.
Some feelings aroused by the reading of the first pages of Steve’s book
Jacques (local Belgian historian)
When I was told you were writing a book about your Dad, I didn’t imagine such a work. Sincerely I expected you to focus just on the odyssey of Howard and crew.
On the contrary, you very intelligibly fitted the story of the S.R. into a larger historical scope mentioning the main landmarks that ran along the thread of the 20th century. Doing so, your book isn’t a casual account of an awful case of war but it becomes an important chapter of the WWII History.
I have heard about the SR. many times but years ago the members of the crew were impersonal characters, just names stuck in the layout of a sad story. Year after year Paul Delahaye told me more and more especially about your Dad but my knowledge of him was still slim. Before I met you, many points about Howard were still in the dark.
Reading your book the story has changed. The members of the crew were no longer anonymous people. They became close acquaintances, people with a human background and the odyssey of the crew of the S.R. borrowed a much larger scope.
What they endured many American flyers had to endure it too but when you have in mind that people who are going through such a ply are well known people to you, you read the story differently. It seems that is the story of good close friends who are going through a bad spell. You read the book with quite a different view.
This book is much more than the typical World War II history, usually written about the battles themselves, however epic they may have been. No, this book tells a very personal story of a young American pilot and his crew, from there early days in training in the U.S., to being assigned to a base in England, to eventually being shot down over Belguim. This is a personal account, filled with suspense and emotion, but all true, due to Steve Snyder having access to so much material from his father’s wartime experience. Some of the most suspenseful parts are not necessarily the shooting down of his plane, but the life he lived in hiding in Belguim, surrounded by the Nazi’s, with danger and risk of capture almost daily. And there are many heartwarming stories of the Belguim sympathizers who took him and the other crew members in, at great personal risk.
This is a story about an epic war, that is rapidly being forgotten by the younger generations, and the unbelievable sacrifices that were made by not only the soldiers themselves, but also their families, and the rest of the country as well.
This book is very well written, and most people will want to read straight through it…..it is that captivating.
It’s really well done, a good mixture of his father’s story and lots of facts, I like it very much.
It’s also recommended to everyone who is new to the matter because of the good descriptions and explanations (planes, training, missions, and so on), also well suited for pupils. Since the book is easily understandable and gives a good insight it should be a “must read” in school.
Although my native language being german I was able to read the book fluently, there were only few expressions a had to look up in a dictionary.
The second half of the book is more difficult to read than the first because of the vast amount of peoples’ names and locations that needed to be mentioned. There are some misspellings in german names, especially those of cities, and some small errors, but nothing really bad. And yes, the author is reachable and one may contact him easily.
It really got me thinking about
my own father who was a combat medic in WWII …
This book contains extraordinary detail and the author does a wonderful job of helping those of us who have never …
I wish I had spent more time talking to him … am doubtful I will come close to uncovering as much information has you were able to uncover.
Anyway, great job. I can tell you are rightfully proud of your father and mother’s gallant efforts and extreme sacrifice. God bless them, and all the others who were willing to put there lives on the line to halt the evil that was taking place. This book should be required reading for all students. I fear that time is dimming a light that must never be extinguished.
What a fabulous account of the crew of the Susan Ruth. This book contains extraordinary detail and the author does a wonderful job of helping those of us who have never been required to make such extreme sacrifices, understand why we should never forget the efforts of these American heroes.
Fantastic, the whole package, what a read! Not only is there a riveting story line of the individuals of the Susan Ruth crew, with intermingling threads of history and statistics, but there are links to web pages, U-tube interviews and news articles. So you also see where all the research and documentation came from and you can dig more for yourself. There are hours of education and entertainment like all the extras you get when you buy a DVD. Well done! I would love to tell the parts that were a big surprise and very gratifying to find out, but that would ruin it for the readers. Just buy the book and find out the jewels for yourself. A must read for WW II buffs and vets of all ages. The lessons and emotions of war are all there from several different perspectives.
A Moving Story of Wartime Courage
As a military historian specialising in the US 8th Army Air Force in England in World War Two, I read many biographical books either for broadening my knowledge, or to see how a fellow author tackles the subject. ‘Shot Down’ by Steve Snyder stands tall among many. His book, admirably illustrated, focusses on his late father, Howard, who was a B-17 pilot flying daylight missions over Nazi-occupied Europe in 1943-44. Lt Snyder was shot down over Belgium, and was assisted in evading capture by ordinary Belgian citizens doing extraordinary things – sheltering Allied airmen from the Germans, at peril of death if discovered. This book is the stuff of legends, made even more noteworthy by the fact it is all true. Steve Snyder’s research into what happened to the rest of the crew of B-17 ‘Susan Ruth’ is detailed and measured, and one aspect I found particularly compelling is how the backdrop of what was happening in World War terms is woven into the narrative, as sometimes authors can take broader knowledge amongst the readership for granted. This book is backed by an excellent website, and the fact the author is approachable – via facebook, his website and e-mail – is also refreshing. An important book all-round for both general and specialised reader, and a welcome addition to my bookshelf – Paul Allonby.
I have only read about 120 pages so far and honestly have to say that this is by far one of the best written and researched book
I just received ‘Shot Down” in the mail yesterday and I can not put it down! My vacation is not for another week but I may have to call in sick for this week as I do not want to stop reading this book. I have only read about 120 pages so far and honestly have to say that this is by far one of the best written and researched books on the subject of WWII that I have read, and I must say that I have quite an extensive library!
Am enjoying your book about Howard. His slow motion recollection of the terror at 20,000 feet before bailing out is riveting. His attention to detail at that moment is familiar. Look forward to the rest of your well detailed documentation of your father’s heroism. They were such a young and brave group. Today everyone is a volunteer without the support of many Americans. What is the subject of your next book? – Richard A. Bauroth
LOVE your book! I must admit, I don’t read all that much. The story REALLY has to hook me early, in order for me to read the whole book. . YOUR BOOK DID JUST THAT! I am already at Chapter 16, and I HAD to put it down to go to work!! AMAZING! With each turn of the page, I see myself there next to your dad….Can’t wait to get home and read some more!!! Thank you!!!!
And then …
JUST finished your book in record time (for me) I couldn’t put it down. Best part was, as I was reading Susan Ruth’s last and fateful mission, the park district behind my house had several of their large riding mowers out mowing the lawn, sounding like the fleet of Flying fortresses engaged in the battle I was reading! I saw myself in the barracks, I saw myself next to the crew of the Susan Ruth. I felt the emotional attachment to leaving a sweetheart behind (I myself am a Veteran).
Your book was amazing, and had my attention from the start. Great work! So proud of the men and women of the GREATEST GENERATION! – Todd Baran
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