It's June 1941, and World War II is raging in Europe.
Dan Lukens, former UCLA football star, is now a top fighter pilot for the US Army Air Corps in Hawaii. During a scrimmage game on the beach, he meets flight instructor Libby Conners. When she nearly drowns him in the ocean after he hits her with a football, Dan decides Libby’s the girl of his dreams.
Libby Conners is an anomaly in 1941. She is a female pilot, she wears baggy coveralls and denim caps, and she’s a lousy cook. Libby left her home in California, where women pilots were frowned upon, to work as a flight instructor at John Rogers Airport in Hawaii; A place where she must work three times as hard as her male counterparts to earn respect.
After their first catastrophic meeting, Dan doggedly pursues Libby—even signing up for flying lessons to get close to her—and Libby finds herself falling for the handsome pilot. As their romance blossoms, Dan asks Libby to consider marriage, but before she has the chance, Dan and his entire crew are shipped to Clark Field in the Philippines.
Libby is giving a flight lesson on December 7th, 1941, when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. She watches the beginnings of the attack from her Piper Cub, high above the helpless ships. Little does she know this is just the beginning of heartbreak and loss that will come to her in the ensuing months.
The following day, the Japanese attack Dan’s base in the Philippines. Caught off guard, the pilots are unable to rally in time and the massive air power assembled by the US is destroyed. Eventually, the islands are overrun and Dan is taken prisoner and forced to endure a torturous death march through the Philippine jungle.
Both Libby and Dan end up fighting the war in ways they'd never dreamed. Libby joins the WAFS (Women’s Air Ferrying Squadron) delivering planes all over the country for the US military. She grieves daily, as news of death and destruction fills the news. But if Dan was dead, wouldn’t she know it? Why does hope still burn in her heart?
Dan watches friends and foes die on every side, and fights to survive some of the most brutal conditions of the war. His only goal is to make it back to Libby; a goal his nemesis, a Japanese officer, is determined to thwart. But Dan’s enemies have underestimated the strength of his resolve, and the power of the God who guards him on the battlefield.
As with her previous novels, Tricia Goyer has done a wonderful job of bringing to life an often overlooked aspect of World War II.
Each chapter within Dawn of a Thousand Nights begins with an actual newspaper clipping from this period in history, which goes a long way to draw the reader in. Numerous smaller, but important, historical details used effectively throughout each chapter further pull the reader into the war years of 1941-1945. A well-told story. This book is recommended.
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