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Tailspin

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World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe. When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of t World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe. When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of their dad's war story. But when John, a young history teacher, learns of Gene's amazing fall, he's desperate to learn more. Finally, Gene agrees. So begins a series of Thursdays with Gene interviews. Gene, nearing his ninetieth birthday, recounts incredible tales. But John has no idea what wounds he's reopening. Gene's nightmares and grief return. But both men persevere, bonded by their close and growing friendship. As the interviews go on, John faces an ordeal of his own. His wife is fighting brain cancer. What will happen to his wife and his two young children? John must continue uncovering Gene's story of survival as he himself confronts the greatest trial of his life. Tailspin is more than a war story. It's a story of two men's separate journeys confronting trauma and loss. It's a story of resilience and hope.


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World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe. When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of t World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe. When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of their dad's war story. But when John, a young history teacher, learns of Gene's amazing fall, he's desperate to learn more. Finally, Gene agrees. So begins a series of Thursdays with Gene interviews. Gene, nearing his ninetieth birthday, recounts incredible tales. But John has no idea what wounds he's reopening. Gene's nightmares and grief return. But both men persevere, bonded by their close and growing friendship. As the interviews go on, John faces an ordeal of his own. His wife is fighting brain cancer. What will happen to his wife and his two young children? John must continue uncovering Gene's story of survival as he himself confronts the greatest trial of his life. Tailspin is more than a war story. It's a story of two men's separate journeys confronting trauma and loss. It's a story of resilience and hope.

30 review for Tailspin

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I got to read this early and was floored by how beautiful, wise, and evocative it was. The world of Germany in the depths of WWII is brought fully to life, as is the delicate relationship between the author and Gene Moran, the subject of the book. Prepare to feel some big, big things. And the ending...couldn't have been better. Highly recommended. I got to read this early and was floored by how beautiful, wise, and evocative it was. The world of Germany in the depths of WWII is brought fully to life, as is the delicate relationship between the author and Gene Moran, the subject of the book. Prepare to feel some big, big things. And the ending...couldn't have been better. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia Cox

    This is a fantastic book! It’s a great story filled with a range of emotions and I could barely put it down! If you have any interest in World War II stories or are just looking for a new book to read, I 100% recommend “Tailspin”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wisconsin Alumni

    World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe. John Armbruster John Armbruster ’89, ’93 Author From the author: When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of their dad’s war story. But when John, a young history teacher, l World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe. John Armbruster John Armbruster ’89, ’93 Author From the author: When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of their dad’s war story. But when John, a young history teacher, learns of Gene’s amazing fall, he’s desperate to learn more. Finally, Gene agrees. So begins a series of “Thursdays with Gene” interviews. Gene, nearing his ninetieth birthday, recounts incredible tales. But John has no idea what wounds he’s reopening. Gene’s nightmares and grief return. As the interviews go on, John faces an ordeal of his own. His wife is fighting brain cancer. What will happen to his wife and his two young children? John must continue uncovering Gene’s story of survival as he himself confronts the greatest trial of his life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Louise Gray

    It’s so important that such personal histories as this be recorded and this is an unusual way of presenting such an account, weaving in a secondary story at the same time. The second layer takes this book beyond a social history to be a genuinely moving account of challenge and grief and how we come to terms with both.

  5. 4 out of 5

    seb reads

    This is a remarkable WW2 survival story. I learned lots of things about the men who fought the war. This story follows Eugene "Gene" Moran, a farmer boy who wants to enlist in the US Army and fight Germans in the second World War. He becomes a tail gunner in a "Flying Fortress" bomber plane. Shot down, he miraculously survives his fall, and then begins a very long adventure for Gene as a POW. Gene's tale is very gripping, and John Armbruster, who was just a history teacher, did a very good job tell This is a remarkable WW2 survival story. I learned lots of things about the men who fought the war. This story follows Eugene "Gene" Moran, a farmer boy who wants to enlist in the US Army and fight Germans in the second World War. He becomes a tail gunner in a "Flying Fortress" bomber plane. Shot down, he miraculously survives his fall, and then begins a very long adventure for Gene as a POW. Gene's tale is very gripping, and John Armbruster, who was just a history teacher, did a very good job telling this tale. History was not among my favorite classes in school, but I always was interested in learning stuff about the war. This book is not only about Gene's story. It's also about the author's own battle, his wife's cancer. A very emotional story, one that really got to me too.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristin L.

    An amazing book and beautiful read. The author pens word to a page, as an artist brushes colors to canvas. Each page turn, leaves you wanting more. The author tells the story of Gene, a WW2 veteran, who fell 4 miles to the ground in the tail section of his B-17. The story is written in a unique style of past and present unlike any other book of it's genre. It is two stories woven into one. Gene and the author form a bond during their ongoing interviews as Gene gives up pieces of his story that h An amazing book and beautiful read. The author pens word to a page, as an artist brushes colors to canvas. Each page turn, leaves you wanting more. The author tells the story of Gene, a WW2 veteran, who fell 4 miles to the ground in the tail section of his B-17. The story is written in a unique style of past and present unlike any other book of it's genre. It is two stories woven into one. Gene and the author form a bond during their ongoing interviews as Gene gives up pieces of his story that he's held secret for decades. The author, himself, dealing with his wife's courageous battle with cancer. The book encompasses tenderness of the human spirit, a raw look at war and POW experiences, and the survival of two men who overcame their own personal life struggles. A must read !!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pam Parker

    Tailspin is an amazing true story of Gene Moran, a tail gunner in WWII from rural Wisconsin. He fell 4 miles from the sky and despite the odds, lived. After years of refusing to share his story, high school history teacher, John Armbruster gains Gene's trust & they hold a series of interviews. During the process, John faces a crisis -- his wife's cancer has returned. John and Gene's experiences are deftly woven, without ever losing the focus on Gene. Highly recommend!!! You'll learn so much about Tailspin is an amazing true story of Gene Moran, a tail gunner in WWII from rural Wisconsin. He fell 4 miles from the sky and despite the odds, lived. After years of refusing to share his story, high school history teacher, John Armbruster gains Gene's trust & they hold a series of interviews. During the process, John faces a crisis -- his wife's cancer has returned. John and Gene's experiences are deftly woven, without ever losing the focus on Gene. Highly recommend!!! You'll learn so much about the WWII era & a POW experience. Great writing, great story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Murray

    The biography of Sgt. Gene Moran, who grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, and was a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress during WWII. He and fellow crew members are shot down near Bremen, Germany and he survived a 24,00 foot fall and ended up in two different POW camps. Interspersed with Gene's story is the author's own story of trying to tell Gene's remarkable tale of survival and while his own wife is struggling with breast cancer. Armbruster also looks at Gene's struggle with his PTSD and alc The biography of Sgt. Gene Moran, who grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, and was a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress during WWII. He and fellow crew members are shot down near Bremen, Germany and he survived a 24,00 foot fall and ended up in two different POW camps. Interspersed with Gene's story is the author's own story of trying to tell Gene's remarkable tale of survival and while his own wife is struggling with breast cancer. Armbruster also looks at Gene's struggle with his PTSD and alcoholism after returning home. A must read for WWII history buffs.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is the heroic true story of a WWII veteran, Gene , from small town Wisconsin who survived a plane crash and was a POW. The author, a school teacher from Wisconsin, has done a beautiful job of intertwining his own personal journey with the details of Gene's incredible story. It is more than just a book about the war. It's a story of relationships within the family you are born with, and the family you make with those who help you survive life's upheavals. I really enjoyed reading it. This is the heroic true story of a WWII veteran, Gene , from small town Wisconsin who survived a plane crash and was a POW. The author, a school teacher from Wisconsin, has done a beautiful job of intertwining his own personal journey with the details of Gene's incredible story. It is more than just a book about the war. It's a story of relationships within the family you are born with, and the family you make with those who help you survive life's upheavals. I really enjoyed reading it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A perfect example of the power of the creative non-fiction approach: in pairing the author's story of his beloved wife's battle against cancer with the battle of Gene Moran to survive combat, one of the most famous and spectacular crashes in 8th Air Force history, captivity, and the ghosts of all three this book reminds us of the power of the past to overlap the present. The result is a spectacular read-- and two great stories told impeccably well. A perfect example of the power of the creative non-fiction approach: in pairing the author's story of his beloved wife's battle against cancer with the battle of Gene Moran to survive combat, one of the most famous and spectacular crashes in 8th Air Force history, captivity, and the ghosts of all three this book reminds us of the power of the past to overlap the present. The result is a spectacular read-- and two great stories told impeccably well.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Can't put the book down This is a remarkable read intertwining the lives of the air man and the author. I could not put the book down once I began reading. It took me on a roller coaster of emotions. Definitely a good book! Can't put the book down This is a remarkable read intertwining the lives of the air man and the author. I could not put the book down once I began reading. It took me on a roller coaster of emotions. Definitely a good book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Not at all what you'd expect from a WWII book. This author is a great writer, weaving together Gene's (often horrible) memories into a book you don't want to put down. I enjoyed how he shared how the book came together because that is actually a big part of the story too. So glad I stumbled across this gem and learned of Gene's remarkable survival story, during and after WWII. Not at all what you'd expect from a WWII book. This author is a great writer, weaving together Gene's (often horrible) memories into a book you don't want to put down. I enjoyed how he shared how the book came together because that is actually a big part of the story too. So glad I stumbled across this gem and learned of Gene's remarkable survival story, during and after WWII.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Helene

    Powerfully emotional read. I would be crying one minute and laughing the next. I feel fortunate to have been able to “hear” Gene’s story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna Bell

    Fantastic book! Well written story about a WWII story that took years to tell. The struggle to tell the story and of the authors own struggle to write the story.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Murphy

    An amazing story about an amazing man!! So well written! A MUST READ!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Adams

    An amazing and well written story! I am honored to have known Gene, and his story was absolutely amazing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christy Martin

    Tailspin by John Armbruster is the incredible story of Gene Moran. This book is unique in that in telling Moran's story he also is living and telling the story of one of his life's darkest moments as well as interviewing and gathering data for Moran's story. Armbruster's wife is dying from cancer while he is learning of Moran's history. The story of Moran's journey from a dairy farm in Wisconsin to the last flight of the "Riki Tikki Tavi", his horrific capture and imprisonment, and finally his d Tailspin by John Armbruster is the incredible story of Gene Moran. This book is unique in that in telling Moran's story he also is living and telling the story of one of his life's darkest moments as well as interviewing and gathering data for Moran's story. Armbruster's wife is dying from cancer while he is learning of Moran's history. The story of Moran's journey from a dairy farm in Wisconsin to the last flight of the "Riki Tikki Tavi", his horrific capture and imprisonment, and finally his difficulties adjusting to normalcy upon his return is one you won't want to miss..It is a very real chronicle of the struggles of a man who sacrificed a great deal for his country and struggled on his journey back to the realities of life in America. His memory of life as a young man coming of age in our country's most challenging time, his training to be a tail gunner, his flight experiences, and his time as a P.O.W. are well told, well researched, and reveal a personal part of the history of America's triumphs and tragedies in the struggle to free Europe from Hitler's heavy hand. Thankfully Gene Moran was able to rise from the tragedies of his World War II experience and Armbruster was able to do so as well. Both stories are intertwined and the journey to telling the story is part of the story itself. Thanks to #NetGalley#Talspin for the opportunity to read and review this outstanding book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  19. 4 out of 5

    PATRICK MORAN

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Hammell

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dana McCauley

  23. 5 out of 5

    lea knaub

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kasie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pete

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Schulz

  28. 4 out of 5

    robert t goad

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie Koestler

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lanie Rudie

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