My book, Joey Jacobson’s War, was published in January 2018. I have set Joey’s account in the context of the early war years in Canada and England, and of Bomber Command’s operations at that time, based on my research in Canada, Britain, and the Netherlands. My book is at once biography, social history, and military history. Nearly 10,000 Canadians died serving in Bomber Command. Joey Jacobson’s story is also their story. He did not survive to write a war memoir, but his personal account, written in the moment, brings Canada’s war-time experience to life.
My current project is a new book about William Henry Nelson, DFC. Like many young Canadians in the 1930s, William Henry Nelson wanted to fly. Unlike all but a few, he fulfilled his ambition beyond imagining, becoming a decorated Royal Air Force bomber pilot early in the Second World War, then becoming an ace fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain. Nelson was a first-generation Canadian Jew, the son of poor immigrants from Russia and Romania, whose family name was originally Katznelson. Unable to afford a university education, he went to work in Montreal’s aircraft industry, but in 1936, at the age of nineteen, he left a humdrum life on the ground to go to England, intent on becoming a pilot in the Royal Air Force.