A Killer of Lions by Stan Weisleder begins when Buddy decides to follow his dreams to become an Army Air Force pilot during the segregated United States era during WWII. To do this he had to face his parents, racial stereotyping, and discrimination due to the color of his skin, the Army, and flight school in the South. But that was the easy part. He also had to learn to control his own temper. He finally arrived in Tunisia, where he was disappointed to find even more stereotyping as no real missions were being assigned to him or any of the other black pilots. Buddy finally makes it to the War in Europe when he was assigned in Italy and central Europe as part of the 332nd Fighter Group, all black pilots, four in total. Buddy had won the war at home and now was going to begin fighting the second big War.
I am going to get it out of the way—I loved this book! First of all, I picked it because I am a WWII nerd, but have very little information on all the racial issues within the U.S. Army during WWII, as I was not born and raised in the U.S. Learning about it was super interesting to me as my parents (who grew up in Italy during WWII), always said that the biggest surprise about the “Americans” to them was the diversity of soldiers’ marching formations.
Second, Weisleder’s writing style is awesome. The dialogue was genuine, the descriptions painted pictures in my mind, and the storyline kept me glued to the pages. It was fast-paced, entertaining and easy to read. So, what else is there?
Finally, there is the historical relevance of A Killer of Lions as it presents readers a moment in time where a group of black young men not only won their personal wars against discrimination to live their dreams, but went on to fight for their nation. A Killer of Lions by Stan Weisleder is definitely an entertaining, fast read for everyone as it provides a great message for our times.