L. Langford Hodges captures the imagination of World War II history buffs, military strategists, and patriotic citizens as he relates the realities of war, the turbulent years of uncertainty and terror, the camaraderie of the young serviceman, and their heroism in his book The Way it Was.
Hodges draws from his experiences in Corsica during WWII to relate John’s story. John, after graduating from high school, enlists in the Army Air Force in 1943 during World War II. He is trained as a fighter pilot and assigned to duty in Italy.
While on a mission John is shot down, bails out, and is helped by partisans to get back to his base to recover from his injuries and the trauma of his tortuous ordeal. After D-Day and the German surrender John returns home on an extended leave.
John enjoys the time of transition as he reacquaints himself with his friends and family by enjoying the hunting and fishing opportunities afforded in the Georgia area near his home. A few months later he is discharged from the Air Force. He goes on to graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in Engineering.
Many readers distracted by Hodges’ lack of conformance to standard grammar rules and elements of writing will miss the great storyline, unforgettable characters, and amazing surprise ending of his story.
Hodges writing style is inconsistent; I had difficulty as to the true identity of the protagonist. I felt unclear as to whether the book was a biography of an acquaintance (John) or Hodges’ own personal autobiographical memoirs.
In The Way it Was, author L. Langford Hodges’ writing is as informal as a conversation among two or three veterans spinning yarns, while reminiscing, in small town America. Hodges is from an almost forgotten generation of heroes, and he needs to be heard.