It’s taken about six months, but finally the saga of my Uncle Herbert Hopp’s World War 2 heroism and suffering is finished, all 85,000 words of it. Whew! With the movie Unbroken set to hit the screen on Christmas Day, I guess it’s entirely appropriate that the tale of another hero in the same war should be ready to hit the presses–well, almost.
Next up for my manuscript is the review and revision process, and I’ve already engaged two proof readers and gotten them on the task. After they’ve had their say, I’ll begin a potentially long quest to find a home for Herb at a major publishing house. That’s a procedure of many steps.
First comes the search for an agent who can get a hearing for Herb in the hallowed halls of the book publishing establishment. Then come contract negotiations. Then, no doubt, a substantial revision to suit the requirements of an editorial staff. And then the long time needed for setup and production of the actual book. Only then will The Fallen Eagle —as I have tentatively titled the work— make its appearance on bookshelves.
The whole rigamarole might eat up to two years in eclipse before Herb’s story finally finds the full light of day.
But it’ll be worth the wait. Herb’s is a tale of the forgotten wounded warrior. Compared to Louis Zamperini of Unbroken fame, Herb is a very similar type. He was a tough kid, and it was no doubt that toughness that enabled him to survive where others perished. Ultimately, I believe that if Zamperini’s story deserved the attention it got, then so does Herb’s. Time will tell. And in good time, I can even imagine a day when The Fallen Eagle could become a comparable Hollywood film like Unbroken. Everything that made Zamperini’s story compelling is found in Herb’s story, and maybe even a little more.
Here’s a little teaser, the Foreword I wrote for this book:
Stories of the Second World War have not delved deeply enough into the hardest truth of the conflict. That truth can’t be seen in histories of the broad sweep of armies and navies across the globe. It can’t be felt in portrayals of the awesome effects of the weapons of war. But it shows up starkly on the faces of men, scarcely old enough to grow a beard, who give their blood and their lives in a commitment to save our world from hatred and tyranny. This story is an account of my Uncle Herbert Albert Hopp’s struggles, his audacious exploits, and the horrific personal consequences the closing days of the Guadalcanal Campaign wrought on him and his torpedo-bomber crewmates. This is the true story of Naval aviators who played their parts in the epic contest of nations in the South Pacific in 1943.
I applaud those books and films that have portrayed this conflict before. But here you will find the deepest and bitterest truths about what it was like for the brave young men who lived or died in the Solomon Islands. I have interviewed family members who knew Herb better and longer than I. I have researched every possible military record, including Herb’s own long and gruesomely detailed medical records. If I have done my job as a writer well then you will see what it really means for heroes to go and fight and bleed and die to protect the ones they love. God bless them all.
“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
“Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.”
—From “America The Beautiful,” written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1913, the year Herbert Hopp was born.