The Lucky Seven


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One of the best World War II books ever! You won't want to miss this one!

Suit up and strap in for an incredible ride and harrowing close calls when a heavy bomber is mortally wounded and the crew bails out over occupied Belgium in this World War II stunner. Exciting and absorbing, The Lucky Seven is a remarkable story of courage, sacrifice, and heroism. It’s one of the best World War II stories I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a ton.

Grounded in “true wartime events,” The Lucky Seven is the story of First Lieutenant James J. Goebel, Jr. and the brave men and women of the Belgian and French Resistance. Much of the book covers Goebel’s evade and escape experiences after Goebel and his crewmen parachute out of their wounded B-24 over occupied Belgium.


Flying into the teeth of heavy German flak in 1944, the “Ruthless Ruth” B-24 Liberator is hit. With oxygen and all electrical equipment out of commission and a fire on board, the crew has no choice but to bail out of their mortally wounded aircraft. What follows is an incredible tale of evasion, escape, and survival.


When "the lucky seven" finally arrive on foot in Switzerland by walking out of German-occupied Western Europe, they unknowingly become members of the “Blister Club.” Their escape would not have been possible without the support and sacrifice of members of the Belgian and French resistance. This includes a family who risks everything for three young American men. A church that sheltered over a hundred Allied airmen as their final trip into France and Switzerland is coordinated. Hiding in a shed, barns, private homes, farmhouses, and an abandoned theater. A monastery. Much more.

For example, one harrowing experience – there are many – is described in which the Allied airmen, having just crossed the Belgian/French border into France, board a bus. The bus driver stops in front of a German prison to avoid American daytime bombing. German soldiers run around the parked bus as the bombers complete their mission. The Allied airmen are inside the parked bus, sweating bullets. Talk about a nail-biter!


Meanwhile, news from the home front is included as the action shifts back to Brooklyn, New York and the Goebel family home. A May 1944 Western Union telegram is received informing the Goebels that their son James has been reported Missing In Action. It’s enough to wring tears from a turnip.

Compelling and expertly crafted, The Lucky Seven is so well told that after a while, it doesn’t seem like you’re reading. You're suddenly deep behind enemy lines in German-occupied Western Europe with a You Are There feeling. You join the downed Allied airmen in an epic race toward safety as they try to stay one step ahead of the Germans in a desperate and daring escape fraught with peril.

The latter includes not only evading German patrols bent on capturing Allied prisoners, but also dodging German sympathizers and Nazi collaborators. It’s hair-raising. Utterly absorbing. And totally amazing. So are the acts of quiet courage and determined defiance by members of the Belgian and French resistance toward their Nazi occupiers.


Detailed and meticulously researched, The Lucky Seven weighs in at just under four hundred pages. But it doesn’t feel like it. The action skims along briskly. It’ll have readers on the edge of their seats as they follow Jim Goebel and the “lucky seven” through Belgium and France en route to Switzerland and eventual repatriation in London.


It’s a little Twelve O’clock High. A little The Scarlet and the Black. A little Defiance. A bit The Longest Day. Chapters includes dates, times, and locations, so readers can easily track and keep up with the action and events as they unfold. It also includes photos, sketches, cartoons, maps, and other pertinent images.


Supplemental Information on the “flying Mack truck” B-24 Liberator Bomber and the 445th Bomb Group and additional related information is included. Fascinating!

On a personal note, World War II is an area of special interest. (My dad was a WWII veteran. He flew B-17s in the European Theater.) I’ve read boatloads of books on the era. The Lucky Seven is one of the best I’ve ever read. I was blown away!


Finally, this is a story that needs to be told. It’s a story that needs to be heard. Inspiring, illuminating, and absorbing, it’ll take your breath away. You’ll want to stand up and cheer by the end of this book! Don’t miss it!

Reviewed by

Lifelong bibliophile. Library Board Member. Select book reviews featured on my blog and Goodreads, etc. I'm a frank but fair reviewer, averaging 400+ books/year in a Wide Variety of genres on multiple platforms. Over 1,000 published reviews.


About the author

Norman W. Holden brings his passion for history, leadership, and personal growth to all of his work. Artfully tapping into his own life experiences, he shares the retelling of very different and impactful personal stories. view profile

Published on June 01, 2023

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: History

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