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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Letters Lost then Found by Amy L. Johnson is not just a book that explores the exchange of letters between two brothers during WWII, but is a revealing witness to what it was like to fly a supply and fighter aircraft. The book begins with the following words: “You are about to eavesdrop on conversations between two brothers, ages 19 and 30, during World War II. Prepare to journey within their family life and experience their frustration, happiness, and sadness. These two brothers have a story to tell.” Written in an epistolary style that is as arresting as it is interesting, the book is an unalloyed, unmitigated capturing of intimate conversations between brothers, sometimes punctuated with short notes and commentaries, poems and prayers, and images associated with the experience of war.
The book features letters between the author’s grandfather, William (Willie) Raubinger, and his younger brother, Fred (Buzz Boy Pete) Raubinger from the time Fred left home as a WWII pilot for supply and fighter aircraft. These conversations took place between 1942 and 1945 and capture the atmosphere of the war and explore themes of family, love, and patriotism. Letters Lost then Found allows readers to read these letters as they were written, with the calligraphy intact. Readers who still know what it was like to cultivate penmanship will feel a strong nostalgia as they read through these letters — the beauty of words written out on paper by hand, an art that has been replaced by digital gadgets, is evident in these pages. You’ll read their prayers, their poems, and their fears and aspirations. It’s a work of great art, intimate and very revealing of what WWII was like, of what the China/Burma/India theatre of war was all about, of the sentiments of those who were at war, and also of the thoughts of those left behind. Letters Lost then Found is simply heartfelt and Amy L. Johnson has done a wonderful job in assembling these letters to bear witness to history and allow readers insights into the war.