Numerous American authors have penned novels set during World War II, but few have chosen to tell their tale from a German viewpoint.
Perspective is one factor that makes Warren native Mark Ozeroff’s novel “Days of Smoke” a standout.
Told from the point of view of Nazi German fighter pilot Hans Udet, “Days of Smoke” has been praised for its historical accuracy and has earned a Gold Medal for historical fiction from the Military Writers Society of America and a Golden Quill from the American Authors Association.
A pilot himself with a lifelong passion for aeronautical history, Ozeroff said a chance conversation with a former German ace fighter pilot named Gunther Rall helped inspire him.
“I wanted to write a different sort of World War II novel that would catch the eye of a publisher,” Ozeroff said during a phone interview from his home in Daytona Beach, Fla. “I originally intended to make the main character, Hans Udet, a much meaner guy, but he sort of took on a life of his own.”
Protagonist Hans Udet has an early involvement with Hitler’s air force, and as he progresses from naive young fighter pilot to ace of increasing rank, tension grows between his love for Germany and his natural compassion for humanity.
“After he rescues a young Jewish woman from a brutal assault, his growing feelings for her sensitize him to the so-called ‘Jewish problem,’ and he is torn between disdain for the Nazis and his sense of duty to Germany,” Ozeroff explained. “Hans undergoes a great transformation in his views of Hitler and undergoes a sort of crisis of conscience.”