The smoke covered hillside dimmed the flashes as our altitude increased. Ahead, a last bursting shell fanned out in the clear smokeless sky like a brilliant American star to light our way.
(from Sketches of a Black Cat, page 94)
Quick summary: Sketches of a Black Cat is the World War II story of Howard Miner, a PBY pilot in the South Pacific. His son, Ron Miner, found his artwork, journal entries, and other writings after his death and transformed them into this memoir, which chronicles Howard’s military training, service during WWII, and his life after the war.
Why I wanted to read it: I had never heard of the Black Cats, who flew at night in black seaplanes. I also was curious about Howard Miner’s story and his artwork.
What I liked: The sketches and writings found by Ron Miner after his father’s death are a real treasure. Sketches of a Black Cat not only shows his father’s evolution from student to soldier but also emphasizes Ron’s love and admiration for his father. Howard Miner’s story is detailed, full of adventure and even humor. The photos, sketches, and watercolors bring this memoir to life.
What I disliked: I wouldn’t say I really disliked anything in this book, but at times, it was too detailed for me. The descriptions of the planes and their maneuvers, for instance, were not as interesting to me as the overall story.
Final thoughts: As fewer and fewer heroes from WWII remain to tell their stories, books like Sketches of a Black Cat take on greater importance, and the inclusion of original artwork make it one of the most unique WWII memoirs I’ve read so far. I appreciate Ron Miner taking the time to reconstruct his father’s story, sharing it with the world and ensuring his father and his tales of courage during wartime will live forever within its pages.
Disclosure: I received Sketches of a Black Cat from the author for review.
© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.