Robert Harlow´s new novel, Necessary Dark, is long awaited, and is published now for the first time. It chronicles the personal war of bomber pilot Howard Tate from when he joined the Canadian airforce at the beginning of 1942, age 18, until the Spring of 1945 when peace was declared in Europe.
For Tate, this great adventure means growing up inside a war and graduating from it at 21 years old knowing only how to bomb and destroy an enemy target and fly back to base in whatever way possible. The war also demands that he lose command of his young life and become the creature of a universal cause that is called both great and necessary by most of his generation. And finally, as with all returning warriors, it means being guilty of having survived.
Like Tate, Robert Harlow was a Lancaster bomber pilot in WWll, and so Necessary Dark can´t help but be part autobiography. When Tate flies, he flies out of the author´s memory and his wartime log book. But fiction takes over when Tate is on the ground among friends and new acquaintances. During those times between raids against the Germans, and when he is on leave, he is not able to stop struggling hopefully toward a future that can´t be counted on.
Necessary Dark does not concentrate on one operation or mission by a bomber crew; it takes the reader along on training flights that suddenly become dangerous, and on many of the thirty raids Tate and his crew fly to targets inside enemy territory: trips at night to the big cities of the Rhur, bombing operations in support of the army after D-day, low-level daylight raids on airfields, and special operations using as few as three heavy bombers to destroy a well-protected target. Nothing in combat is routine.
Tate was good at attracting trouble and lucky at living through it until the final operation to Essen in November of 1944, when failed brakes, a jammed gate on his throttle quadrant, a cu-nim cloud and two miscalculations climax Tate and his crew´s tour of duty and herald a necessary dark, which Tate takes away from the war to live with for the rest of his life.
The climax of Robert Harlow´s long career as a writer comes here in Necessary Dark: a fiction spiced with memoir that is the gold at the end of his personal rainbow.
© Robert Harlow 2001 - 2012