YANKEE FIGHTER, an e-book 2019 edition of a book published by Little, Brown and Company in 1942, by Lieutenant John F. Hasey as told to Joseph P. Dinneen.
This is the biographical description of an American who fought in the Free French Foreign Legion after the Nazis burst through the Maginot Line, invaded Paris and established the Vichy government. It is the story of a young boy growing up as the son of a wealthy and prominent American industrialist who was intrigued with France and immigrated there as a young man. Here, through social connections, he gained employment with a prominent vendor of Cartier’s jewelry largely because of his heritage. His natural abilities, coupled with social contacts acquired through family and acquaintances, proved to be most helpful in attaining a prominent sales position in Paris, as well as Monte Carlo and he proceeded to live the ‘high life’ concurrent with the position. It also served to offer wide spread introduction to many of the prominent statesmen, royal persons and movie stars of the era and close association with performers of the prominent entertainment centers, Paris night clubs and theaters. The advent of the Nazi invasion drastically changed everything. All of Europe was in trouble and America was hesitant about entering the conflict. He felt compelled to help. His first efforts took him to Finland with an ambulance corps but further delays in expansion of such services caused him to seek other means of participating. With Charles de Gaulle’s establishment of the provisional French government and the resistance movement he joined the Free French Foreign Legion and established a heroic reputation serving as an infantry lieutenant as they fought through much of the ‘backdoor’ attack on the Mussolini/Hitler Axis through Africa and Syria. He was severely wounded and finally returned to America where plastic surgery ultimately restored him to a semblance of his former self.
Discussion: This is an extremely engaging book for anyone even vaguely acquainted with, or curios about this chaotic period of world history. It provides an interesting view of the activities of certain members of the period’s upper classes and one man’s desire to aid his adopted country. Simultaneously it provides intriguing facts with respect to DeGaulle’s strategic abilities and lesser known details of France’s warfare against the Axis. Additionally, it provides an interesting look at the fantastic medical/surgical developments as a result of WW II. Briefly it describes the horrific wound suffered by Hasey and follows the lengthy treatment it required until his final return to a semblance of his former ‘normal’ appearance as result of plastic surgery provided by V. H. Kazanjian. As a pertinent aside, Kazanjian is considered to be one of the most prominent persons in initiating and developing the field of Plastic Surgery. He originally was a graduate of Harvard Dental School specializing in Oral Surgery and became a member of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Unit sent to Europe to treat the wounded during the war. Because of his imaginative approach and ability to devise unusual treatment techniques, he was given ‘free hand’ to attempt to make horribly wounded warriors again to become at least visually passable human beings. Upon his return to the States, he received his M.D. and continued to refine his techniques. His successful treatment of the story’s heroic protagonist, apologetically brings back personal memories for this reviewer of attending many lectures by this fantastically talented and innovative man, Veristad Kazanjian.
5* For readers interested in biography, especially of this chaotic era.