Read Seized by the Sun: The Life and Disappearance of World War II Pilot Gertrude Tompkins by James W. Ure Online


Of the 38 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) confirmed or presumed dead in World War II, only one—Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins—is still missing. On October 26, 1944, the 32-year-old fighter plane pilot lifted off from Mines Field in Los Angeles. She was never seen again.Seized by the Sun is the story of a remarkable woman who overcame a troubled childhood and the societalOf the 38 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) confirmed or presumed dead in World War II, only one—Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins—is still missing. On October 26, 1944, the 32-year-old fighter plane pilot lifted off from Mines Field in Los Angeles. She was never seen again.Seized by the Sun is the story of a remarkable woman who overcame a troubled childhood and the societal constraints of her time to find her calling flying the fastest and most powerful airplane of World War II. It is also a compelling unsolved mystery. Born in 1912 to a wealthy New Jersey family, Gertrude’s childhood was marked by her mother’s bouts with depression and her father’s relentless search for a cure for the debilitating stutter that afflicted Gertrude throughout her life. Teased and struggling in school, young Gertrude retreated to a solitary existence. As a young woman she dabbled in raising goats and aimlessly crisscrossed the globe in an attempt to discover her purpose. As war loomed in Europe, Gertrude met the love of her life, a Royal Air Force pilot who was killed flying over Holland. Telling her sister that she “couldn’t stop crying, so she focused on learning to fly,” Gertrude applied to join the newly formed Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. She went on to become such a superior pilot that she was one of only 126 WASPs selected to fly fighter planes. After her first flight in the powerful P-51 Mustang, her stutter left her for good. Gertrude’s sudden disappearance remains a mystery to this day. Award-winning author Jim Ure leads readers through Gertrude’s fascinating life; provides a detailed account of the WASPs’ daily routines, training, and challenges; and describes the ongoing search for Gertrude’s wreck and remains. The result of years of research and interviews with Gertrude’s family, friends, and fellow WASPs, Seized by the Sun is an invaluable addition to any student’s or history buff’s bookshelf....

Title : Seized by the Sun: The Life and Disappearance of World War II Pilot Gertrude Tompkins
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781613735879
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 194 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Seized by the Sun: The Life and Disappearance of World War II Pilot Gertrude Tompkins Reviews

  • Lauren Stoolfire
    2019-05-14 15:12

    I received a free eARC of this work of non-fiction book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins is the only one of the thirty-eight confirmed or presumed dead Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II who is still missing. The thirty-two year old fighter plane pilot took off from Mines Field in Los Angeles, California en route to Palm Springs on October 26th, 2014. Gertrude was born in 1912 to a wealthy New Jersey family. She struggled and was teased throughout school (she had a terrible stutter) and she retreated into herself. As a young woman, she raised goats as well as crisscrossed the globe in order to find her true purpose in life. When the love of her life, a Royal Air Force pilot, was killed over Holland as WWII loomed over Europe, she devoted herself to learning to fly and applied to the newly formed WASPs. She became such fantastic pilot that she was one of only 126 WASPs selected to fly fighter planes. After flying a P-51 Mustang for the first time, she overcame her debilitating stutter. Tompkins sudden disappearance is still a mystery to this day with no success at finding her remains or the wreckage of her plane.I've always been fascinated by women's efforts during World War II, from the WASPs, WAVEs, and WACs to their work in factories on the home front. Of them, I have always been the most fascinated in the WASPs. After having visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Museum in Dayton, Ohio to see their exhibition on these brave women, I became doubly interested so I've been particularly interested in finding them in fiction and non-fiction. While I enjoyed learning more about Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins life story, I would have preferred a more focused story on her time with the WASPs, as an organization or fellow pilots. While we learn quite a bit about her early life before she joins the war effort, it a little too long to get to that point - at nearly half way through the book in fact. Regardless, this YA Non-Fiction is definitely worth reading as a jumping off point regarding the WASPs and women's involvement in WWII.

  • Charlie
    2019-05-11 17:33

    The first half of this book is about her growing up in a rich family. About the only flaw she had was being a stutterer most of her life and trying to please her father in some awkward situations. This is what makes this story very interesting. She was also a world traveler before making her way into the WASP - Women's Airforce Service Pilot - family. The other half of the book is about her dedication and determination to be the best she could be to make the WASP team. Then tragic struck - she and her airplane disappeared just after take off. Yes, other stuff happened to her eventful life as well. How did being a stutterer affect her flying an airplane? Read the book - you'll find out. Thanks to the publisher and Goodreads for this excellent book for in exchange an honest review.

  • Alex Baugh
    2019-05-15 13:12

    It would seem that having been born in to a well-to-do New Jersey family, Gertrude Tompkins’ life should have been a happy one, free from care and stress. The third daughter of Vreeland and Laura Tompkins, right from the start, Gertrude stuttered just like her father. Vreeland dragged her to doctors throughout her childhood, trying all kinds of supposed cures for stuttering, and naturally, none worked except to make Gertrude miserable. School was especially difficult for her, and she made up excuses not to go whenever possible, finding solace in books and reading instead. After high school, Gertrude attended the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women, where, though still feeling like an outsider, she found more acceptance than she had in her earlier school days. After graduating, Gertrude traveled abroad extensively, but returning home found herself feeling closed in and eventually moved into her own place in Greenwich Village, commuting to work in her father’s company in New Jersey everyday. During that time, Gertrude met Mike Kolendorski, a pilot in Eagle Squadron 71, and it was most likely Mike who introduced her to flying. After he left to fly for England, she began taking flying lessons, so when the United States entered WWII in 1941, and Gertrude learned that women pilots were needed to replace men now in service, she put in her application to become a part of the newly formed WASPs (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots).It is speculated that Mike Kolendorski was the love of Gertrude’s life, but even her sister Elizabeth didn’t know for certain that this was true (Kolendorski was killed on a flying mission in 1941). Interviews with Gertrude’s fellow WASPs and friends yielded some information, and it was made very clear that she loved flying. At this point, the book not only explores Gertrude’s life in the WASPs, but also gives an in-depth history of how the WASPs began and it troubled existence. Gertrude was apparently a very private person, considering how little is known about her life. The book does do a great job of piecing together the life of Gertrude Tompkins. She apparently was a very private person, considering how little is known about her life, even by her sisters. It also does a great job giving a detailed account of the WASP and especially the poor treatment the women received from the men pilots and those in charge. There simply were no benefits for these courageous women who put their lives on the line in service to their country. They were forced to pay for everything they needed, while men were provided for, and they were also used to fly planes dragging a banner that was used for target practice with live ammunition and no health, medical, or death benefits if they are hurt or killed. Still, Gertrude and her fellow WASPs loved flying.As the war began to turn in favor of the allies, and it looked like the end was coming, Ure speculates the Gertrude must have wondered what she was going to do afterwards. When a marriage proposal came from an old friend, Henry Silver, she reluctantly and unhappily accepted, mainly to please her father. Not long after, Gertrude disappeared shortly before taking off in a plane near Santa Monica Bay, California. Neither she nor her plane were ever found and what happened remains a mystery to this day.I’ve read a number of fictional accounts of women who were WASPs during the war, (Flygirl, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Becoming Clementine) and I found that these fictional accounts about life as a female pilot corresponded really well with Ure’s factual information. I also thought he did a great job describing Gertrude’s life, though there was a lot of speculation wherever there were gaps. A number of searches for Gertrude have taken place, but to no avail and Ure theorizes on the possibilities of why nothing was ever found.Do read Ure’s Afterword to discover how the book was put together. Additional back matter includes a list of Gertrude’s personal effects found in various footlockers and quarters, a Tribute to WASPs Killed in Service, detailed Notes, and an extensive Bibliography. This book is recommended for readers age 12+This book was an EARC received from Edelweiss+

  • Ms. Yingling
    2019-05-18 18:12

    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineWhile I am intrigued by this "Women of Action" series, this read more like a scholarly tome than a middle grade book. I'm glad to know about these, and will keep them in mind for my REALLY hard core war buffs, but will most likely not purchase and will rely on students getting this from the public library. If I had an unlimited budget, or if World War II was officially in our curriculum, I'd buy it.

  • Book Club Mom
    2019-05-14 16:36

    I enjoyed this life story of Gertrude Thompkins, a World War II pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. In 1944, Thompkins was flying a P-51D fighter plane when she disappeared during a short flight from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. Her plane has never been recovered and she is one of thirty-eight female pilots either confirmed or presumed dead.Gertrude was raised in New Jersey and was the daughter of a wealthy business man. Her childhood was often unhappy and marked by a debilitating stutter. These years were consumed by her father’s endless efforts to cure her of the same affliction that plagued him and her mother’s depression. After high school, she earned a college degree in horticulture and traveled the world before she discovered a love for flying. It was her confidence in the air that finally cured her stuttering.The book describes the rigorous WASP training and explains how the female pilots flew fighter planes to bases to be loaded with arsenals before enlisted male pilots flew into battle. The author includes many interesting details about the times and women during World War II. I enjoyed learning that the reason pilots wore silk scarves around their necks was to keep their necks from chafing as they constantly turned their heads to check their course.I knew a little bit about the WASP program, but didn’t completely understand what the female pilots did in the war effort. I had never heard about Gertrude Thompkins and was impressed with her fearless ambition.Seized by the Sun is an excellent story for readers of all ages. The book includes many photographs and interesting sidebars and offers a great way to learn about history. It is part of the Women in Action Series of biographies.

  • Brianna Westervelt
    2019-05-27 14:16

    Author James W. Ure presents the captivating (albeit short) story of World War II pilot Gertrude Tompkins.After graduating from college, Gertrude really did not know what she wanted to do with her life. (Hmm, that sounds familiar...) So she traveled. With her aunt for a chaperone, Gertrude traveled throughout Europe. But, eventually, she ended up back home in New Jersey, working for her father at his company, Smooth-On, Inc. However, Gertrude wasn't entirely satisfied with this life. Then she started flying. Born with a stutter that was believed to be inherited from her father, Gertrude was often seen as shy and quiet. But up in the air, she tasted freedom--perhaps embodying a Jimi Hendrix lyric that would come decades later: "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky."Around the time that Gertrude first tasted flight, World War II was gaining steam. And, as we all (should) know, the United States entered the war soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Around this same time, the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) was created. These women pilots were used for non-combat missions in the war, freeing up male pilots for combat. Gertrude quickly signed up.And during her years as a WASP, Gertrude's stutter "disappeared forever when she raced into the blue on silver wings," writes Ure. A testament to the power flying had on Gertrude.Unfortunately, the WASP was disbanded in 1944 before the conclusion of the war. A conclusion and a disbanding that Gertrude would not see......And I'll leave it at that, lest I give away anything from the story before you have a chance to read it! In that regard, Ure certainly writes with an air of mystery, which is perhaps why I finished reading this book so quickly. The narrative has a tendency to be broken up with sidebars -- some more welcome than others -- but, overall, they enhance the story and the time period in which it took place.If you're bored with traditional World War II history, spice things up with this book from Chicago Review Press, part of their Women of Action series.

  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    2019-05-02 20:36

    During World War II, women were used extensively by the United States military to free up men to fight in the war. The American military industrial complex was churning out hundreds, if not thousands, of planes per day and struggled to find a way to transport the planes to their shipping destinations so that they would be able to be transferred overseas. There weren't enough male pilots available—as they were needed to be fighting—so the civilian Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were created. In the course of three years, these courageous women flew over 60 million miles in every type of military aircraft, ferrying planes across the country, towing targets for live air defense exercises and serving as test pilots, flight instructors and much more.38 WASPs gave their lives for their country. One is listed as still missing. Gertrude Thompkins took off from Mine Field in Los Angeles on 26 October 1944. She was never seen again. This is her story—and the story of all the other WASPs who broke down barriers for female pilots.Overall, this was a pretty solid book. It's meant for middle-grade or younger high school students and has cool extra notes to give extra context for readers who might not know a whole lot about World War II, the Depression or the 1920s. I felt that the writing needed a little more brushing up, as there was a lot left out or jumped over, and I wanted to know more about certain parts of Gertrude's life instead of a couple chapters on goats. Much of the book is speculation about Gertrude's day to day life and opinions, mostly from interviews from her older sister, Elizabeth. The information of the WASPs was well done, but I felt like I had gotten more information on them from YA novels like Flygirl.I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

  • JoLee
    2019-05-12 15:09

    Seized by the Sun is a biography written for young readers of Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins, the only one of the 38 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) confirmed or presumed dead who is still missing.James W. Ure tells the story of Gertrude's life, from her childhood in New Jersey, her struggle with a speech impediment, her love of flying, to her training with the WASP. Ure also writes about the ongoing search for Gertrude's plane, presumed to have gone down in the Santa Monica Bay. After reading many fictional accounts of WWII women aviators, it was very interesting to read about a real WASP and the details of her training, work, and friendships with fellow pilots. Review copy from NetGalley.

  • Melisende d'Outremer
    2019-05-08 16:20

    This is a good introduction into the lives of the women of WASP. The focus of this work is on one woman in particular - Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins. It is more of a memoir than a factual history, and we are treated to stories from Gertrude's early life (childhood and family), schooling, travels and marriage prior to her joining WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) at its very inception.Then the book details Gertrude's "career" with WASP - her training, her female comrades, the flying, all the while reminding us - the reader - that these were dangerous times, and many of the female pilots were killed in the commission of their duties - 38 documented losses.And then we come to Gertrude's final flight - what did happen that day is not fully known; some details are very sketchy; her state of mind was unknown; and even today, theories abound.As I mentioned, it is not a factual history of WASP, its pilots, nor a traditional biography. It is a simply written memoir for the curious reader.

  • Luisa
    2019-05-17 18:30

    I won a copy of this book on goodreads in exchange for an honest review. I liked the subject matter of the book. It presented the life of a unique young woman that struggled with a disabilty and was to acheive something that many women of her generation couldn't, flying military/combat planes. Although I liked the subject matter some how I felt the book was lacking something. This would be a good read for anyone interested in early female pilots, avation in the second world war and gender discrimination in the early to mid 20th century.

  • Christen
    2019-04-30 15:07

    Content: 5 stars! The subject material was very interesting. I greatly enjoyed learning about Gertrude Tompkins and the WASPs in general. Writing style: 3 stars. It read more like a high school history book than as a compelling story.Sidenote: I certainly hope Gertrude's disappearance is solved one day.

  • Chris Cook
    2019-05-01 13:21

    This was a readable and interesting book, about a woman I didn't know much about. She was a WASP during World War II, and disappeared after take-off just before the WASP disbanded in 1944. I really enjoyed how the author outlined her life before becoming a WASP, the WASP training, and the various search missions that have gone on to try to figure out what happened to her and her plane.

  • Videoclimber(AKA)MTsLilSis
    2019-05-08 20:18

    An inspirational story of an unsolved mystery. I honestly had no idea that this woman existed. Her story was interesting and I only wish we knew what became of her.*Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for allowing me to read and advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Katie
    2019-05-16 15:21

    Pretty dry and academic, given the intended audience. Some kids who are really into war biographies might be into it.

  • Shauna Yusko
    2019-05-01 18:11

    Will recommend but might not buy for my middle school library with a limited budget.

  • elissa
    2019-05-17 14:30

    Writing-wise, this is only 3 stars, but interest-wise it's 4 stars, so more like 3 1/2. The research the author did over many years is pretty fascinating. The way it's told could be more engaging.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-03 16:30

    The story of Gertrude Tomkins is interesting, but unfortunately this book does not do it justice. The writing is poor and the many speculations about what Gertrude might have none aren't appropriate in a biography.I received an ARC from NetGalley.

  • PWRL
    2019-05-23 21:15