We’re pleased to announce that The True Story of Catch-22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II is now available from Casemate Publishers!
The True Story of Catch-22 reveals the real men and combat missions on which the novel, Catch-22, was based. Written by the daughter of the 240th Bomb Group’s commander, Col. Willis Chapman, this book includes the tales, photographs, and recollections of twelve members of the Bomb Group.
To learn more about this fascinating book, we asked author Patricia Meder a few questions.
How much research did you do for the book?
The research was extensive and lengthy. I was not in a hurry. After Catch-22‘s publication, I began squirreling away every article, etc. that I came across. I collected profuse amounts of original material over a lot of years. I went to various bomb group and squadron reunions and interviewed many of the men involved. I sifted meticulously through my father’s copious war materials. Many years passed before suddenly it was the exact right time to kick into high gear.
What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?
Like any subject, the more you learn about it the more fascinating it becomes. There is a tension now about still being able to physically connect with those aging warrior who lived WWII and know how fleeting these moments are becoming. I value their personal, verbal stories. When writing about a happening, so much richness can come by remembering the sound of a voice or the expression on a face or a hundred other personal details.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I realized very quickly that a parallel book to Catch-22 could be really fine. It was a game at first, matching up characters. Slowly, I became aware that fact could be as gripping as fiction and my thoughts turned serious. The components were all there and I seemed to be the right person to work with them.
How long did it take you to write it?
Forever. The work went in stops and starts. I always kept a keen eye out for helpful material. Life always took precedence over writing until these past several years where I suddenly found I was losing these WWII men. That put this book on the very hot front burner.
What do you like the most about your book?
I love contrasts – the play of fact and fiction, witty and grim. Occasionally, the true facts are more amusing than the fiction. I found that the deeper I went into files and lives, the more fascinating they became. I challenge any reader to forget the bombardier whose parachute dropped from the unexpected open hatch as their murdered plane was in its death throes.