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Interview as it appeared in J.E. Barrett’s Author Blog (Author of SPILLED)

February 13, 2013


Interview with John E. Nevola, author of “The Last Jump: A Novel of World War II”.

Feb 13, 2013

 I recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview author John E. Nevola about his book, “The Last Jump: A Novel of World War II”. The work falls into the category of historical fiction and focuses mainly on Soldiers in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and their efforts to stay alive throughout the Allies struggle to wrest control of Europe from the Axis powers. The novel does not tell the story solely from the point of view of the Soldiers on the battlefield. It also touches on the lives and loves the Soldiers left behind, as well as the social, political and economic changes our nation went through in order to meet the challenges it faced at the time. I strongly recommend this work for any fan of military history, World War II, the Airborne, or anyone just looking for a good story. Below, you will find a transcript of my interview of Mr. Nevola. I encourage all of you to take the time to preview his free first chapter on
J.E. Barrett:  You addressed many political, social, and economic issues in the book that America and the world were facing during World War II. Was there an overall message that you were trying to convey and how difficult was it for you to address everything you touched on in one novel?
 John E. Nevola: In researching the time period and recalling events in my own young life along with the stories told by my father, uncles and their friends, I was both motivated and inspired to understand their lives and stories in greater detail.  Upon learning more about them, I felt compelled to tell their story, speak for those who no longer had voice and attempt to educate modern America about those genuine heroes who preceded us.
Many felt, and still feel, that this period was a dark cloud over America’s legacy.  They use the examples of segregation and the bias and poor treatment of ethnic minorities, African Americans and women as examples of America’s shortcomings and failures.  I prefer to view that period as a turning point in American history.  The necessities of waging War compelled every American to participate and provided opportunities that may have otherwise not become available for years, if ever.  Those who took advantage of those opportunities to prove their worth changed the world forever and the march to true equality began in earnest during the War.
The overall message is that America’s greatness comes from its people and we are at our best when challenged and struggling to attain certain goals.  We’ve lost some of that spunk and spirit as more people rely less on themselves and more on government.  I simply wanted to point out what great things have been accomplished through determination, courage and the belief in American exceptional-ism.  Americans can overcome any obstacle and we are at our best with our backs against the wall.
J.E. Barrett:  You obviously spent an enormous amount of time and effort on the research alone for this book. What inspired you to begin such a massive undertaking and what kept you going through it all?
John E. Nevola:  I always loved to write and hoped to someday apply myself totally to that aspiration.  Over the years, I had started a number of projects and not completed them. Then I received some advice that changed all that.  I was advised to “write what you love and what you know about”.  I had already been a “student of history” based on my own curiosity and interest and especially the history of World War II.  The saga of the airborne had always captivated me.  Putting them together seemed natural.  Once I got started, the story sustained itself and would not allow me to let this project go uncompleted.   At times, the story wrote itself and at other times I had to push my way through a particularly hard passage or plot twist.  When it became difficult, I allowed myself to be inspired by the sacrifices of the 400,000 who died, 16 million who served and the rest of the 130 million who found a way to contribute.
J.E. Barrett:  How long did it take you to compile all the research material for the book?
John E. Nevola:  I did most of the detailed research as I went along.  I already knew the battles, timeframes and outcomes but in order to write an accurate historical novel, the key historical figures must interact with the fictional characters in the appropriate and accurate time and place.  So each scene had to be researched to assure the units and formations along with the real and fictional characters were where they were supposed to be.  Primarily because of this insistence on complete accuracy, the book took nearly 4 years to write and another year to edit.  I must confess, however, there was only one instance in the book where I took a bit of literary license and had a well-known historical figure interact with the wrong unit in the wrong place.  I’m still waiting for someone to call me out on that (smile).
J.E. Barrett:  Was there anything you learned during the process of writing “The Last Jump” that surprised you?
 John E. Nevola:  I learned a lot and a lot surprised me.  I thought a bigger book was better and was surprised to find that not to be the case.  It certainly is desirable for the likes of Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Stephen Ambrose but new authors should be brief and concise. Much of my editing time was consumed reducing the original manuscript by about 15%.
Insofar as content, I was already reasonably familiar with the campaigns in World War II but found some of the details on the Home front surprising.  The amount of material collected in scrap drives, the number and places of Victory Gardens, the process of rationing and how it was managed were all interesting revelations.  The fact that America had to run 7 separate savings bond drives to pay for the War and was just about broke when it ended was definitely a surprise.  A War-weary America financing the cost of the War (for itself and much of the Allies) through its people’s largess and virtually tapped out makes one wonder what would have happened if the War would have lasted another 6-12 months.
J.E. Barrett: You spend quite  a bit of time in “The Last Jump” capturing the culture of America during World War II, including people’s changing roles and the sense of national unity that made it possible for the country to accomplish the amazing things it did at the time. The people of that generation are often referred to as “The Greatest Generation”. Do you think they are deserving of the title and if so, why?
John E. Nevola: I certainly do.  And I would if their sole accomplishment was simply winning the War.  Remember, the vast majority of American’s wanted no part in another European war.  We were a nation of pacifists and simply wanted to be left alone.  While Germany and Japan armed themselves to the teeth and had tasted blood in combat for years, America eschewed a rapid expansion of its military and tried and hoped to remain at peace.  Having been attacked, the mood quickly changed but it took a Herculean effort to change our industry from peacetime to a war footing.  Catching up to our formidable adversaries and finally surpassing them in production, technology and manpower was truly an amazing feat.
However, to accomplish this off the back of The Great Depression makes the accomplishment all the more unbelievable.  This was the generation who grew up without some of the barest necessities of life.  They were the impoverished remnants of a nation struggling through horrible economic times.  They all had to figure out how to make do or do without.  The children, mostly born in the 20s, made up the bulk of our fighting forces and while every strata of society participated in this War, the sons and daughters of mostly immigrants, having grown up poor and destitute, bore the brunt of the combat assignments and the preponderance of casualties.  And yet despite this enormous handicap which took its toll on people’s education and health, this generation gathered itself and won what many thought was an un-winnable War.  And then they came home, started families, got themselves educated and built a great economic society with soaring character, integrity and morality.
This book has given me the opportunity to meet many of these folks at book signings, speeches, re-enactments and community events.  They are humble but surprisingly forthcoming in the twilight of their lives.  I have made, and already lost, some very good friends I would have not otherwise had the honor of knowing.  They are leaving us at the rate of about 1,500 per day.  There are less than a million left of the 16 million who served.  We all owe them all a great debt and our gratitude for what they accomplished.  It is in their memory that I donate a substantial portion of my royalties to charity to assist the children of the fallen.
I am humbled and gratified by whatever recognition and acknowledgement The Last Jump can bring to this wonderful generation, but I fear it will never be enough.
For those of you interested, here are Mr. Nevola’s websites:
John E. Nevola
Author of The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II
Amazon Top 5 Rated Historical Fiction Book
Stars and Flags Best Historical Fiction Book of 2011
Follow me on Twitter –> @TheLastJump

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