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James R. Lankford

National Historian, 14th Armored Division Association

Over the years, many World War II memoirs have found their way into publication. They vary dramatically, ranging from those that are poorly written, presented without proper historical context, or overly self-aggrandizing to the rare, precious few that are well-researched, historically correct, and honestly portray the wartime experiences of men who accomplished great things all the while retaining the foibles which plague all human beings. Two Gold Coins And A Prayer happily belongs to the latter group.

(Click here to read entire Appreciation by Jim Lankford)

8th AF News (Volume 10 Number 3)

September 2010

Book Review by Mark Copeland – 8th AF News Editor and Historian

The 8th AF News is the quarterly magazine published by the Eighth Air Force Historical Society

(Click on 'related links' for a link to their web site)

James H. Keeffe was a B-24 pilot in the 389th Bomb Group in the Second Air Division. On March 8, 1944, he was forced to bail out of his crippled Liberator over Papendrecht, Holland. With the help of the Dutch Resistance, Mr. Keeffe managed to evade capture by the Germans for five months, until he was finally betrayed and sent to Stalag Luft III to spend the remainder of the war as a POW.

Mr. Keeffe's son, James H. Keeffe III is the author of this first class publication. Two Gold Coins and a Prayer is the amazing story of one airman's journey with the Dutch Underground and his subsequent survival as a prisoner of the Germans.

Impeccably researched and skillfully written, this superb account of Mr. Keeffe's experience will leave the reader not only amazed, but emotionally moved.

This is far and away, one of the best 8th Air Force evasion and POW accounts that has ever been written. It was a joy and a pleasure to read and [I] give it my highest recommendation.

A review by Ruth Cook, author of Guests Behind the Barbed Wire, and North Across the River. Ruth is also the host of the well-known grammar blog found here:

There are many good memoirs of World War II, even many specifically about bomber pilots and prisoners of war, but Two Gold Coins and a Prayer is unique for a number of reasons. It is, at the outset, the very personal story of a well-trained Army Air Forces pilot shot down over Holland in March 1944. For five months, Lt. Jim Keeffe relies on the kindness of strangers in occupied Holland who risk their security and their lives to keep him safe. The detailed account of that trust and friendship is a story in itself, including the two precious gold coins referred to in the title. A wealthy Dutchman offers them to him in exchange for the English pounds that would betray him instantly if the Germans found them.

(Click here to read the entire review by Ruth Cook on her blog site called Geneva POW)

From Sgt. John M. Rhoads, 389th Bomb Group, 566th Bomb Squadron Operations Clerk at Hethel Air Station, East Anglia, England. July 1943 to June1945.

I finished reading your book. I am at a loss to adequately describe my feelings. As I read of your father's joys and ordeals, it was as though I were there with him. This has made me wonder what I would have done had I been confronted with these circumstances.

Now to my wife Millie. She just completed the book. Her comments: Your book is by far the best of the three veterans works that I have obtained. The documentation and illustrations are excellent. It is written in a manner that she felt she was with your father every step from his bail out, for the few months he was under the care of the resistance network, his betrayal and capture, interrogation and imprisonment.

It was difficult for her to put this book down to go do chores and she could hardly wait to resume reading. Cheers - John

From Robert (Bob) Tinnell of

Salem, OR

(I met Bob at the Arlington Fly-in when he and his wife sat in on a presentation I gave about the book.)

Dear Mr Keeffe,

I first became aware of the wonderful book you authored at the Arlington, WA EAA Northwest Fly-in in July. I attended your presentation and must say it was probably the high point of my four days at the show.

I doubt that you will remember me, but I was the individual who related my experience when visiting Amsterdam on May 5, 1999 at 8:00 PM (Liberation Day). The emotional experience my wife and I shared as all traffic, commerce, conversation, pedestrian movement and other activity stopped for two minutes is one I will remember for the rest of my life. That recollection connected solidly for me during your presentation.

I purchased a copy of your book, which you autographed, that will have a permanent place in my library. I read every word and reread some of it. I congratulate you for your labor of love in producing this wonderful work. Your documentation, letters, photos and notes add greatly to the story. These things gave me a feeling of intimacy with your father's experiences that I do not ever recall feeling after reading another book.

I am a retired physics teacher and have done a considerable amount of scientific and genealogical research. This background gives me great appreciation for the time and effort you have spent on your documentation. I would like to thank your family and friends for sharing their time with you so you could complete this effort.

I am also very happy that your father requested that you do not exaggerate the events in his story. This made it so much better. It also illustrates beautifully how some people are able to rise up and maintain their humanity while being surrounded by examples of inhumanity in trying circumstances. Your father's conduct during the war and later represents a model to be emulated by many (including politicians at all extremes).

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