Captain Ralph Minker was a bomber pilot in Europe during WW II. He and his family kept all of the letters they wrote from the time he left for training until he came home from the war, about 800. An American Family in World War II contains about 200 of them from and to his parents and two younger sisters. The letters are in chronological order with editorial notes in between commenting on world affairs or clarifying some point in the letter. I find it amazing that all of these letters have survived. I hoped there would be some interesting information here.

Unfortunately there was not. Most of the letters contain mundane information about his sister’s math test or the performance of the high school football team. While I’m sure the letters were important to the senders and recipients I can’t say the same for me. Minker does discuss some of his training, but even that is not overly interesting. I held out hopes that when he went overseas the letters would become more interesting. About three quarters through he gets sent to England but due to war time censorship his letters actually became less interesting. The editors did include a paragraph description of each mission though.

I did note one interesting thing, one of Minker’s sisters wrote that she was concerned about being able to get into college. Apparently many more women were going to college since they were now able to afford it. They had gotten jobs that would not have been open to them without the war and now had more money. Something I’d never thought of.

I can only recommend this book to anyone that has a serious interest in the WW II home front or enjoys reading other people’s mail.