Review of Luck of the Draw, by Frank Murphy

Available for pre-order. Release date: February 28, 2023.

Frank Murphy was a World War II pilot, shot down over enemy territory. His story is quite similar to other accounts, with minor exceptions. Unlike the books that chronicle the brutality of life in a German POW camp, Murphy’s time of incarceration seems more like an episode of Hogan’s Heroes. He played in a band and took part in skits and plays. He received letters and packages from home and the Red Cross. Only toward the end of the war when the fleeing Germans marched their POWs through the snow did conditions become cruel, with those unable to keep up left to die in the snow.

Perhaps most interesting, Murphy was in the same POW camp that inspired the (based on fact) movie, The Great Escape (1963), starring a motorcycle-riding Steve McQueen. However, Murphy lived in a different sector of the camp and was not part of the prison break.

Murphy requested a transfer with two friends to that sector, but he had just joined the band and he didn’t want to disappoint his bandmates. Murphy made the hard decision to decline the transfer.

Of the 76 who snuck out of the camp, only three made it to England. The Gestapo captured and executed 50 men on direct orders from Adolf Hitler. Twenty-three were recaptured and returned to prison.

The title of Murphy’s book, Luck of the Draw, underscores the idea that he could have been killed on any mission, but luck played out for him to return home to his family after the war.

Murphy’s story is short. Evidently, it was published previously and is being re-released with a forward by family members, a list of his crew members, pages and pages of acknowledgments, an introduction, an extensive prologue, a broad back-story leading to WWII, including the history of military aircraft. My husband and I listened on a trip in our car for over an hour and the actual story about Murphy still hadn’t started. When it did, it began with his ancestors and his formative years. After Murphy relates his story, seven appendices and a bibliography are added at the end. Most of the information that bookends the meat of this volume are tedious facts, more suitable for a reference book.

For lack of enjoyable content, I can only offer three stars for Luck of the Draw.

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