Blog > TLS picks Sweet Skies Best Book of the Year

1 December 2023

TLS picks Sweet Skies Best Book of the Year

Photograph showing German men and women removing the rubble barricades between the American Sector and the Soviet Sector of Berlin at the end of the Berlin Blockade, May 1949. Between April 1948 and May 1949 Josef Stalin, leader of the USSR, imposed a land blockade on supplies from Western Europe to West Berlin. In response the British and American governments organised an enormous airlift to supply food and other essentials to the 2.5 million inhabitants of West Berlin. After a year Stalin conceded defeat and lifted the blockade. Date: 1949 The background to Sweet Skies

‘Three recent releases set during or just after the Second World War are variably free-spirited fictionalizations of true events. The standout among these is Robin Scott-Elliot’s Sweet Skies. Between June 1948 and September 1949 the Luftbrücke, or Berlin airlift, kept the residents of West Berlin supplied with food and fuel after the Soviets blockaded the city. Scott-Elliot’s novel takes its inspiration from Operation Little Vittles, a later stage of the airlift whereby chocolate and sweets were dropped from the transport aircraft that would become known as the “Raisin” or “Candy Bombers”. Otto Hartmann, a fourteen-year-old Berliner who yearns to become a pilot despite having lost an eye in a tank attack, gets involved in a complex exchange of black-market goods between an American airman and a ruthless Soviet spymaster. Scott-Elliot pulls off the difficult task of making a Cold War thriller suitable for younger readers without overly smoothing its edges; Sweet Skies is genuinely exciting.’ TLS

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