Marcus Nannini began his journalism career when he published his own newspaper in the sixth grade, charging 25 cents for the privilege of reading the only printed copy of each edition. During his undergraduate years Nannini was a paid reporter and worked three semesters as the research assistant for journalism professor and published author Richard Stocks Carlson, Ph.D.
Nannini is a life-long history buff with a particular interest in World War II and the Pearl Harbor attack. His continuing curiosity over several Japanese aerial photographs and the turtling of the U.S.S. Oklahoma lead him to write Chameleons, first as a screenplay and now as a full-length novel.
More than four months of research were devoted to Chameleons, underscoring Nannini’s efforts to painstakingly recreate the experiences of his protagonist, “Ken Kida,” both prior to, and following the Japanese attack on that fateful Sunday morning, December 7, 1941.
Coming in mid 2020 is the compelling WW II Story: MIDNIGHT FLIGHT TO NUREMBURG.
Full proposal available upon request, MarcusNannini@aol.com
Midnight Flight to Nuremberg details the WWII Experiences of C-47 Pilot/Instructor, First Lieutenant Harry E. Watson, Jr., a veteran of 27 Combat Missions, recipient of three Air Medals and seven Battle Stars.
Just before Christmas, 1932, 10-year-old Harry Watson finds himself stuck, head-first, at the top of an abandoned coal mine. Fighting a blinding snowstorm, his mom struggles to the top of the rock pile, pushes Harry through the narrow opening, and into the mine shaft where he gathers enough coal to carry the family through the pending holidays.
Ever the risk-taker, Harry escaped the coal mines by joining the Army Air Corps in 1940. When he embarked on his first solo flight, he nearly killed himself, inadvertently earning a reputation as being an exceptional pilot. Afterward, an observer confessed to him he witnessed God sitting in the forward cockpit, though when he landed, he was entirely alone. It was a turning point and established the basis of his spiritual development. As soon as he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant, he married a girl he met at the USO and was quickly promoted to Flight Instructor, the youngest one on the airbase. His baby would be born while he was on combat duty and was nearly two years old when he finally was able to see him.
His initial combat mission required delivery of two tons of whole-blood, and nurses, to a just-captured airport outside of Paris, France. Choosing to ignore the order to return to base, he flew directly into “zero-zero” weather conditions, determined to accomplish his critical mission. He proved to be the only plane of 126 to complete the dangerous task, and he even returned with a flight loaded with critically wounded soldiers.
When a platoon of Patton’s tanks ran out of fuel, Harry was dispatched to the front line, without air or radar support, to deliver over 1,000 gallons of highly explosive gasoline before the Germans could exploit the situation. He was forced to spend a rainy and foggy night in a foxhole. In the middle of the night, the clouds and fog briefly broke, revealing the heavens above and resulting in Harry’s first-ever conversation with God, a conversation he later put into writing and is included in the book. Shortly after daybreak, he came face-to-face with a German Mark IV tank accompanied by 800 German infantry and assorted other tanks and artillery. He survived to describe what it was like to stare directly down the barrel of a Mark IV Panzer.
He was later tasked to lead five planes to the front line and effect an emergency evacuation of a field hospital as it came under direct attack by elements of the “SS” and the Luftwaffe. There were significant losses during the evacuation, but, yet again, Harry survived.
Throughout his wartime experiences, including five “Market Garden” missions, he witnessed death, both at a distance and up-close. His wartime experience grayed his hair and instilled within him a new-found belief there must be a God. He witnessed the deaths of scores of men, many of whom were friends, yet, somehow, he seemed to know where to guide his plane, while others around him perished.
During my interview process, I spent many long weekends with Harry and his wife, Donna. In addition to documenting his WW II experiences, I witnessed first hand the importance of God and religion in their lives and drove them to Sunday service.
Primary: Males and Females aged 14 and up. This book will appeal to the Christian reader as an adjunct market for the reason the subject discovers God has been flying with him, as witnessed by a bystander. The topic is ancillary, but yet an integral part of the man and his story. This work is suitable for the ya audience and cross-marketing between mass appeal and Christian book stores and outlets.
Secondary: Book clubs and public, state, university libraries, and the United States National Archives
Tertiary: Lovers of history, readers of military history magazines, people who derive personal inspiration from true stories of persons who discovered God under the most trying of circumstances and, once the danger passed, didn’t walk away from their new-found faith.
Author’s Note: I write nonfiction books and magazine stories as well as a mystery/thriller series. This story developed over an extended period and many meetings. As Harry became more trusting, he began including some of his personal religious experiences, though he did not grow into a spiritual man per se until later in life. I included references to God only after he consistently talked about them within consistent time frames and recollections. Eventually, I realized this would be appropriate for marketing to the Christian book market.
“Some savvy screenplay writer will inevitably snag the rights to this one. The comic relief is already built into the suspense-driven plot. The story is just the right size for a movie in an industry struggling to break-away from comic book heroes into the genuine article.” Reviewed By: Casey Quyn,Manhattan Book Review of LEFT FOR DEAD AT NIJMEGEN.
Gene quit high school to join the paratroopers only to find himself wedged between machine-gun toting “SS” fanatics while being interrogated by the notorious Nazi Heinrich Himmler. Possible titles: Dinner with Himmler or Left for Dead in Holland.
“Told in the matter-of-fact tone of a college essay, the book is a page turner, full of coincidences, narrow escapes, and tension worthy of a Hollywood film. Left for Dead at Nijmegen is well worth the read.” Paul Garrett for Reedsy Discovery
“I have written a lot of stories in my life, but after my first 5.5 hour interview with paratrooper Gene Metcalfe, I knew there was something special there.” Marcus Nannini
“Gene Metcalfe’s detailed recollections are supplemented with photographs. This is an important biography worthy of inclusion in World War II themed collections. The book portrays military sacrifices and the reality of the struggle of a POW as reported by a survivor.” AuthorsReading.com 5 star review.
From the Coal Mines of Pennsylvania to the explosive skies over Nazi Occupied Europe.Title: Midnight Flight to Nuremberg.
A Japanese ensign sinks the battleship Oklahoma, scuttles his sub and melds into the Oahu population never to be heard from again…until the surprise unearthing of a skeleton.Title: Nine Men Down.
Gruesome murders on the Big Island of Hawaii divert the attention of Navy investigators while plans for a December 7th terrorist attack on the super carrier USS Abraham Lincoln go undetected. Geographic Treachery, the Shah’s Revenge.
Email me here: MarcusNannini@aol.com
The Highly Respected MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW says: “LEFT FOR DEAD AT NIJMEGEN: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PARATROOPER IN WORLD WAR II is an extraordinary and simply riveting memoir that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly valued addition to both community and academic library World War II Military History & Biography collections.“
“It’s not every day that we come across a historical work with as much life in it as we see in LEFT FOR DEAD AT NIJMEGEN: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PARATROOPER IN WWII. The level of research and attention to detail that went into the retelling of Eugene Metcalfe’s harrowing tale of survival is shown in spades. The reader has no problem understanding not only the physical situations faced by the main character but also the emotions and state of mind.Literary Titan.
“THERE ARE MANY STORIES ABOUT THE AMERICAN AIRBORNE IN MARKET GARDEN; GENE’S STORY IS UNIQUE AND SIGNIFICANT.” World War II History Magazine.
“VERY RIVETING” Herbert Bauernebel, American Correspondent for the German periodicals BILD and AMERIKAREPORT.
“NANNINI DUTIFULLY CONSTRUCTS IMAGES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE POW CAMPS THAT HIS SUBJECT WAS FORCED INTO THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN. THIS WORK, THEREFORE, IS AS IMPORTANT TO HISTORICAL STUDY OF THE PERIOD AS IT IS A RIVETING AND FASCINATING TALE.” LITERARY TITAN, JULY 12, 2019.https://literarytitan.com/2019/07/12/left-for-dead-at-nijmegen/
“THE AUTHOR HAS RESEARCHED AND STUDIED THIS SUBJECT IN GREAT DEPTH, HIS KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITY TO ENGAGE AND KEEP THE INTEREST OF THE READER IS ACCOMPLISHED AND PROFICIENT. Army Rumour Service, 20/06/2019 (United Kingdom)
“DEAR MR. NANNINI, I’VE JUST READ YOUR BOOK “LEFT FOR DEAD AT NIJMEGEN”. THE STORY OF GENE METCALFE IS REALLY AMAZING AND BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN. I SALUTE YOU FOR KEEPING HIS BRAVE HISTORY ALIVE!YOURS SINCERELY,HARRY HEKMAN, LIEUTENANT COLONEL , ROYAL MILITARY POLICE (KONINKLIJKE MARECHAUSSEE)THE NETHERLANDS “
“MARCUS, I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THE BOOK. IT’S PERHAPS ONE OF THE BEST MEMOIRS I’VE READ.” Angus Wallace, WW II PODCAST, United Kingdom
“THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BIOGRAPHY WORTHY OF INCLUSION IN WORLD WAR II THEMED COLLECTIONS.” AuthorsReading
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW-JUNE, 2019.
Left for Dead at Nijmegen Marcus A. Nannini Casemate Publishers 1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083 http://www.casematepublishers.com ISBN-13:978-1-61200-696-3, $32.95, HC, 256 pages
Critique: “Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II” is an extraordinary and simply riveting memoir that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly valued addition to both community and academic library World War II Military History & Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that “Left for Dead at Nijmegen” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.95).
Synopsis: “Left for Dead at Nijmegen” vividly recalls the larger-than-life experiences of an American paratrooper, Gene Metcalfe, who served in the 82nd Airborne during WWII.
This personal military memoir covers his recruitment into the military at Camp Grant to his training with the 501st Paratroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa. It wasn’t until D-Day itself that he first arrived in England to join the 508th PIR.
When Metcalfe boarded the C-47 which would drop him at Groesbeek Heights, just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, he was handed a box of twelve dozen condoms by an overconfident British lieutenant. He was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by three German antiaircraft cannon emplacements.
As he jumped into a hail of bullets and exploding shells he watched his plane roll over and plummet into the ground. It was at that moment he realized the condoms had either been a bad joke or the planners of Operation Market Garden had seriously underestimated German resistance. Gene was listed as KIA and left for dead by his patrol, who presumed the worst when they saw his injuries from a shell explosion.
The rest of his story is equally gripping, as he became a POW held outside Munich, being moved between various camps ridden with disease and a severely undernourished population. Eventually, after making an escape attempt and being captured within sight of the snow-capped Swiss mountains, his camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite
“Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper is a nonfiction biography written by Marcus A. Nannini, who spent several years interviewing Gene Metcalfe, who was determined to become a paratrooper, enlisted and was part of Operation Market Garden, a paratrooper landing in Nijmegen, Holland. It was his first foray into the field of battle, the culmination of years of training in every aspect of the paratrooper’s skills in war-craft. Operation Market Garden was, from the outset, a poorly timed and executed operation, one for which the Germans almost seemed to have advance notice. For Metcalf, his inability to hear the order to retreat resulted in an injury that led one of his comrades to believe he was dead. While he was stunned and rendered unconscious for a while, Metcalf was indeed not dead. Over the next 24 hours, he would be imprisoned in a strange castle-like building and interviewed by Heinrich Himmler himself. Thereafter, until the war ended, he would languish in a series of gulags wherein Allied soldiers were deprived of food, forced into hard labor and doomed to die slow and agonizing deaths.”
“Left for Dead at Nijmegen is a stunning and beautifully written recounting of Gene Metcalfe’s experiences beginning with his life-changing decision to quit school and enlist to become aparatrooper. While the story is written by Nannini, I consistently felt Metcalfe’s presence within the telling, and the photographs included in the book increase the impact and credibility of Metcalfe’s story. I enjoyed seeing the young soldier through the author’s eyes, especially his artistic and humorous side, and I loved the stories of how he would get in trouble in school and boot camp for his cartoons. I was thrilled to see a few of his drawings were included in the back of the book and couldn’t help but chuckle at the one entitled ‘das brot.'”
“What struck me most vividly, however, was the brutal truth behind the treatment of those prisoners of war in the German gulags. While most of us think the Geneva Convention ensured that somewhat tolerable conditions for prisoners was the rule, this book shows how soldiers held by the Germans were often literally starved and worked to death. As I read, I couldn’t help but remember the photographs I’ve seen showing the condition of surviving prisoners of war taken when US troops entered the gulags and death camps of Germany. Those images and Metcalfe’s story paint an unforgettable picture of the suffering and privation inflicted in those camps. Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper is an important work, one that exemplifies the sacrifices made by our military and reveals the reality of the POWs’ struggle to survive under the harshest of situations. It’s most highly recommended.“
Book review by Donna Ford for AMERICAN REVIEW OF BOOKS.
“. . . standing in line waiting his turn to board the C-47 transport which would drop him into Holland in the first wave of Operation Market Garden.”
Gene Metcalfe was a fit and willing 20-year-old who finally achieved his goal of parachuting behind enemy lines. Days after the 1944 Normandy invasion, his 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment parachuted onto the European continent behind enemy lines in Holland. Their assignment was to capture the bridge leading into the city of Nijmegen. They were led to expect that no seasoned German soldiers would be there to meet them. Quickly, the unit figured out that these were not elderly men and kids manning the tanks and firepower. A blast that erupted near Metcalfe tossed him into the air; the slam to earth caused bleeding from his ear and rendered him unconscious. His best friend considered him dead and fell back with other unit members.
Metcalfe awoke slowly and disoriented. He was taken captive by the Germans and brought to meet a superior German officer who likely was Himmler. The Germans questioned him to learn about his regiment’s plans and also to determine whether he was Jewish. Metcalfe answered all questions humorously, even saying he was a farmer before the war. This lie likely saved his life after he was taken prisoner and assigned to Stalag VII-A, a prisoner of war camp in Germany.
Years later, the book’s content was told by Metcalfe to Nannini, who has done a first-rate job of writing and editing the book for publication. The author combined Metcalfe’s memories with documented research about the events and treatment of German prisoners. Metcalfe’s story is also verified by his personal artwork/sketches that he managed to bring back after the war ended. This 229-paged memoir documents conditions endured during WW II by captured prisoners. Some events are difficult to read about, but Nannini has described these eye-opening facts without dwelling on the horrors. Donna Ford for US Review of Books.
Gene quit high school to join the paratroopers only to find himself wedged between machine-gun toting “SS” fanatics while being interrogated by the notorious Nazi Heinrich Himmler.
“Told in the matter-of-fact tone of a college essay, the book is a page turner, full of coincidences, narrow escapes, and tension worthy of a Hollywood film. Left for Dead at Nijmegen is well worth the read.”Paul Garrett for Reedsy Discovery
“Some savvy screenplay writer will inevitably snag the rights to this one. The comic relief is already built into the suspense-driven plot. The story is just the right size for a movie in an industry struggling to break-away from comic book heroes into the genuine article.”Reviewed By: Casey Quyn, Manhattan Book Review of LEFT FOR DEAD AT NIJMEGEN.
“Gene Metcalfe’s detailed recollections are supplemented with photographs. This is an important biography worthy of inclusion in World War II themed collections. The book portrays military sacrifices and the reality of the struggle of POW as reported by a survivor.” AuthorsReading.com 5 star review.
Gene quit high school to join the paratroopers only to find himself wedged between machine-gun toting “SS” fanatics while being interrogated by the notorious Nazi Heinrich Himmler.