The Burning Sky

Written by Jack Ludlow
Review by Nancy Henshaw

In 1935, Mussolini’s “need to colonise” is directed at Abyssinia, where an ancient way of life faces an obliterating build-up of military might. The world’s great nations wait, cautious and uncommitted.

Callum Jardine knows war from 1914-1918. In Romania, he has initiated an urgent, dangerous plan – a consignment of the most modern weapons, large enough to give the Abyssinians a chance if it can reach them in time. All his experience and quick wit is needed to bring his illegal cargo, by train and by ship, to British Somalia and onward by camel train. Cal’s trusted and enterprising companion, Vince Castellano, cockney-Italian ex-boxer, is augmented by two Americans: journalist Tyler Alverson, hoping to report a war, and Miss Corrie Littleton, looking for her missing mother who gives the snappy young lady an excuse to join the men in their journey to Aksum. The occasional presence of air ace Henri de Billancourt, heroic and courteous, annoys Cal but he can’t resist the thrilling new experience of aeronautics.

This fictional story with its background of a little-remembered war builds up from pure adventure with excitement and daring all the way. Cal seems indestructible. But the day-long battle that settles the fate of Abyssinia is a devastatingly grim and detailed demonstration of the truth of warfare.