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“Quite simply, lightning in a bottle.”

– Retired U.S. Brigadier General

 


Lt. Lilia Litvak (1921-1943), 268 missions, 15 solo kills, 22 assists

About ten years ago, I accidentally met a determined and beautiful young lady named Lilia Litvyak, who was in fact the world’s first female fighter-pilot. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became that a teenager could accomplish such unimaginable feats in the Soviet male-dominated society.

I also realized because Lilia was Russian and perished in aerial combat some 70 years prior, would most of the world might never be know the details of her friendships, her loves, and the times in which she lived.

My first thought was write a work of historical fiction based on Lilia’s life. But, fate had other plans. During the next few years, I took four trips to Russia and far-off Eastern Ukraine to collect and construct the pieces of her puzzle. It was during those trips, I struck gold!

I met and agreed to collaborate with THE one women in the world, Valentina Vaschenko, who had spent their adult lifetime befriending Lilia’s family and friends. Amazingly, Valentina also had collected and catalogued virtually every Lilia photograph, drawing, and memorabilia in existence and put them on display in the modest Lilia Litvyak museum in Krasny Luch. During the time I lived and worked in Krasny, I also discovered the citizens had erected multiple monuments and a school in Lilia’s name.

Two years later our work was done. We had created and published Call Sign, White Lily, which to my amazement is now available in a fifth, enlarged edition. (The title was Valentina’s suggestion. “White Lily” was Lilia Litvyak’s actual radio call sign).

As it has turned out, completing Call Sign, White Lily was only the beginning. Russian and American media, government officials, book clubs, and museums, were fascinated that an American, with no Russian ancestry, would write what is now the penultimate book about this unique young lady.

During the last five years, I’ve been invited to speak about the making of the book and my experiences in all sorts of cool places including the U.S. Embassy and the American Center for Democracy in Moscow, the United Nations, and Russian, Ukrainian and American cultural centers domestically and internationally.


Lilia visits the United Nations in New York

Along my road less traveled, I’ve met many interesting and worldly folks, including the U.S. Defense attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow, who felt Call Sign, White Lily had the potential to create an increased mutual understanding and trust between America and Russia. He called my book, “Lighting in a Bottle.”


Lilia visits American Center for Democracy in Moscow

Given all the anti-everything media rhetoric, I would be honored if you took the time to read about Lilia, her world, and her life. And, I’d love to hear what you think. Because maybe together we can make the world just a little bit better.

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