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Amplifying New Voices in



YA & Poetry

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Meet John Armbruster!


John has taught American history and government at the middle and high school level for twenty-nine years. Before becoming a teacher, he wrote for public radio and newspapers after graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He lives on a small farm outside of Viroqua, Wisconsin, in the heart of the Driftless Region.

About Tailspin:

World War II tail gunner Gene Moran fell four miles through the sky without a parachute and lived. Captured by the Germans, he survived a harrowing eighteen months as a prisoner of war, including a six-hundred-mile death march in 1945 across Central Europe.


When Gene returned home, he kept those memories locked up for nearly seventy years. His nine children knew little of their dad’s war story. But when John, a young history teacher, learns of Gene’s amazing fall, he’s desperate to learn more. Finally, Gene agrees.


So begins a series of “Thursdays with Gene” interviews. Gene, nearing his ninetieth birthday, recounts incredible tales. But John has no idea what wounds he’s reopening. Gene’s nightmares and grief return. But both men persevere, bonded by their close and growing friendship.


As the interviews go on, John faces an ordeal of his own. His wife is fighting brain cancer. What will happen to his wife and his two young children? John must continue uncovering Gene’s story of survival as he himself confronts the greatest trial of his life.


Tailspin is more than a war story. It’s a story of two men’s separate journeys confronting trauma and loss. It’s a story of resilience and hope.


Check out John's interview on WPR here!


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Waukesha, WI 53186

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