The very young men who flew the B24s over Germany in World War II against terrible odds were an exemplary band of brothers. In The Wild Blue, Stephen Ambrose recounts their extraordinary brand of heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship.
Ambrose describes how the Army Air Forces recruited, trained, and chose those few who would undertake the most demanding and dangerous jobs in the war. These are the boys - turned pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and gunners of the B24s - who suffered over 50 percent casualties.
Ambrose carries us along in the crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous B24s as their crews fought to the death through thick, black, deadly flak to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine or else went down in flames. Twenty-two-year-old George McGovern, who was to become a United States senator and a presidential candidate, flew 35 combat missions (all the Army would allow) and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. We meet him and his mates, his co-pilot killed in action, and crews of other planes - many of whom did not come back.
As Band of Brothers and Citizen Soldiers portrayed the bravery and ultimate victory of the American soldier from Normandy on to Germany, The Wild Blue makes clear the contribution these young men of the Army Air Forces stationed in Italy made to the Allied victory.
©2001 Stephen E. Ambrose (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"Brilliant.... It is a terrific story." (Larry King, USA Today)
"The Wild Blue is right on target...[the book] finally gives those men of the 15th Air Force the tribute they so richly earned." (The Dallas Morning News)
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I am a retired Army Aviator...this book brought back many memories for me. Written with great insight. The reader is excellent
As a political conservative I was somewhat concerned about the book's central figure, George McGovern and the direction the book might go. However, my brother-in-law was also a B24 pilot based in England during WW2 and since he, like most veterans, spoke little of their war experiences and I was curious to learn more about what they went through.
I now think this book should be required reading in all high school history. Today we have no idea of what the "Greatest Generation" went through and gave so that we can enjoy the freedoms and blessings we take for granted today.
One of the best books about war and air combat. Puts you right there in the pilot's seat on many bomb runs.
"Dad was a B-24 pilot"
This made me appreciate what my father accomplished by becoming a pilot. He had not finished high school when he signed up. He doesn't talk about his experiences and I am hoping I will get him to tell me more about his experiences by gaining background information from this book. He was shot down on his 23rd mission and was to go home after 25. He set his bomber down in a field that turned out to be in Switzerland. His entire crew returned to the US and had reunions until a few years ago when most were too elderly to travel. Dad is 88 and still going strong.
There were several moments in the book that moved me. Relating the stories of the many reasons why the men didn't get to return home. The extreme cold and discomfort the men had to live with while in the plane. The heart stopping stories of having to fly through flack. How young many of the pilots were. The empty bunks.
"OK book, not great"
Interesting tidbits, but not a gripping story. Would've liked more page-turning adventures, anecdotes, events. Essentially a recap of George McGovern's stint as a USAF bomber pilot.
I have to admit to being a little skeptical since the author claimed to be close friends with McGovern, the protagonist of the story and so there has to have been some needed objectivity lost. But the overall story isn't controversial by nature so I guess that's okay. If McGovern had made any serious blunders as a pilot or an officer, it would have surely come out before this book was ever written considering his political career.
The story developed well and I liked the background on each character and getting a look at their training, etc.
The narrator has a fine voice, and good cadence but I didn't think it really fit this book very well, but I suppose that's going to be subjective to each listener. (Just click on the audio sample to judge for yourself.)
"No Excitement Here"
I have read several of Stephen Ambrose books and I would say this is the worst. There was no drama, I only listened on to hear some great tale. They flew they dropped their bombs and some returned, that sums it up. It was nice to hear about the Tuskeegee airman supplying bomber support, but all in all this was dry.
"Dropped from cliche heaven, most bombs missed."
Just a snicker above boring. Passable as a testimonial to his old friend George but otherwise wouldn't inspire a B rated war movie.
"Ambrose Impresses again"
Entertaining, Inspirational, Educational
This is a great read that makes you laugh and cry. It puts you in the B-24 in many different missions and lets you feel what the crew felt.
I love reading Stephen Ambrose. I have read most of his books, and have yet to be disappointed. My favorite by him was Undaunted Courage, but Citizen Soldiers was a close second.
"Basically: Biography of George McGovern's Service"
This book had it moments, but it just did not captivate me as I had expected.
This is not one of Ambrose's best efforts in my humble opinion. He personally must have been fascinated by McGovern's military service-- and it comes across that way. A "nice" biography and some important insights into the sacrifices of the men who flew bombers in WWII. They are all heroes. Given the material, I think the author certainly could have done a more heroic job of writing about them.
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