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  • Indestructible

  • One Man's Rescue Mission That Changed the Course of WWII
  • By: John R. Bruning
  • Narrated by: Brian Troxell
  • Length: 17 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

In this remarkable WWII story by New York Times best-selling author John R. Bruning, a renegade American pilot fights against all odds to rescue his family - imprisoned by the Japanese - and revolutionizes modern warfare along the way.

From the knife fights and smuggling runs of his youth to his fiery days as a pioneering naval aviator, Paul Irving "Pappy" Gunn played by his own set of rules and always survived on his wits and fists. But when he fell for a conservative Southern belle, her love transformed him from a wild and reckless airman to a cunning entrepreneur whose homespun engineering brilliance helped launch one of the first airlines in Asia.

Pappy was drafted into MacArthur's air force when war came to the Philippines; and while he carried out a top-secret mission to Australia, the Japanese seized his family. Separated from his beloved wife, Polly, and their four children, Pappy reverted to his lawless ways. He carried out rescue missions with an almost suicidal desperation. Even after he was shot down twice and forced to withdraw to Australia, he waged a one-man war against his many enemies - including the American high command and the Japanese - and fought to return to the Philippines to find his family.

Without adequate planes, supplies, or tactics, the US Army Air Force suffered crushing defeats by the Japanese in the Pacific. Over the course of his three-year quest to find his family, Pappy became the renegade who changed all that. With a brace of pistols and small band of loyal followers, he robbed supply dumps, stole aircraft, invented new weapons, and modified bombers to hit harder, fly farther, and deliver more destruction than anything yet seen in the air. When Pappy's modified planes were finally unleashed during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, the United States scored one of the most decisive victories of World War II.

Taking listeners from the blistering skies of the Pacific to the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines to one of the the war's most notorious prison camps, Indestructible traces one man's bare-knuckle journey to free the people he loved and the aerial revolution he sparked that continues to resonate across America's modern battlefields.

©2016 John R. Bruning (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Set against the sprawling and violent Pacific War, Indestructible is the incredible story of one man's courage, tenacity and dogged fight to rescue his family caught behind enemy lines. The book left me with chills." (James M. Scott, author of Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor)
"This thriller-like narrative not only reveals the disturbing plight of courageous American families held in Japanese internment camps, but also delivers a gripping portrait of a uniquely American hero, Pappy Gunn, who fought two wars - one for his country and one to rescue his wife and children." (James Bradley, best-selling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, The Imperial Cruise, and The China Mirage)
"From the opening pages, Bruning grabs you by the collar and pulls you into the story, not letting go as he masterfully guides you through a part of World War II that is largely unknown. This is the work of a skilled wordsmith who knows how to tell a story." (Gregory A. Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500)

What listeners say about Indestructible

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  • JP
  • 03-06-18

Disappointing

This is probably a good story but from this narration it’s impossible to tell. The narrator sounds like he’s delivering a sombre speech and unfortunately I just couldn’t work through it. The story itself is intriguing but, it does leap about all over the place, easy listening it is not. Combined with the really awkward storytelling it’s a disappointing audiobook.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

I loved this book, second time listening just as good as the 1st time listening

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Profile Image for A. L. DeWitt
  • A. L. DeWitt
  • 15-11-16

You will love Pappy's story

Would you consider the audio edition of Indestructible to be better than the print version?

While the audio does not have the maps and other information, the story comes through loud and clear.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pappy Gunn dominated the story, as he should. It is his story. His feats of daring and airmanship are documented well in the story, and the author freely admits that what is myth and legend may be hard to separate from fact. But the story is simply riveting.

What does Brian Troxell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Brian was able to read the book without choking up, which I would have had trouble with. I had to dry my eyes more than once learning about the depredations that the Gunn family suffered in Santo Thomas. Having attended high school in the Philippines the setting was far more real to me than perhaps it would have been to other readers. Brian made the story come alive.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I had to ration this book, a few chapters every day, because otherwise I would have not gotten any work done over the week it took me to listen to the book. Bruning has done an exceptional job with this story, and I will be looking for other books from him because he is a master storyteller.

Any additional comments?

The best reason to get this book is to experience through the eyes of the author what real dedication and suffering look like. A man's allegiance to his orders at the cost of his own family, a family's willingness to hang together through an internment that cost them 40% of their body weight. It is good that the Battle of the Bismarck Sea comes earlier in the book than the full descriptions of the conditions at Santo Thomas. This book left me amazed that Japan could be forgiven after what it did to the innocents.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Blake
  • 03-04-18

Entertaining Yet a Bit Fanciful

This is an enjoyable read and the story of P.I. "Pappy" Gunn's activities in the Pacific during WWII is exiting. So now the critical part: The author concludes that no one person under the rank of general contributed more to the victory in the Pacific than Gunn did. If you're willing to accept that statement, and to get to the end of the book and not realize the title is completely misleading, you'll find no fault in this story or its reading. If however, you've heard of Lt. Cmdr. Wade McClusky, Cmdr. Joe Rochefort, Lt. Cmdr. Richard O'Kane or some other notable figures, and despite 30-plus years of reading military history on the Pacific theater never ran across the name of Pappy Gunn before, you might credit the author a bit of hyperbole. It’s the same hyperbole that takes great liberties with the definition of non-fiction. Sure, narrative non-fiction takes liberties with dialog and creating color, but there are passages in this book that are just pure fiction weaving together the bits of reality the author was able to piece together. This is not to say P.I. “Pappy” Gunn didn’t contribute to the war, and it’s not to say the author didn’t create a good story. It’s just that a package of salt should accompany this book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Nicole Piehl
  • 04-11-16

A gripping story of astounding human ability and endurance

The incredible drive and creativity of P. I. "Pappy" Gunn and the narrative of a modern thriller have been skillfully woven into a book that is impossible to put down. From the first page to the end note, it is a fascinating and compelling read. I recommend this book without reservation.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Lofstedt
  • 10-09-17

Struggled to finish it...

My impression of this book differs radically from most others.


This is a remarkable story, about a remarkable man……. written in remarkably dry, dragging prose. This, to me, was rather like sitting in a lecture, being inundated by tedious detail.  Despite a profound interest in aviation and the second world war, the book turned into a task to be completed, the author's style disguising a story otherwise engrossing. Audible’s reviews are mostly favorable so the question arises: I am one of the few who sees the emperor has no clothes? In support of my impression an extract Kirkus reviews reads as follows:


“... Bruning’s writing is workmanlike but never really smooth, and he sometimes neglects the larger context.”


Sorry, can't keep this one on my virtual bookshelf.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Nick
  • 15-02-19

It may or may not of happened?

You listen to an interesting part, then at the end of it he says, that may or may not of happened. apart from that quite interesting.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Birdshot
  • 25-06-18

Okay, he's perfect, just tell the story...

Good narration of a basically interesting story, but how many times do you have to explain what an extraordinary guy the hero is? It would have been a great book if a good editor had lopped about a third of it out. Too much drooling hero worshipping got in the way of telling the good story at the heart of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Pamela Newton
  • 08-06-17

Incredible man

What did you love best about Indestructible?

I'd never heard of Pappy Gunn even though I'm a great fan of WWII history. This is an amazing story about a man who never ever stopped going until the end. I thought some of the detail about the battles was a bit long and would have liked to have had a bit more information about his family. The book made me want to do more research into the life of P. I "Pappy" Gunn.

Who was your favorite character and why?

First off, Pappy and secondly Nathan, his son. Pappy because of this take charge character. He wasn't afraid to step in where he saw injustice or his way of dealing with those who tried to get through the war slacking off. I saw a clip of Nathan speaking to a group of school children. That really brought the book to life for me.

Which character – as performed by Brian Troxell – was your favorite?

He did well with each one, I thought.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was too long for that, but I finished it in 2 days.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Miller
  • 20-03-17

Biggest hero I never heard of!

I listen often and to varied books on history, some military some of people or events I admire or just captured my interest, I have never once in any books I've read or listened to heard of Pappy Gun, so glad I read the reviews and bought this one!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Pete Harrell
  • 22-12-16

A Masterpiece of Non-Fiction

Indestructible details the incredible true saga of P.I. Gunn and his family through WWII in the Philippines and SW Pacific. It provides incredible details of the exploits of Gunn as he works tirelessly to reinvent the Army Air Force while his captured family endure the privations suffered under the Japanese in occupied Manila. While most histories of the war in the Pacific focus on naval battles and naval aviation, Indestructible provides a treasure trove of well researched information on MacArthur's fledgling Air Force and the development of both aircraft and tactics by Gunn that became the basis of close air support doctrine still in use today. A fantastic listen by an excellent narrator, and a superlative text rich in technical details and without the errors that often infect aviation histories of WWII written by lesser lights. One of my top 10 listens ever.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jaymie Hatfield
  • 19-09-19

Very good read.

Definitely a tear jerker in the end. It is really an eye opener in WW2. Will read again

1 person found this helpful