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Masters of the Air

America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
Length: 25 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)
Regular price: £32.89
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Summary

This is the dramatic story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, this is a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air no warriors had encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force Band. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943 an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the US Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors. Actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, as was “King of Hollywood” Clark Gable. The air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Strategic bombing did not win the war, but the war could not have been won without it. American airpower destroyed the rail facilities and oil refineries that supplied the German war machine. The bombing campaign was a shared enterprise: The British bombed at night while American bombers attacked by day - a technique that British commanders thought was suicidal.

Drawn from interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, this is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world’s first and only bomber war.

©2006 Donald L. Miller (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

Masters of the Air is a stunning achievement. The compound effect of the book’s narrative vitality and attention to human detail is terrific in all the meanings of the word - terrifying, extraordinary, highly admirable. What a story it is!” (David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Allan
  • Plymouth, United Kingdom
  • 01-02-12

Masters of The Air

You have just got to listen to this audio book. It demonstartes just what was involved with the USAAF and their bombing missions over the Third Reich. The battles that were going daily, during day time, with the American bomber crews against the Luftwaffe and the numerous flak batteries. Is described in authentic detail. It beggers belief that these men were destined to do their bombing missions in daylight. Especially when the RAF got slaughtered when they tried it. However, keeping those USAAF bombers doing their missions created other battles on the ground for their High Command. As the pressure from the USA on the horrendous losses caused their own problems in justifying a continuation of the bombing. Achieving that aim in itself is eye opening, and sometimes surprising. All the problems that the bomber crews of the USAAF suffered at heavy cost of life and aircraft are mentioned in full. So to support the bombing missions the USAAF High Command had to fight a war on two fronts. One on the ETO and the other on The Home Front where the dollars, bombers and aircrew come from. The stories told of these men during their bombing missions leaves not much to the imagination. Their bravery is unquestionable and undeniable. Listen to the events as they unfold. Some of them will surprise you with what was actually involved with the wheeling and dealings that went on behind the closed doors in High Command. Leaving the bomber crews to carry out those decisions made without any say in the matter. That was war. That was the bombers war. Though which is the more difficult?. Bombing during daylight where you can see and be seen. Or bombing at night. Where one can not see but can still be seen? Especially over the lit target area. Either way. This audio puts to rights what actually went on with what the men of the USAAF bomber crews had to endure and live with on a daily basis. Yet somehow.....try and come to terms with what their lost innocense had witnessed and experienced.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Quite interesting <br />

Great listen for the first 20 hours but gets a little boring towards the end.

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Leaves no stone unturned

Very comprehensive account of the mighty 8th. Narration is excellent and it gives you a stark impression of events. The chronology slowly moves forward in the main and it gives a very good account of additional stories such as POW camps, a fate to befall so many flyers. The mixed position of the Swiss is something one never hears about and was a real eye opener. It covers so many personal accounts from the physical flying and targeting to the antics of crew seeking horizontal refreshment in the back streets of London. I'm inclined to say this must be the most authoritative text on the subject as a whole. 25 hours later and I felt like I'd been on a great journey of discovery. Not an easygoing listen but a vital source of information for anyone serious about understanding the events. Highly recommended.

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Excellent!

Very good book, mix of historical fact and entertaining anecdotes. Was very unbiased is describing both sides of the air war.

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Outstanding account

Incredible detail covering a very wide aspect of this little known story of great courage and endurance.

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Looking fwd to the Hanks/Spielberg production

So good I had to buy the Hardback. This is a weighty subject - there's really too much to fully absorb on the commute to work and back, but it's very good and well read too.

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  • Swapcat
  • Bradford, United Kingdom
  • 22-01-14

Epic account of life and death above the 3rd Reich

If you could sum up Masters of the Air in three words, what would they be?

Truth, blood, and bravery.

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

If only that were possible... a big book.

Any additional comments?

The most concise account of the US bomber campaign in WW2 europe I have ever encountered. Simply epic.

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Very Informative and Better than Expected

If you could sum up Masters of the Air in three words, what would they be?

Informative, Compelling, Touching

What did you like best about this story?

It was well structured and packed with information.

What does Robertson Dean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

An American accent

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

Its too big for a single sitting. Its not a story and best listened too in chunks so that you can reflect on the content.