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Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany | [Donald L. Miller]

Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany

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 twenty-five thousand 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.
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Publisher's 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.

What the Critics Say

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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Olaf Jakarta, Indonesia 01-05-12
    Olaf Jakarta, Indonesia 01-05-12

    German by birth - cosmopolitan by conviction. A CFO enjoying dynamic and multicultural Asia. Classic car and history buff and scuba diver.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Facts and Emotions Masterfully Combined"

    A book about war does not have to be either military history or record of human experiences but can be a combination of both if skillfully written for the knowledge and heart sections. This book is a very good example for this. It would not be the right book for somebody beginning to learn about World War II but if good overall knowledge of the war is given, the book provides deep insights into this very special theater of war in Europe. Even though I have read many, many books about the war I have found quite a bit of facts which were completely new to me. The individual histories of the fliers going through this ordeal are told with great tact, respect and without nationalism - just as it has to be. Highly recommended.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Louisville, KY, United States 02-19-12
    Michael Louisville, KY, United States 02-19-12 Member Since 2010
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    "An excellent, comprehensive history"
    Where does Masters of the Air rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among those books dedicated to telling the story of the European air war, and notably that based in England, this is one of the best. It is comprehensive, well written, well narrated, and it artfully and engagingly stitches together strategy, personal stories, and tactical events. The mix of German and British and American story lines is superb.


    What other book might you compare Masters of the Air to and why?

    The telling of the personal stories reminds me of Ambrose's talent for doing so. James Hornfischer's


    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Youngstown, OH, United States 08-06-12
    Robert Youngstown, OH, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Heros"
    Where does Masters of the Air rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    My father only answered my direct questions about the war. He was a belly gunner on a B-17. This book answeres many unasked questions. This is by far the most detailed account of why dad's hands shook every day after the war.


    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Scott McClanahan Houston, TX United States 11-07-12
    Andrew Scott McClanahan Houston, TX United States 11-07-12 Member Since 2012

    I've lived in Austin, Texas, for over 10 years, not Houston. World War II is my lifelong interest since my father was a combat veteran in the 8th Air Force. I grew up with pilots, bombardiers, and navigators. They told me many stories of their experiences and I cannot get enough of books and documentaries.

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    "The Mighty Eighth story is told in full"
    What did you love best about Masters of the Air?

    This is a long book with many details. There are so many stories. If just one book about the Mighty Eighth is bought, this is definitely the one.


    What other book might you compare Masters of the Air to and why?

    The Wild Blue


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A Sacrifice for Their Country Beyond Imagination


    Any additional comments?

    There is one sentence in this book that made a great impression on me:

    "Mass education made the 8th Air Force."

    Our nation's public education system before the war created so many quality Air Corp officers, America completely overwhelmed the Luftwaffe.

    The air battles over Europe defy comprehension. This book expands that impression an order of magnitude.

    I will listen to it again.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Greene CHATTANOOGA, TN, United States 07-29-12
    Dan Greene CHATTANOOGA, TN, United States 07-29-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent: The classic bomber campaign of the 8th"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes - great stories, good insight into the phases of the bomber campaign.


    Any additional comments?

    Thoroughly enjoyed the detailed look at the bomber campaign.Explores the details of the B-17s mainly and the roller coaster ride they had from 1942 to 1945. Details include targeting strategies, crew experience, Luftwaffe strategies and coverage of the Fw-190 vs B-17 war plus lots of other details and little known facets of the bomber experience. A must read for someone wanting a good understanding of the European Air War in WW2.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard SWAMPSCOTT, MA, United States 10-01-12
    Richard SWAMPSCOTT, MA, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2011
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    "From Start to Finish in Europe"

    This is a great day to day complete story of the air war in Europe. A chronicle of the behind the scenes politics and maneuverings. The double strategies the Allies fought, The crews life and death struggle, that broke some, and tested all.
    London and the fly boys. A good description of the British thoughts of the American fly boys, and the Americans experiences with the British people.
    A great book that puts you in the ERA along with all the peoples involved. Even the enemies.
    I listened night after night. Happily, it's a long book. I highly recommend "MASTERS of the AIR" to WW ll buffs or anyone who like to read books of life in the 1940's.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noel Peregian Beach, Australia 11-02-12
    Noel Peregian Beach, Australia 11-02-12 Member Since 2007
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    "One of the best war books I have listened to."
    Where does Masters of the Air rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    As a 2nd world war narrative it rates as among the best


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Masters of the Air?

    The real story about how the airmen and their doctors dealt with the chaos of their experiences going from sitting around to being in the air with the enemy guns and planes attacking them


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the story about the 32 year old airman who was a rough diamond but was able to put the fire out in the plan, rescue his mate and also still keep shooting the guns


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Endurance, strength and falability make the man


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Albuquerque, NM, United States 08-19-12
    James Albuquerque, NM, United States 08-19-12 Member Since 2009
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    "A little more than expected."

    Narrated by Robertson Dean, he did great justice to the story bringing his usual expert retelling of aerial combat to life.This book did just one thing I hadn't expected, and that is to really tell me more about what the bombing of Germany was like from the ground and how much I really never learned about Switzerland (so called neutral) and other countries. A fine read, excellent detail, great narration. So much so that I'm now delving into more historical detail of where the war got started and how it really came to an end. Enjoy!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brady Texas 07-28-13
    Brady Texas 07-28-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Excellent Story"
    What made the experience of listening to Masters of the Air the most enjoyable?

    I thought the book did a wonderful job mixing the stories of the men in the planes with the political and strategic parts of the book. This made for a well rounded story which really gave the listener a full picture of the war.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Masters of the Air?

    The descriptions of what took place inside the planes in the skies over Europe are absolutely riveting.


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

    I thought that the narrator did a wonderful job. Often times the narrators for history books can be dry and, to be frank, rather dull. Mr. Dean did a magnificent job. The book flows very well and so it really felt like I was listening to someone describe the events rather than reading from a book.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 04-25-13
    David Houston, TX, United States 04-25-13 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Omelet with everything"

    The thing you should probably know before using a credit on this book is that the title is a bit misleading. While substantial portions of this very long survey of the Allied air war against Germany are devoted to telling the stories of individuals and the missions they flew (and even of their experiences as POW's), Miller's dominant objective seems to be the parsing of the air campaign from every possible viewpoint: economic, strategic, moral, political, social, strategic and tactical. Also, it is principally the story of the 8th Air Force operating out of England, so while it's treatment of that unit is comprehensive, it has little to say about other U.S. bomber commands in the European theatre.

    Miller writes clearly and the book is read very competently, but I found my interest sagging as the narrative followed a kind of oscillating formula: detailing political maneuverings, analyzing matters of strategy, describing the planning and execution of a particular operation, and then zooming in for closeups of the action as it affected individual units and crews. Then the process would begin all over again with the next phase of the campaign.

    That said, I certainly know a GREAT deal more about the air war in Europe than I did when I began the book. At times Miller also succeeds in powerfully communicating the emotional landscape of the struggle. While the flyers periodically take a back seat to the generals and the politicians, there is enough here to engrave their exploits in every reader's mind. And the questions he raises about the choices the U.S. and England made in regard to "civilian" vs. "military" targets are unsettling and painfully timely in today's world. I guess I just think all of it would have been more effective if it were not presented in a single omelet which was trying to use up all the tasty things in the fridge in one dish.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 25 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Allan
    Plymouth, United Kingdom
    2/1/12
    Overall
    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Bradford, United Kingdom
    1/22/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • K. P. Clark
    UK
    11/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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