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.
“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)
German by birth - cosmopolitan by conviction. A CFO enjoying dynamic and multicultural Asia. Classic car and history buff and scuba diver.
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.
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.
The telling of the personal stories reminds me of Ambrose's talent for doing so. James Hornfischer's
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.
Yes - great stories, good insight into the phases of the bomber campaign.
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.
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.
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.
The Wild Blue
A Sacrifice for Their Country Beyond Imagination
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.
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.
Actor/director/teacher. Live most of the time in Beijing now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
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.
As a 2nd world war narrative it rates as among the best
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
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
Endurance, strength and falability make the man
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!
Non Fiction Reader
This is an exhaustive history focused entirely on the 8th Air Force during World War II. At times it is exhausting reading. The airmen's stories become intensely personal and many, too many, were consigned to early deaths. Miller goes beyond the statistics in attempting to answer why/how does someone who knows the odds are against him (and his crewmates) from returning home climb into an airplane to bomb Germany and fight off the Luftwaffe. The answer lies in thier willingness to do their duty in the most prosaic way. They simply did their jobs without glory-seeking and lived from day to day. There is no attempt to burnish anyone's image. Miller treats straigtforwardly the lack of a long-range fighter escort and the resulting deaths caused by set minds on outmoded doctirnes and the inability for the top brass to have their minds' changed by the reality on the ground and in the air.
I think the book will be more attractive to those interested in World War II. The author makes some basic assumptions: The reader knows something about European geography, war planes nomenclature and the general progress of the war as it moved from west to east. I recommend it highly. One of the better reads so far (March) this year.
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