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Publisher's Summary

On Thursday, October 14, 1943, 291 B-17 Flying Fortresses set out for a strategic bombing raid on the factories in Schweinfurt. 

Sixty of those planes never returned and 650 men were lost during the course of that mission. 

It was the greatest failure that the United States Air Force had ever suffered and became known as "Black Thursday".  

Martin Caidin's Black Thursday: The Story of the Schweinfurt Raid is a brilliant account of that day that should never be forgotten. 

This audiobook uncovers in thrilling detail the build-up to that fateful raid as the ground crew prepare the aircraft and the aviators are briefed on their mission ahead.  

By consulting with first-hand accounts and interviewing survivors Caidin's audiobook takes the listener to the heart of the action as the planes burst into battle in the skies above Western Europe.

©1960 Martin Caidin (P)2018 Tantor

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The Best Look at Bomb Groups of the 8th

Being the son of a radio operator in B-24s with the 467th Bomb Group (Heavy) stationed at Rackheath (http://www.montrealfood.com/mosecrew.html) in Kent, I naturally had more than a casual interest in this title.

Having heard and read many accounts about the notorious Schweinfurt attack (it's a misnomer to call something on this scale a "raid") I've never run across a detailed account of why things went so spectacularly badly on this one; I've only gotten through about a quarter way through this version but I'm compelled to review it nonetheless.

This is, without a doubt, the most gripping account of the inner workings of B-17 and B-24 operations that I've ever come across.

I must say, though, early on in the narrative (I guess I wasn't paying 100% attention) I suddenly realized that the narrator was describing a bombing raid on Schweinfurt, but running through it very quickly, from beginning to end, and I thought: "Wait a minute! He's giving it all away before the book has even started! How useless and annoying that he's basically just described the entire raid in just a few pages—what's he going to do, start again and then fill in the details?

I was greatly annoyed—it was like going to see a movie and then seeing an extremely detailed preview of the movie before the main feature.

I was about to start writing a letter to the editor (not really, but you know what I mean) when it gradually became clear that the raid that was being described had occurred the month BEFORE the infamous event that was the basis for the book.

Whew!

That said, and once I'd gotten over my shock, I realized that the book was going to proceed even more in detail than I'd possibly hoped, sparing not the smallest details and describing even the most arcane aspects of the whole macrocosm surround that fateful day: the war, the combatants, the locations, the underlying reasons for the raid and so on, in the most gratifying detail that anyone, especially the son of one of the soon-to-be participants (in 1943 my father must have been in training at Wendover or Westover—I can never remember which—and was not due to fly his first mission until some months after D-Day).

The narrative begins long before the actual day but then zeroes in on the raid itself with microscopic and loving details—the layout of the cockpit of the B-17, the arming of the bombs, the profuse sweating of the fliers underneath all their leather bombing gear (my father used to tell me how he would sneak cigarettes by pulling aside his oxygen mask at 22,000 feet. This is the sort of detail included in this narrative, that is missing by so many other less enjoyable descriptions).

One thing that is striking about this book is that it was apparently written in 1959 or 1960, and one of the notable participants of the Schweinfurt raid who had contributed to the book was still serving in the Air Force at the time of writing, flying in B-52s. Indeed, he was to perish shortly thereafter in a flying accident, according to the author).

So it is a book unencumbered by any modern references or neologisms, and thus is refreshingly mid-20th-century in its writing style and gravitas.

The narrator, too, is superb; what he lacks in pronunciation of German or French names of places or terms he more than makes up for in enunciation and a lack of the annoying "tics" that can be characteristic of some audiobook narrators (an unnatural emphasis between words that end and begin with "s," for example) or one mispronunciation (pronouncing "dour" to rhyme with "poor" inside of, correctly, with "shower') and other distracting (to me!) narration peccadilloes.

He reads in a pleasant, rich baritone with a regionless American accent and I wish that it were he behind *most* of the audiobooks I have listened to.

This is one of those audiobooks that you wish lasted for 60 hours, but it's definitely one that I will be glad to have in my permanent collection, to be re-listened to in the future for many, many years.

And even though I know the ending of this particular story, I'm anxious to get right back into the telling of it; I have maybe nine hours to go!



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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History Lesson

I read this book as a small boy on the 1960's and again on two occasions as a teenager. Now, listening to it as an older adult and retired military pilot, it gave me a greater appreciation of their sacrifices. Undoubtedly, the best book on the air war in Europe.

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Style

On the one hand books written back in the 50s and 60s are excellent in that they tell the story of what happened without the PC garbage we get today, there are no artificial race and gender quotas to hit, which is fantastic. On the other hand history books written in this era often are just kind of boring and filled and with tons of cliches - and this book fits both of those descriptions. I love history books, but this one, ugh, it's tough to get through mainly because of the writing style. It's not a text book style of book, so in that regard it's good, but it's so filled with cliches it seemingly pads out the book length by at least twice. Also I hate history books that make up dialog to tell the story - and this book does just that.

The content is interesting and a few times the story really comes together and moves well, but then it's back to cliche after cliche after cliche to paint, then repaint, then repaint the scene again and it comes to a halt.

I can not recommend this book at all - it's not terrible, I just wouldn't recommend it. The glowing reviews I don't get - it's either people that love cliches or only know history books from what they make you read in school, and this is certainly a step up from those.

Also the reader here is very very slow. If you speed it up to 1.25x it sounds normal - but this is one of the rare books where you can go to 1.5x speed and have it sound almost normal - that's how slowly the reader speaks. Not a huge issue since you can speed it up, and don't even bother listening at 1x speed - try it at 1.25x speed and give it at least 5 mins, if you do so you'll know exactly what I mean.

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Dry

Writer takes a great story and makes it tedious. Waste of time and money. You have been warned.

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Unsung heroes

The most heroic men you know nothing about.
The narrator is a bit boring but the story more than makes up for it. BUY THIS BOOK

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The best account of a bomber crew in battle ever written

This is the best account I've ever read of a WWII bomber crew in the midst of battle. Highly recommended

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The most costly bombing of ww2

Narration is crystal clear.

Content: I had not realized how costly was ths raid..I have now even more respect and appreciation of the 8th air force.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful