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Publisher's Summary

The astonishing, never-before-told story of the greatest rescue mission of World War II: when the OSS set out to recover more than 500 airmen trapped behind enemy lines.

During a bombing campaign, hundreds of American airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Local Serbian villagers risked their own lives to give refuge to the soldiers, and for months the airmen lived in hiding, waiting for rescue.

In 1944, Operation Halyard was born. The risks were incredible. The starving Americans in Yugoslavia had to construct a landing strip: without tools, without alerting the Germans, and without endangering the villagers. And the rescue planes had to make it through enemy airspace and back: without getting shot down themselves.

Classified for over half a century for political reasons, the full account of this unforgettable story of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and bravery is now being told for the first time. The Forgotten 500 is the breathtaking, behind-the-scenes look at the greatest escape of World War II.

©2007 Gregory A. Freeman; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Ron
  • Lecanto, FL, USA
  • 10-28-07

an amazing tale

This is really two tales in one.. the amazing rescue of allied bombercrews who crashed in Yugoslavia during the second world way. There isalso a second story about communist plant5s in the OSS, MI5 and how they manipulated the British and American governments to hand Yugoslavia to Tito and his followers.

Both are worth listening too tolearn something asbout a little known portion of the war.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Must Read for WWII Fans

Wow --- what an exciting/excellent story about a little-know rescue of American airmen behind enemy lines during World War II --- was so informative to hear about the aircraft they flew, the training, the missions, the dangers, and some of their personal lives, especially the parts about Yugoslavian-Americans.
The book gets slightly bogged down in the middle with political history --- sounds like a text book but don’t let that deter you --- was a fascinating, extremely interesting story that I could not stop listening to --- I was sorry when it ended --- highly recommended.
I felt so lucky to have selected this one.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rich
  • MILLINGTON, MI, United States
  • 12-17-07

Pleasant Surprise

Well, after over a year of listening to audible, I finally decided to write a review... As another review mentioned, this is two stories in one. The secondary story, discussing the situation between Tito and Milosevic, and the American handling of Milosevic is truly a story in itself. I have always been an "American History" buff, but now I find myself looking for more on this episode in world history. This book is a great listen, the narration is above average, and the story(s) grab your attention right from the start.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Naperville, IL, United States
  • 11-26-07

The greatest generation, again!

Wow, this is another example of why this was the “greatest generation”. This book was non-stop action that script writers could only hope to come up with.

Kudos to Patrice Lawlor in his narration. I also enjoyed him in another worthy read/listen, The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai. He is quickly becoming another of my favorite readers.

This is the story of downed pilots in Yugoslavia and their life with the Yugoslav peasants as they helped to hide these airmen from the Germans. Simultaneously, the story of the internal struggle for power in Yugoslavia between Tito and Mihailovich was played out along with the Allies’ analysis of which of these two was their greatest ally. Even though Mihailovich was the one who was responsible for assisting in the rescue of these men, history shows that the Allies threw their support to the communist Tito—helping communism gain a foothold in Eastern Europe that would last more than 40 years.

I was surprised to learn of the way the British (intentionally or not) sabotaged the American efforts to rescue their men. This information was jaw-dropping. In the end, Mihailovich was abandoned and not acknowledged by America for nearly 60 years.

Ronald Reagan wrote of Mihailovich, “I wish that it could be said that the great hero was the last victim of confused and senseless policies of western governments in dealing with communism…Beyond doubt, both freedom and honor suffer when firm commitments become sacrificed to appeasing aggressors by abandoning friends." Words that still have meaning today.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't pass this up!

If you enjoy non-fiction but want it to be interesting this is a great choice. The format of the book and the author's style read more like a novel. The narration is top quality if not over-acted in some spots but overall a great listen end to end. Anyone with at least a passing interest in WWII history or untold stories should get a kick out of this.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Thomas
  • kensington, MD, USA
  • 01-27-08

GREAT!!!!!!!!!

You feel as if you are on the ground with him behind enemy lines!!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Amazing story with tremendous detail.

The author goes into great detail, sometime perhaps too much as it derails to story sometime, to give an incredible account of operation halyard. He gives great political and militaristic insight and back ground on all the individual players and organizations that surrounded this amazing rescue.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

If you like truth, planes, or the valor of WWII.

if you like Planes, the truth, or the valor of World War II this book is a must a really great read you will thoroughly enjoy it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ari
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 05-17-16

Uncovering a Unique Period of WWII History

This books gives a great account of what life was like for the select pilots and bombers who were shot down and supported by locals in Yugoslavia. It reveals a perspective on the politics between England, US, Germany and Russia and how it affected the power structure on the ground during precarious time. I was shocked by the divide and the treachery between England and US on the rescue. It really helped open my eyes to even more of the nuanced complexities during the war. It is also interesting to see how even our government was affected by those hastily cast alliances with Tito even to this day. I have read a number of different perspectives on the war and this truly was a refreshing one that is worth the read/listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • DB
  • 03-21-15

More politcal than I anticipated

Any additional comments?

Being a military history fan, I was looking forward to this book. I suppose I was anticipating more about the soldiers who were captured and their struggle to escape capture. A part of this book is about the downed airman who flew over Yugoslavia and the great people of that country who harbored them and assisted in their escape. The majority of the book is about clearing the name of Mihailovich who, even though assisted the US airman, was wrongfully sold down the creek. There's a lot of politics in this book. That's neither good or bad, it just something I wasn't expecting and so I felt my mind wander while listening to some of the book. The narrator is very good and kept my interest through the end. If espionage is something you enjoy, this is a good book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful