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Publisher's Summary

Best selling historian Stephen Ambrose describes how the Army Air Forces recruited, trained, and chose those few who would undertake the most demanding and dangerous jobs in the war. These are the boys - turned pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and gunners of the B-24s - who suffered over 50 percent casualties.

Ambrose carries us along in the crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous B-24s as their crews fought to the death - through thick, black, deadly flak - to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine. Twenty-two-year-old George McGovern, later a United States senator and a presidential candidate, flew 35 combat missions (all the Army would allow) and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. We meet him and his mates, his co-pilot killed in action, and crews of other planes - many of whom did not come back.

As Band of Brothers and Citizen Soldiers portrayed the bravery and ultimate victory of the American soldier from Normandy on to Germany, The Wild Blue makes clear the contribution the young men of the Army Air Forces stationed in Italy made to the Allied victory.

©2001 Ambrose-Tubbs, Inc., All Rights Reserved; (P)2001 Simon & Schuster Inc.; AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

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  • Overall
  • Jesse
  • Seattle, CA, USA
  • 05-21-03

Just Fantastic

I loved this book. Stephen Ambrose was right. The B-24 was grossly underappreciated during and after the war. Not as handsome as the B-17, the Liberator was faster, carried a bigger payload and had fewer losses by percentage. I had no idea that George McGovern was such a great and inspiring war hero. The narration is excellent. It's a shame that it was Ambrose's last book (I think anyway). Think Band of Brothers but in the AAF. Great stuff.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Flying High after this one

I was really in love with the writing style of this book. And being a gen xer, I learned so much about the difference between today's war time and an older generation's war time. I pulled stories from the book and shared them with some of my relatives at get togethers and it opened a can of worms about experiences they had in the military. This is a good book to help older and younger people bridge the gap and talk about things that scared them, the people they missed, the good times had and the feeling of experiencing things like this.

Truly an amazing storyteller. And an amazing set of stories.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Blake
  • Annapolis, MD, United States
  • 06-28-10

Not up to Ambrose's Usual Standards

The late Stephen Ambrose is rightly considered among the great history writers of our time. I've read most of his works and have never finished one without being completely satisfied, until reading The Wild Blue. On the positive side, if you want a general overview of how it felt to train for and fly or crew a B-24 during the WWII, The Wild Blue does an adequate job of it. But the magic Ambrose used in finding a unique story to tell of a group of men brought together by a common thread, such as in Band of Brothers, or Undaunted Courage, is totally lacking in this work. The majority of this book is a collection of completely random vignettes of B-24 fliers and crew. Ambrose tries to weave a story thinly by using the crew of George McGovern, but the majority of this book is just one random person after another. By the second or third hour he's thrown out so many names and pained so many mini biographies that the result is the reader has no connection whatsoever to his narrative. When the Italian theater combat chapters begin, he throws out so many statistics for each action: planes lost and damaged, tonnage of bombs on target, crews lost, that it all becomes a jumble of facts and strangers. When the McGovern crew is finally firmly latched onto for the final couple hours of the book, it turns out their story is not particularly interesting. Not to belittle their contribution, but there's absolutely nothing interesting in that particular crew or their personal or combat experiences. To diffuse this fault, Ambrose routinely throws in stories about other fliers and crews that actually did have unique stories, but those characters have no connection to his narrative. The narration is neither bad nor good but suits this work that is equally unspectacular.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

another worthy book

Everything I have ever read by Mr. Ambrose has been well researched and detailed. This is another one from WWII that again proves they were the greatest generation. Let us hope that 60 years from now someone will be telling the stories of the heros of the war on terrorism. I highly reccommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Qbook
  • Betterton, MD, USA
  • 12-05-05

Better Than Fiction

Ambrose centers on the WWII piloting career of George McGovern as he weaves the story of the strategic bombing campaign from Italy. This is a part of the war I had not known much about, since the 8th Air Force got all the publicity. While telling one man's story, the book touches on many other people, including the 99th Fighter Group made up of all black fighter pilots in P-51s escorting the bombers over Germany.

Ambrose's telling of the story is not hyped or overly dramatic--in fact it seems at times that he purposely stays away from playing up the violence, but as the story goes on, this works to add to the book's drama. And to top it off, Ambrose adds into the fabric of the story a little tale that ends the book and could not have been written even in a work of fiction. This is real history that is better than fiction!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Joseph
  • Concrete, WA, United States
  • 12-06-13

the b24's

Would you try another book from Stephen E. Ambrose and/or Jeffrey DeMunn?

Yes, his other books are great

Would you recommend The Wild Blue to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes and no, this book is not what I expected. I thought that it would be more about the missions, the stories of the crews; not the George McGovern story.

What about Jeffrey DeMunn’s performance did you like?

His performance was good

Do you think The Wild Blue needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?


  • Overall

Try Fighter Pilot Instead

I listened to this after Robin Old's Fighter Pilot. The title is misleading. This is more of a puff piece for George McGovern. If you want a much better look at what was promised in this book's title, listen to Fighter Pilot.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 05-10-11

The most common but least famous plane

This book is ok for aviation historians but is a little dry for a casual read. It is full of interesting facts about the people and where they came from (including George McGovern), the flying of the plane, the training, the missons and the bases in north africa and Italy (none of which I knew about). Narration is a little lumbering but this a good account of a much forgotten section of the US Airforce.

  • Overall
  • cheryl marie evans
  • 04-21-11

The Wild Blue : The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24

Interesting although rather simplistic. Many various aspects of the war too partizan bearing in mind other nations contributions to the air war against Nazi Germany. A little or somewhat long winded on the personal backgrounds of the individual crew members.