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Publisher's Summary

The very young men who flew the B24s over Germany in World War II against terrible odds were an exemplary band of brothers. In The Wild Blue, Stephen Ambrose recounts their extraordinary brand of heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship.

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 B24s - who suffered over 50 percent casualties.

Ambrose carries us along in the crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous B24s as their crews fought to the death through thick, black, deadly flak to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine or else went down in flames. Twenty-two-year-old George McGovern, who was to become 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 these young men of the Army Air Forces stationed in Italy made to the Allied victory.

©2001 Stephen E. Ambrose (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Brilliant.... It is a terrific story." (Larry King, USA Today)
" The Wild Blue is right on target...[the book] finally gives those men of the 15th Air Force the tribute they so richly earned." ( The Dallas Morning News)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific book.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I am a retired Army Aviator...this book brought back many memories for me. Written with great insight. The reader is excellent

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Required Reading

As a political conservative I was somewhat concerned about the book's central figure, George McGovern and the direction the book might go. However, my brother-in-law was also a B24 pilot based in England during WW2 and since he, like most veterans, spoke little of their war experiences and I was curious to learn more about what they went through.
I now think this book should be required reading in all high school history. Today we have no idea of what the "Greatest Generation" went through and gave so that we can enjoy the freedoms and blessings we take for granted today.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Dad was a B-24 pilot

What did you love best about The Wild Blue?

This made me appreciate what my father accomplished by becoming a pilot. He had not finished high school when he signed up. He doesn't talk about his experiences and I am hoping I will get him to tell me more about his experiences by gaining background information from this book. He was shot down on his 23rd mission and was to go home after 25. He set his bomber down in a field that turned out to be in Switzerland. His entire crew returned to the US and had reunions until a few years ago when most were too elderly to travel. Dad is 88 and still going strong.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several moments in the book that moved me. Relating the stories of the many reasons why the men didn't get to return home. The extreme cold and discomfort the men had to live with while in the plane. The heart stopping stories of having to fly through flack. How young many of the pilots were. The empty bunks.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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OK book, not great

Interesting tidbits, but not a gripping story. Would've liked more page-turning adventures, anecdotes, events. Essentially a recap of George McGovern's stint as a USAF bomber pilot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Toatally fascinating

One of the best books about war and air combat. Puts you right there in the pilot's seat on many bomb runs.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Book

I have to admit to being a little skeptical since the author claimed to be close friends with McGovern, the protagonist of the story and so there has to have been some needed objectivity lost. But the overall story isn't controversial by nature so I guess that's okay. If McGovern had made any serious blunders as a pilot or an officer, it would have surely come out before this book was ever written considering his political career.

The story developed well and I liked the background on each character and getting a look at their training, etc.

The narrator has a fine voice, and good cadence but I didn't think it really fit this book very well, but I suppose that's going to be subjective to each listener. (Just click on the audio sample to judge for yourself.)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Neil
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 06-15-12

No Excitement Here

I have read several of Stephen Ambrose books and I would say this is the worst. There was no drama, I only listened on to hear some great tale. They flew they dropped their bombs and some returned, that sums it up. It was nice to hear about the Tuskeegee airman supplying bomber support, but all in all this was dry.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Dropped from cliche heaven, most bombs missed.

Just a snicker above boring. Passable as a testimonial to his old friend George but otherwise wouldn't inspire a B rated war movie.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Yet another good read from a great author

If you ever wondered what it was to fly combat in the skies of Europe during the second world war, this is a good one. Godspeed, Mr. Ambrose; wish you were still around to write more.

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The 15th Air Force: The Boys Who Got It Done

The 15th Air Force did some major heavy lifting during World War II. I always past by this book when it would come up on my “things I might like to listen to list” BUT for some reason this time I bought the book and listened to it. I am so happy I did. The 15th Air Force were the grunts that did a lot a smash mouth missions and never really got the glory like the other numbered Air Forces. The B-24 is a big lumbering slugger that takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Thank you to all the people who fought in World War II.