The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany 1944-1945

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany 1944-1945

Audio Other(Other - Unabridged, 6 cassettes, 540 minutes)

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Overview

Stephen Ambrose is the acknowledged dean of the historians of World War II in Europe. In three highly acclaimed, bestselling volumes, he has told the story of the bravery, steadfastness, and ingenuity of the ordinary young men, the citizen soldiers, who fought the enemy to a standstill — the band of brothers who endured together.

The very young men who flew the B-24s over Germany in World War II against terrible odds were yet another exceptional band of brothers, and, in The Wild Blue, Ambrose recounts their extraordinary brand of heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship with the same vivid detail and affection. With his remarkable gift for bringing alive the action and tension of combat, Ambrose carries us along in the crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous B-24s as their crews fought to the death through thick black smoke and deadly flak to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780788790096
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 11/06/2001
Edition description: Unabridged, 6 cassettes, 540 minutes
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 2.75(h) x 6.30(d)

About the Author

Stephen E. Ambrose is the author of numerous books of history, including the New York Times number one bestseller Nothing Like It in the World, and Undaunted Courage, D-Day, and Citizen Soldiers. He lives in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and Helena, Montana. Visit his Web site at www.stephenambrose.com.

Date of Birth:

January 10, 1936

Date of Death:

October 13, 2002

Place of Birth:

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Place of Death:

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Education:

B.A., University of Wisconsin; M.A., Louisiana State University, 1958; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1963

Read an Excerpt

The pilots and crews of the B-24s came from every state and territory in America. They were young, fit, eager. They were sons of workers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, businessmen, educators. A few were married, most were not. Some had an excellent education, including college, where they majored in history, literature, physics, engineering, chemistry, and more. Others were barely, if at all, out of high school.

They were all volunteers. The U.S. Army Air Corps -- after 1942 the Army Air Forces -- did not force anyone to fly. They made the choice. Most of them were between the ages of two and ten in 1927, when Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis from Long Island to Paris. For many boys, this was the first outside-the-family event to influence them. It fired their imagination. Like Lindbergh, they too wanted to fly.

In their teenage years, they drove Model T Fords, or perhaps Model A's -- if they drove at all. Many of them were farm boys. They plowed behind mules or horses. They relieved themselves in outdoor privies. They walked to school, one, two, or sometimes more miles. Most of them, including the city kids, were poor. If they were lucky enough to have jobs they earned a dollar a day, sometimes less. If they were younger sons, they wore hand-me-down clothes. In the summertime, many of them went barefoot. They seldom traveled. Many had never been out of their home counties. Even most of the more fortunate had never been out of their home states or regions. Of those who were best off, only a handful had ever been out of the country. Almost none of them had ever been up in an airplane. A surprising number had never even seen a plane. But they all wanted to fly.

There were inducements beyond the adventure of the thing. Glamour. Extra pay. The right to wear wings. Quick promotions. You got to pick your service -- no sleeping in a Navy bunk in a heaving ship or in a foxhole with someone shooting at you. They knew they would have to serve, indeed most of them wanted to serve. Their patriotism was beyond question. They wanted to be a part of smashing Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini, and their thugs. But they wanted to choose how they did it. Overwhelmingly they wanted to fly.

They wanted to get off the ground, be like a bird, see the country from up high, travel faster than anyone could do while attached to the earth. More than electric lights, more than steam engines, more than telephones, more than automobiles, more even than the printing press, the airplane separated past from future. It had freed mankind from the earth and opened the skies.

They were astonishingly young. Many joined the Army Air Forces as teens. Some never got to be twenty years old before the war ended. Anyone over twenty-five was considered to be, and was called, an "old man." In the twenty-first century, adults would hardly give such youngsters the key to the family car, but in the first half of the 1940s the adults sent them out to play a critical role in saving the world.

Most wanted to be fighter pilots, but only a relatively few attained that goal. Many became pilots or co-pilots on two- or four-engine bombers. The majority became crew members, serving as gunners or radiomen or bombardiers or flight engineers or navigators. Never mind. They wanted to fly and they did.

Copyright © 2001 by Ambrose-Tubbs, Inc.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments9
Author's Note17
Prologue21
Cast of Characters25
Chapter 1Where They Came From27
Chapter 2Training49
Chapter 3Learning to Fly the B-2477
Chapter 4The Fifteenth Air Force105
Chapter 5Cerignola, Italy127
Chapter 6Learning to Fly in Combat153
Chapter 7December 1944173
Chapter 8The Isle of Capri199
Chapter 9The Tuskegee Airmen Fly Cover: February 1945209
Chapter 10Missions over Austria: March 1945225
Chapter 11Linz: The Last Mission: April 1945237
Epilogue253
Notes265
Bibliography279
Index283

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