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10 thoughts on “The Wild Blue

  1. says:

    Slow down with that zipping and zooming about, whipper snapper This is a far tamer tale Like the planes Stephen E Ambrose is describing herein, his prose plods along at a steady, satisfying pace These are not jet fighters, these are workhorses carrying out a task The Wild Blue The Men and Boys Who Flew the B 24s Over Germany 1944 45 is just as much the story of George McGovern as it is of the pilots and crews of those famous World War II bombers McGovern is most famously known as the Demo Slow down with that zipping and zooming about, whipper snapper This is a far tamer tale Like the planes Stephen E Ambrose is describing herein, his prose plods along at a steady, satisfying pace These are not jet fighters, these are workhorses carrying out a task The Wild Blue The Men and Boys Who Flew the B 24s Over Germany 1944 45 is just as much the story of George McGovern as it is of the pilots and crews of those famous World War II bombers McGovern is most famously known as the Democratic candidate who lost to Nixon in the 1972 election, the year the Democratic National Headquarters was raided by Republican operatives in the dead of night during a little incident you may have heard of called Watergate Prior to that, he piloted one of these finicky, taxing aerial beasts.Ambrose wisely uses McGovern s wartime experience as a template and as the narrative thread for his treatise on the B 24, infusing a dull, non fiction text with a human element, a technique in vogue with popular, modern day historians The people like a good story McGovern s life is perfectly entertaining in this context, but Ambrose heightens his book s readability by adding in the stories of other pilots and those of McGovern s flight crew All of which turns a book about a plane into something muchhumanistic The reader can t help but develop an attachment to these courageous men The Wild Blue is a solid niche book for those familiar with WWII, but who want to have a deeper understanding of this specific facet of the war


  2. says:

    From the back cover I thought I would be getting the story of the 741 Squadron and, in particular, the crew of the Dakota Queen What you actually get is the story of George McGovern from early days through his training and onto the end of the Second World War Very little time is spent with any of the other crewmen or the wider 741 Squadron This is very much the war as experienced by McGovern and the reader joins the squadron when McGovern does in September 1944, at the tail end of the war If From the back cover I thought I would be getting the story of the 741 Squadron and, in particular, the crew of the Dakota Queen What you actually get is the story of George McGovern from early days through his training and onto the end of the Second World War Very little time is spent with any of the other crewmen or the wider 741 Squadron This is very much the war as experienced by McGovern and the reader joins the squadron when McGovern does in September 1944, at the tail end of the war If you skip the author s note, as I did, then it s a long way into the book before we discover why the focus is on McGovern It turns out that he ran for President in 1972 on the Democrat ticket losing in a landslide to Nixon I was two at the time and given I live in Ireland I m not up on my US political history What this meant was the book was very badly imbalanced and somewhat misleading I wanted to know the wider history of the 741 Squadron and the diverse lives and experiences of people who flew with it What I got was McGovern and some general context And it s hardly non biased stuff As Ambrose says in the author s note I have been a friend and supporter of George McGovern for nearly three decades If you want to know about McGovern s early life then this is your book if you want arounded biographical history of the air war over Europe then look elsewhere


  3. says:

    Note that I wrote this review before the plagarism controversy See my review of Wings Over MorningAmbrose became a widely popular popularizer of World War II history and he has managed to churn out several in the past few years that focus on the common soldier experience Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22 and himself a bombardier on B 24s, told Ambrose, never had a bad officer Ambrose was startled to hear this from the creator of Major Major Major, Colonel Cathcart, and General Dreedle, but Note that I wrote this review before the plagarism controversy See my review of Wings Over MorningAmbrose became a widely popular popularizer of World War II history and he has managed to churn out several in the past few years that focus on the common soldier experience Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22 and himself a bombardier on B 24s, told Ambrose, never had a bad officer Ambrose was startled to hear this from the creator of Major Major Major, Colonel Cathcart, and General Dreedle, but Heller, when queried by Ambrose, simply replied they were all invention How they became so good is part of Ambrose story The Army Air Corps grew from 26,000 men at the beginning of the war to 2, 400,000 by 1944 American airmen had 360 hours of flight training before entering combat compared with only 110 for the Germans It was a hazardous business four planes went down during a formation flying exercise killing everyone on board, McGovern reported as the B 24s were very difficult to fly, requiring considerable brute muscle power Most of the men were still in their teens with only a few officers over twenty two Ambrose focuses on the career of George McGovern, a pilot in the 741st Bomb Squadron, based in Cerignola, Italy, who survived flying 35 missions, won several DFCs and was considered a terrific pilot by his crew Coming from a South Dakota parsonage where airplanes were rarely seen let along flown in, McGovern had extraordinary depth perception that helped him to become such a competent pilot The plane itself was noisy, unheated, and thin skinned By the time he reached Italy, German fighters were not much of a problem as the Germans were running out of fuel and P 51s, flown by the famous African American Tuskegee squadrons, prevented German fighters from being much of a threat Flak was another problem Over the targets the sky would be virtually black except where the shells explosions caused red flashes The bombers had no choice but to fly right into it, unable to shoot back, make adjustments, or react independently On one mission, his plane returned with 160 holes, one destroyed engine, no hydraulics consequently no flaps or brakes and required every ounce of skill for McGovern to make a safe landing they tied parachutes to the struts, threw them out the open waist gunner windows, and pulled the ripcords on McGovern command to slow the plane down after touching the ground McGovern was 22 The B 24 was manufactured by a consortium of companies that included Ford Motor and Douglas Aircraft It was called the Liberator and was designed to drop high explosives on enemy positions well behind the front lines and especially on Berlin In fact, the B 24 carried a largely payload than thewell known B 17 The Liberator earned a reputation as an difficuolt beast quite fairly, as Amborses following description of conditions in the plane attests Steering the four engined airplane was difficult and exhausting, as there was no power except the pilot s muscles It had no windshield wipers, so the pilot had to stick his head out the side window to see during a rainthere was no heat, despite temperatures that at 20,000 feet and higher got as low as 40 or 50 degrees below zerothe seats were not padded, could not be reclined, and were cramped into so small a space that a man had almost no chance to stretch and none whatsoever to relax Absolutely nothing was done to make it comfortable for the pilot, co pilot, or the other eight men in the crew Taking off was always an adventure as even a slight drop in one of the four engine efficiency might cause a crash since the planes were always overloaded way beyond design capacity The planes were dangerous places to be only 50 percent of their crews survived to the war s end The B 24 Liberator performed better than the B 17 Flying Fortress, but it was less ergonomic andsusceptible to battle damage They operated out of improvised fields, usually without hangars and formal barracks, surrounded by a civilian population amid ruins and on the edge of starvation There wereB 24 s built than any other US airplane and Ambrose says it would be an exaggeration to say that the B 24 won the war for the Allies But don t ask how they could have won the war without it


  4. says:

    This is the second Ambrose s book I ve read since Band of Brothers It tells about the experiences of B 24 bomber crews in World War II 741st Squadron, 455th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, to be exact The stories are from the beginning, i.e the crews background, their vigorous training the high requirements resulted in many washouts , the first mission, until when the war s over.Thus, it s quite an extensive piece that offers lots of interesting details If you love aircrafts and aerial war This is the second Ambrose s book I ve read since Band of Brothers It tells about the experiences of B 24 bomber crews in World War II 741st Squadron, 455th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, to be exact The stories are from the beginning, i.e the crews background, their vigorous training the high requirements resulted in many washouts , the first mission, until when the war s over.Thus, it s quite an extensive piece that offers lots of interesting details If you love aircrafts and aerial warfare , you ll consider this book as a classic.Ambrose fulfilled my expectation as a war historian, the story just flows with such a flair that makes you feel like want to be in that plane B 24, or Liberator, is one of the five bombers utilized by the US Army during the war It requires nine crew members pilot, co pilot, navigator bombardier, flight engineer, radio operator, gunners nose, waist, tail and ball turret One can only imagine how heavy and cramped that bomber was Over 18,000 B 24s were built,than any other US planes But they destroyed German refineries, marshalling yards, factories, air fields, thus destroying German s ability to make war.The first impression I ve got after finishing this book is that the airmen in World War II suffered less than the infantry soldiers Yes, the plane is too cramped, they faced those devastating flaks, penetrating cold in 20,000 feet height, but still, they got to sleep in tents with real beds, not in foxholes, helplessly waiting for enemy s shells and mortars to blast them to oblivion The Army Air Force also applied a not so strict segregation between officers and enlisted men, as well as behaviors No chickenshits army term for jack ass officers in combats either a different case with the infantry Last but not least, as bomber crews they did not have to see the faces of enemy and civilians they killed.My favorite part of the book is the chapter telling about the P 51 Mustang black fighter pilots from the 99th Fighter Squadron, or known as the Tuskegee Airmen The US Army in World War II still practiced discrimination, but those pilots did not discriminate, as admitted by the bomber crews The P 51 pilots are honored for their bravery, discipline and dedication in their main role to protect the bombers.One must not forget that airplane is the most destructive tool in this war Not only hundreds of thousands people including civilians were killed, but hundreds of historical buildings, residences, infrastructures were destroyed However, one must not also forget that aerial warfare saved the Western civilization We can only hope that the currently used smart bombs can improve their accuracy


  5. says:

    This is an very well documented and well written book about being a bomber pilot during the Second World War The main character, George McGovern, is not painted well enough to overcome his embarrasing defeat running against Nixon, but Ambrose makes it clear that while McGovern may not have been the choice for president, he was a good pilot and soldier Also, the description of the B 24 s strengths and weaknesses I personally found interesting, as the plane is one of my favorites Overall, very This is an very well documented and well written book about being a bomber pilot during the Second World War The main character, George McGovern, is not painted well enough to overcome his embarrasing defeat running against Nixon, but Ambrose makes it clear that while McGovern may not have been the choice for president, he was a good pilot and soldier Also, the description of the B 24 s strengths and weaknesses I personally found interesting, as the plane is one of my favorites Overall, very well written and worth the time


  6. says:

    I read this book many years ago and enjoyed This time I listened to the audiobook version.Stephen Ambrose always told a good story and this one is just as good as any of his fine books.The main character in the story is George McGovern who most people recognize as the South Dakota senator who ran for president against Nixon.Whatever your politics you have to respect McGovern for the skill and dedication he brought to serving as a B 24 pilot.


  7. says:

    While the title and cover would lead one to believe The Wild Blue is about B 24s, it isa biography about George McGovern, U.S Senator and Presidential Candidate.It was incredibly interesting to learn details about the B 24s and the conditions that the men stationed in Italy lived in during World War II For those interested in learningabout George McGovern there was a good deal of detail about his training for and time spent as a B 24 pilot during WWII.


  8. says:

    This book is good enough to overcome Stephen Ambrose s usual faults There s a little of the the breathlessness that often overwhelms his works, but he manages to keep his style out of the way of the material Or maybe I was just fine with it, as I have met a few of the men who flew the B 24 Liberators over Europe, and found them to be the soft spoken heroes that Ambrose portrays My father was a PTO vet, and one of his business partners was a huge fellow who had flown with the 8th Air Force o This book is good enough to overcome Stephen Ambrose s usual faults There s a little of the the breathlessness that often overwhelms his works, but he manages to keep his style out of the way of the material Or maybe I was just fine with it, as I have met a few of the men who flew the B 24 Liberators over Europe, and found them to be the soft spoken heroes that Ambrose portrays My father was a PTO vet, and one of his business partners was a huge fellow who had flown with the 8th Air Force over Northern Europe, a brilliant gentle giant A treasured roommate from College had a dad who had flown over Southern Europe with the 15th So when Ambrose goes on his frothy rants about how great these guys were, in this case, I feel strong agreement And this time he s less frothy, andon point.The main protagonist we follow is George McGovern, of all people I had no idea the Peace Candidate of the 60s had been a B 24 Pilot But he was and clearly a good one He completed the 35 combat missions of a full tour, no mean feat We see all the training an entire crew had to complete, as we meet a myriad of characters and stories along the way in the typical Ambrose style Tons of anecdotes and a lot of tales of supremely costly mistakes One is really impressed with the idea of the depth of this training As personally a very informed reader of the WWII Air war, I did come to appreciate how muchcomplete and deep this scheme was compared to both enemies and allies.Then its on to Europe and a riveting account of Missions, Accidents and the various ways to land Crews mainly come home alive, but there are stories of parachutes, POW Camps, Partizans, and random deaths associated with jettisoning bombs Random death is everywhere, along with rational destruction War But there are also trips around Italy for culture The high sexual energy of a young person s war is glimpsed How the black market and popular culture bloomed How the war fit in to the American and European social history gets some play By comingling dozens of memories, Ambrose gives one a strong insight into the American Experience His style recedes a little and the story comes to the fore, right where it should be The fact that we know our hero will come home does help one amid the mayhem.For the Omnivore reader, the highlight of the whole thing might be Joseph Heller , the creator of Catch 22, saying I had no Bad Officers But there is plenty here to chew on A junior reader will be well rewarded for the effort to read this book although the themes are quite adult For the Military Enthusiast Gamer Modeller, this is great on both background and for Scenario Diorama development The stories of Cerrignola, the base in Italy that McGovern flew from will spawn a myriad of dioramas alone


  9. says:

    A few months ago I read The Rising Tide, an account on the North African campaign of WWII by Jeff Shaara That was really the first historical novel that I have read Obviously textbooks are informative, but I have learned so muchthrough these novels I have always loved learning about the World Wars, so I decided to continue with WWII novels I first discovered Steven Ambrose through his book D Day I was amazed with how much information he was able to pull together about just a single da A few months ago I read The Rising Tide, an account on the North African campaign of WWII by Jeff Shaara That was really the first historical novel that I have read Obviously textbooks are informative, but I have learned so muchthrough these novels I have always loved learning about the World Wars, so I decided to continue with WWII novels I first discovered Steven Ambrose through his book D Day I was amazed with how much information he was able to pull together about just a single day After finishing D Day, I decided to look for other books by Ambrose and I found The Wild Blue.The Wild Blue primarily follows the military career of George McGovern, starting with his enlistment in the Army Air Force to the end of WWII Ambrose goes in depth on what it takes to become a pilot, from intense training at home, to practice runs over enemy territory George McGovern was not just a pilot during World War II, he was the pilot of a B 24 Liberator, a four engine long distance bomber used by the AAF More B 24s were produced during the war than any other bomber in large part because of the heavy losses they suffered But McGovern was not the only one who made the B 24s so successful Their fame is credited to all crew members, including pilots, navigators, bombardiers, engineers, and gunners They flew almost suicidal missions over intense German anti air defenses and occasionally were confronted by German fighter jets But regardless of the danger, they still flew and McGovern was only one of tens of thousands of brave men who did the same.I am always impressed with how much detail goes into all of Ambrose s books He pulls together hundreds of eye witness accounts to give the reader the full story with many different perspectives I loved how he describes the training process for pilots, as well as other crew members That was an aspect of the war that I have never thought to read about, but it is really interesting to learn what is involved in preparing soldiers for combat.I have read other reviews on this book and I see that some people are commenting that there was almost false advertisement with the title because it is mostly a biography on George McGovern I have to agree with this, but I will also fight back Yes, the book is pretty much a biography, but how else can you get so many details on two years of war You have to start somewhere and I think that Ambrose did a great job getting the whole story from McGovern and then adding accounts from other pilots and crew members


  10. says:

    Ambrose had a wonderful ability to take what would seem like an almost unmanageably large chunk of history and distill it into a tiny sliver that clarified the history and made the eventspersonal and vivid That talent shines through in this book A lesser writer would have tried to write about the entire B 24 flying experience, and you might have gotten at least a taste of what it was like But by funneling the experience into a single crew, Ambrose is able to zoom in on the experience an Ambrose had a wonderful ability to take what would seem like an almost unmanageably large chunk of history and distill it into a tiny sliver that clarified the history and made the eventspersonal and vivid That talent shines through in this book A lesser writer would have tried to write about the entire B 24 flying experience, and you might have gotten at least a taste of what it was like But by funneling the experience into a single crew, Ambrose is able to zoom in on the experience and make it less daunting and impersonal than it might have been had someone else attempted the history.Ambrose chose to focus on George McGovern, a 1972 presidential candidate, and his flight crew You learn how McGovern became the pilot of the Dakota Queen, and you learn of the respect he garnered from his crew In a highly readable way, you ll learn about each function of the members of the crew and the training each one experienced to do that job This book also explores the horrors of things like bombing accidents McGovern recalled to the author decades later a situation in which he inadvertently bombed a farmhouse at noon Having grown up on a farm, McGovern could only imagine that the noon meal was one in which the family would participate in full if possible They would have thought themselves to be relatively safe in a quiet rural place The accident and the knowledge that the bomb likely killed the entire family horrified him.While the book is sympathetic to McGovern, it is not a biography It is, as it claims to be, an account of the B 24 flight crews and how they qualified for their jobs


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The Wild Blue download The Wild Blue , read online The Wild Blue , kindle ebook The Wild Blue , The Wild Blue aecd6cf5f524 This Title Describes How The United States Air Force Recruited, Trained And Then Chose The Few Who Would Undertake The Most Demanding And Dangerous Jobs In WWII These Were The Boys Turned Pilots, Bombardiers, Navigators And Gunners Of The Bs, Who Suffered Per Cent Casualties